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Major drive for green steel

Steel flowers
Image by DALL-E.
Published May 04, 2023

In a project designed to help the steel industry transition to a climate-neutral production, KTH and Luleå University of Technology will share over 41 million SEK from EU and Tillväxtverket. The focus is research on climate-neutral steel and steel produced from recycled materials.

The project ”Green steel for a fossil-free future” will strengthen research on the properties of steel produced through fossil-free processes, and from recycled materials. The goal is to support the iron and steel industry in the Norrbotten region and accelerate the industry’s transition to climate-neutral production with reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

”Recycling and renewable energy-based production are expected to be important competitive factors in the future, with hydrogen being a key opportunity to make the transition to climate-neutral steel production,” says Denise McCluskey, project leader and coordinator at KTH. ”However, the use of fossil-free hydrogen also changes the properties of steel and its by-products – and so, more research is needed.”

Denise McCluskey describes assessing the atomistic and structural properties of steel products, and the production processes that affect these properties, as the heart of the research.

”The project aims to optimise the properties of steel produced from recycled materials when combined with hydrogen produced steel, and lead to more control of the properties of wastes and by-products. The research results will also be used to provide researchers, decision-makers, and other stakeholders in the transitioning steel industry with new research-based knowledge,” she says.

The research in the Green steel project is divided into three areas of focus: system design, process metallurgy for fossil-free steel and circularity, and processing and heat treatment of fossil-free steel. The project involves both modeling and experimental work, and will be carried out in close collaboration between the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering Engineering Mechanics – both at KTH – and Luleå University of Technology, with support from the steel industry in the Norrbotten region and partners.

Project synergies with Hybrit

The Green steel project also has significance in relation to ”Hybrit”, the ongoing research and development project supported by KTH and Swerim, and conducted by the steel and mining conglomerates SSAB and LKAB together with Vattenfall.

”Hybrit is assessing how to process ore and steel using fossil free and hydrogen technology. It is a complement to the Green Steel project because our research focus is on what happens after the hydrogen reduction process – and what happens when you combine Hybrit-produced steels with recycled steels”, says Denise McCluskey.

What's next?
”We are preparing for the project launch and the enjoyable task of initiating the recruitment of nine doctoral students, six of whom will be based at KTH.”

Project facts

The ”Green steel for a fossil-free future” project is funded by the EU’s Just Transition Fund and Tillväxtverket. The project funding is over 41 million SEK.

The project also received letters of support from industry in the Norrbotten region as well as the Swedish iron and steel producers’ association.


Text: Alexandra von Kern

Belongs to: Materials Science and Engineering
Last changed: May 04, 2023