Japanese steelmaker Kobe Steel has announced that it has successfully demonstrated the technology that can reduce a significant amount of CO2 emissions from blast furnace operations, by combining the technologies of Midrex in the engineering business and the blast furnace operation technology in the iron and steel sector. This achievement is a result of the integrated efforts of the Kobe Steel Group (also known as the KOBELCO Group) leveraging its diverse businesses. The demonstration test was conducted for a month at a large blast furnace (4,844 m3) at the Kakogawa Works in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan in October 2020.

The quantity of CO2 emissions from the blast furnace is determined by the reducing agent rate (RAR) or the quantity of carbon fuel used in blast furnace ironmaking. In the demonstration test, it was verified that RAR could be stably reduced from 518 kg/tHM (ton hot metal) to 415 kg/tHM by charging a large amount of hot briquetted iron (HBI) produced by the MIDREX® Process. The results indicate that this technology can reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 20% compared to conventional methods.

In addition, the world's lowest level of coke rate (239 kg/tHM) has been achieved in the demonstration test of this technology. The company believes it is a promising solution that could become readily available in the near future at a lower additional cost compared to other CO2 reduction measures. The KOBELCO Group is considering licensing the technology worldwide.

CO2 reduction cost using this technology is calculated as follows:

(a) - (b) - (c)

--------------------------------------------- + equipment costs + other costs

The quantity of CO2 reduced (d)

where (a) is (the quantity of HBI charged × HBI unit price), (b) is (the quantity of iron ore reduced × iron ore unit price), and (c) is (the quantity of reductant reduced × reductant unit price).

Note: The value of (c) equals (the quantity of coke reduced × coke unit price) + (the quantity of pulverized coal reduced × pulverized coal unit price). The quantity of CO2 reduced (d) equals (the quantity of reductant reduced × CO2 emission factor).
Typical raw material unit prices are: HBI > coke > iron ore > pulverized coal.

The key technologies utilized for this achievement are:

• Technologies of Midrex for HBI manufacturing in the engineering business

• Blast furnace operation technology in the iron and steel business (e.g. advanced pellet production technology, HBI charging technology for blast furnaces, and blast furnace operation technology utilizing AI)

All of these technologies are developed by the KOBELCO Group as generic solution technologies applicable to various blast furnaces.

"We will keep improving this CO2 reduction solution technology while further reducing CO2 emissions and achieving lower costs for CO2 reduction. Beyond our own efforts to reduce emissions from our facilities, we will strive to contribute to the acceleration of CO2 reduction through introducing this solution to blast furnaces around the world," the company said, adding that. "In addition, we believe that the success of the demonstration test on an actual blast furnace has made a significant step forward in providing low CO2 steel products to customers.

As KOBELCO Group moves forward with its environmental efforts on the scale of the whole supply chain, it will establish production and sales systems and define the terms and conditions for sales so that it can provide customers with low CO2 steel products that offer new added value.

KOBELCO Group's mission is to develop and establish technologies that can reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost in order to proceed with initiatives to create a green society and achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, which is the declared objective of the Japanese government.

KOBELCO Group claims it has always strived to provide solutions to the needs of society by making the best use of the talents of its employees and its technologies with a view to realizing a world in which people – now and in the future – can fulfill their hopes and dreams while enjoying safe, secure, and prosperous lives.