SSAB and its partners LKAB and Vattenfall are seeking to patent the HYBRIT technology.
SSAB and its partners LKAB and Vattenfall are seeking to patent the HYBRIT technology.

Sharing fossil-free steel with the world

The HYBRIT program for the development of the world’s first-ever fossil-free steel is making good progress. Next up, SSAB and its partners LKAB and Vattenfall are seeking to patent the technology in order to protect it – and, at the same time, allow the rest of the world to benefit.

“Our plan is to make the formula for fossil-free steel available across the globe,” explains Martin Pei, SSAB’s CTO and initiator of the HYBRIT initiative. “But, in order to do so in the best way, we first need to patent it.”

Steel is everywhere. From construction, to transport, to medical equipment and household appliances, we are in constant contact with steel by simply going about our day-to-day lives. As the world sets its sights on a greener future, even more steel will be needed as we seek to build more wind and solar farms, battery-powered vehicles, and nuclear power plants. For this to happen in a sustainable manner, the climate impact of the steel itself also needs to be addressed.

 

HYBRIT Research & Development (R&D) program for fossil-free steel

Since 2016, SSAB has been working with its partners Swedish iron ore producer LKAB and energy company Vattenfall in a joint venture project known as HYBRIT. Together, they are creating a process based on fossil-free electricity and hydrogen that will result in the development of a world’s first: fossil-free steel that produces virtually no CO2 emissions.

As Martin Pei explains, the results so far have exceeded all his and his colleagues’ expectations.

“We’ve been working systematically through the initial research program carried out at universities and research institutes, the dedicated Hybrit R&D Laboratory, and, most recently, the extensive pilot research program, and we’re very satisfied with the results,”,” he says, adding that it has become increasingly clear that the HYBRIT technology pathway is a truly viable solution.

 

Better results than expected

“Not only does it work, but, better still, we’ve discovered that this production technology delivers benefits we hadn’t anticipated in terms of product quality and cost efficiency,” Pei continues. “In short, the results have been better than we dared to hope!”

So what’s next for the HYBRIT R&D program?
“We have applied for a series of patents,” Pei explains. “Why? Because it’s the ambition of the HYBRIT partners to develop a technology that can be used not only by us but also by others to contribute to mitigating climate change on a worldwide level.”

When developing a groundbreaking technology such as the formula for fossil-free steel, Martin Pei explains that companies tend to go down one of two routes.

We want to share this technology with the world

Patents are key to making fossil-free steel around the world

“We could choose to operate like companies such as Coca-Cola who keep their recipe under lock and key,” he says. “Or we can do the opposite. Filing a patent will allow us to protect our innovation while sharing it with the world.”

The value of a patent is twofold. Firstly, it gives the creators of an innovation the freedom to operate. This means allowing them the right to use the technology and continue to develop it without fear of it being blocked by others. Secondly, it enables them to make the technology known to others who may wish to invest in it. In this instance, companies from anywhere in the world will be able to apply for a commercial license to incorporate HYBRIT technology in their own proprietary products and services.

“We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Martin Pei concludes. “We believe this is one way to decarbonize the industry and allow the world to continue building the infrastructure it needs for a more sustainable future, using groundbreaking, fossil-free steel with virtually no carbon footprint.”

What is the new HYBRIT technology?

In short, fossil-free steelmaking is made possible by replacing the coke and coal that is traditionally needed for ore-based steelmaking with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. Steel made in this way has virtually no carbon footprint.

Did you know?

HYBRIT has the potential to reduce Sweden’s CO2 emissions by 10 percent and Finland’s by 7 percent.

Hybrit technology

HYBRIT. A new revolutionary steelmaking technology.

With HYBRIT technology, SSAB aims to be the first steel company in the world to bring fossil-free steel to the market already in 2026 and largely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from our own operations in around 2030. Together with our partners and customers, SSAB aims to create a fossil-free value chain, from the mine to the end-product.