Reduce CO2 Emissions From Steel Production

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently published a comprehensive report titled “Iron and Steel,” highlighting the need for efficiency improvements and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions. At ProcessBarron, we partner with iron and steel manufacturers to develop solutions that help you meet government regulations and support corporate GHG goals. This blog post will explore the report and ways ProcessBarron serves the industry in achieving these objectives. You will discover:

  • What to expect from policies and regulations in the coming years
  • Why some producers aren’t waiting on regulations
  • How you can reduce CO2 with current technologies

Expect More C02 Regulations

The IEA says CO2 emissions have dropped in recent years, but more significant reductions are required to align with the Net Zero Scenario. Most gains have come from energy efficiency improvements and increased scrap collection to enable scrap-based production. 

Energy efficiency and scrap-based raw materials offer opportunities to comply with regulations while reducing production costs. They provide real opportunities for today’s steel sector, but long-term goals and future regulations will require new technologies like electricity-based production, hydrogen usage, and carbon capture. 

Policies in recent years have focused on scrap use. More policies on low-carbon production are being implemented, and we can expect more in the future. The US has announced 3 separate agreements with the EU, the UK, and Japan. Canada, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), along with India and the UK, announced they would take part in the Clean Energy Ministerial “Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative.” These agreements will lead to significant regulatory changes for US and Canadian steel producers in the coming years. 

Why Many Steel Producers Are Getting Out In Front Of Government Mandates

Companies that take action now will have an advantage over companies that wait on regulations to force changes. There are several reasons for this. 

First, with energy consumption representing one of the most significant expenses in the steel production process steel producers are engaging in new processes and technology that improve the operational efficiency of existing systems. Equipment upgrades provide solutions that save money, with efficiency projects often delivering a net ROI in less than 2 years. 

Second, we don’t know what future emission regulations will be, but we can be sure regulators will continue this focus. Companies that take action independently will have a significant advantage over companies scrambling to comply in the coming years One project we did for a BOF plant involved the modification of inlet ductwork and an upgraded rotor design of their induced draft fan. These modifications increased the static pressure while keeping the same volumetric flow rate and horsepower requirements below the existing capability. The increased pressure allowed for more cleaning in the scrubber and a reduction in emissions. Extensive projects that require capital investment require time and can be very expensive to implement.

Finally, demand is also fueling the “green” movement in steel. During the Town Hall meeting at AIST 2023, leaders from top steel companies provided important insights into the future of steel production. The consensus was that not only was government regulation pushing for new green standards in steel production, but that consumers, investors, suppliers, and employees also want increased decarbonization. And, the industry experts are seeing this demand grow higher and higher. Check out this June 2023 article “Green Steel Demand is Rising Faster Than Production can Keep Up”. New organizations, such as ResponsibleSteel are taking the lead in coordinating interests of various stakeholders to develop standards and certifications for greener steel production.

The prominent players in the steel industry aren’t waiting on government regulations or sustainability groups to take action. More than half of the top ten producers have a defined net-zero target and published sustainability commitments.

What Steel Producers Can Do Today

In 2019, The World Steel Association (worldsteel), developed an industry-wide Step-Up program that provided a four-stage efficiency review process that covers raw materials, energy efficiency, yield, and maintenance. The results from initial testing at nine mills showed that these efforts resulted in CO2 reductions of 0.2 – 0.5 t/t CS across the sites. A summary of the initial testing report can be found here. This program has continued to be rolled out to more production facilities each year

 Many of the top steel producers have signed the 2023 worldsteel Sustainability Charter, demonstrating their commitment to the Step-Up program and various other sustainability initiatives. Each facility has its own needs and priorities to follow during the transition to greener steel. However, every plant can some initial steps today that will help you move towards your company’s net-zero goals: 

Increase Energy Efficiency and Minimizing Waste

In the section above, we discussed the importance of reducing energy consumption. Energy efficiency is one of the greatest opportunities available to the steel industry today. Improving air and gas handling efficiency, heat and energy recovery, and electricity savings pays for itself over time. ProcessBarron’s Industrial Efficiency Program (IEP) was designed to help companies make the most of these opportunities. We used advanced fan performance testing, airflow analysis, materials handling inspections, and thermal drone technology to gain a total-system view and insights into opportunities for maximizing gains while minimizing expenses.

Improving Yield

Process optimization provides for improved equipment performance, increased throughput, and reduced waste. Efforts taken include system upgrades, equipment monitoring, process control sensors and AI, and implementing efficiency solutions. We have seen an increase in the needs analysis of bulk materials handling systems and are currently exploring various monitoring and upgrade technologies that can help our clients meet their optimization goals. 

Ensure Process Reliability

Process reliability depends on maintenance strategy. Outage planning and day-to-day maintenance work hand-in-hand to decrease unplanned downtime, improve reliability, and reduce energy use per ton of steel. 

Maintenance has always been necessary for steel production. But it has become a competitive advantage. Companies that invest in a robust maintenance program produce steel at a lower cost and decrease the likelihood of catastrophic outages. 

Enable Smart, Clean, and Efficient Production. Today.

Do you need help improving efficiency and process reliability? ProcessBarron takes a total-systems approach to achieve these goals by identifying the root cause of problems and systemic opportunities. Contact one of our sales engineers today to see how you can enable smart, clean, and efficient production for your steel plant today.