Cleveland-Cliffs Inc, the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, has announced that it has successfully completed a hydrogen (H2) injection trial at its Middletown Works blast furnace in Ohio.
The Cleveland, Ohio-based company has been engaged in what it calls 'a groundbreaking introduction of hydrogen gas as an iron reducing agent in the blast furnace'. It is claimed to be the first ever use of this carbon friendly technology in the Americas region.
The successful use of hydrogen gas represents a significant step toward the future decarbonization of blast furnaces, which are necessary for the continued service of the most quality-intensive steel applications, particularly for the automotive industry.
“We are proud to be the first Company in the Americas to inject hydrogen into a blast furnace – a demonstration of our commitment to develop and implement breakthrough technological advancements toward decarbonization."Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs’ Chairman, president and chief executive officer.
During the trial, which was completed on 8 May, 2023, hydrogen gas was injected into all 20 tuyeres at the Middletown #3 blast furnace, facilitating the production of clean pig iron – the foundation of high-end steelmaking. Hydrogen was used as a partial substitute for the coke necessary for iron reduction, ultimately replacing the release of CO2 with the release of H2O (water vapour) with no impact to product quality or operating efficiency. The hydrogen was delivered to the Middletown facility via an existing pipeline and transportation infrastructure in place for the facility’s other hydrogen uses, including for its annealing furnaces.
Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs’ chairman, president and chief executive officer, commented: “We are proud to be the first company in the Americas to inject hydrogen into a blast furnace – a demonstration of our commitment to develop and implement breakthrough technological advancements toward decarbonization. Cleveland-Cliffs thrives on innovation, so it was fitting that this major step was completed just a short distance from our Cliffs Research and Innovation Centre in Middletown, Ohio. This achievement proves our ability to use green hydrogen throughout our footprint when it becomes readily and economically available, including in our seven blast furnaces and our state-of-the-art direct reduction facility. We are already the world leaders in natural gas injection, and this success confirms there is a bright, sustainable and environmentally friendly future for the much needed BF-BOF steelmaking technology.”
In addition to being the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, Cliffs is also the largest manufacturer of iron ore pellets in the country. The company is vertically integrated from mined raw materials, direct reduced iron, and ferrous scrap to primary steelmaking and downstream finishing, stamping, tooling, and tubing.
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry in North America and serves a range of other markets due to its comprehensive offering of flat-rolled steel products.
Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 27,000 people across its operations in the United States and Canada.