Corus is to test a potentially ground-breaking new iron-making technology in a pilot plant project at its IJmuiden steelworks in the Netherlands.

Called ‘Hisarna’, the technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions in the blast furnace steelmaking route by more than 50%.

The €20M project is one part of ULCOS (Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking), a consortium of European steelmakers that has drawn up a programme to reduce the steel industry’s carbon footprint.

The Dutch government approved a €5M contribution to the project. The rest of the investment will come from European Commission research funds and from ULCOS.

The 60kt/y Hisarna pilot plant will harness a new process that makes possible the production of liquid iron from virgin raw materials in a single step, eliminating two of the three production steps required in blast furnace iron making.

Hisarna could lead to a 20% improvement in steel industry energy efficiency. Commissioning of the pilot plant is foreseen at the end of 2010, after which an intensive test programme will be carried out.

Two technologies have been combined to develop Hisarna. The smelting of fine ores in a cyclone was developed by Corus in IJmuiden. The cyclone will be linked to the final process step where the hot metal is formed, the second step is the HIsmelt process.