ArcelorMittal is planning to build a large-scale industrial plant for the direct reduction of iron ore (DRI) and electric arc furnace (EAF)-based steelmaking at its site in Bremen in Germany.

The world's biggest steelmaker is also planning a DRI pilot plant and an electric arc furnace (EAF) in Eisenhüttenstadt, following the announcement of planned expansion of Germany’s hydrogen infrastructure.

According to ArcelorMittal, by using green hydrogen, up to 3.5Mt of steel could be produced by the Bremen and Eisenhuttenstadt sites by 2030, with significantly lower CO2 emissions. Depending on the amount of hydrogen available, CO2 savings of more than 5Mt could be possible. The technology conversion requires investments in the region of €1-1.5 billion and would result in production costs that are around 60% per cent higher when compared with today.

"With our concept for the transformation of the plants in Bremen and Eisenhüttenstadt, we are accelerating the implementation of carbon-neutral steel production. These projects have the potential to have a significant impact in reducing CO2 emissions, in line with the European Union’s climate commitments. We are now asking for the necessary support and access to funding, to make the implementation of our plans happen " said Reiner Blaschek, CEO of ArcelorMittal Flachstahl Deutschland.

In Germany, the group already operates Europe’s only DRI-EAF plant in Hamburg, where the switch to using hydrogen instead of natural gas in the iron ore reduction process is being prepared. The objective is to reach industrial commercial maturity of the technology by 2025, initially producing 100,000 tonnes of sponge iron a year.

ArcelorMittal plans to gradually adapt production in Bremen and Eisenhüttenstadt in order to be able to competitively manufacture carbon-neutral, high-quality steel using hydrogen in the iron ore reduction process.

This year, two blast furnaces – one in Bremen, one in Eisenhuttenstadt – will be converted to inject natural gas, reducing the use of coal in the iron ore reduction process and further reducing CO2 emissions.

Then DRI-EAF plants will be set up at both locations. In Bremen, the plan is to use natural gas for the DRI, and later hydrogen from electrolysis; the hydrogen is to be made available as part of the regional North German Clean Hydrogen Coastline network. Sponge iron produced in the Bremen DRI unit will initially supply the steelworks in Bremen and Eisenhüttenstadt, until a regional hydrogen cluster in East Brandenburg can also supply the Eisenhüttenstadt site with sufficient hydrogen. In the transition phase, the additional hydrogen required in Eisenhüttenstadt will be generated from natural gas with the help of a pyrolysis plant built on the steel plant’s premises. To secure the future supply of hydrogen, both sites will be integrated into the European hydrogen network in the long term via regional hydrogen networks.

ArcelorMittal intends to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe by 30% by 2030 and produce carbon-neutral steel by 2050. The company is pioneering two breakthrough carbon-neutral technology routes, Smart Carbon and an innovative DRI-based route.