A pre-feasibility study into carbon dioxide-free ironmaking will receive funding of SEK 6.7 million from the Swedish Energy Agency.

Swedish steelmaker SSAB, industrial minerals group LKAB and power generator Vattenfall have engaged in a three-phase initiative starting with a pre-feasibility study until end-2017, followed by a more concrete research and development in the form of a pilot study until 2024 and then demonstration plant trials continuing until 2035.

The joint initiative was announced in April with a view to solving the carbon dioxide problem in the Swedish steel industry. “By using hydrogen in the direct iron ore reduction process instead of blast furnaces using coal and coke as is the case today, the goal is to create a steel process that releases water instead of carbon dioxide,” claims a press release issued by SSAB.

Klara Helstad, head of the Swedish Energy Agency’s sustainability energy unit, said that the project could be the starting point of radical change in the Swedish steel industry. “In the long run, it can mean Sweden becoming the first country in the world to use hydrogen in ironmaking on an industrial scale,” Helstad said.

According to SSAB, its production system is already one of the world’s most efficient in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. That said, existing steelmaking technology means that SSAB is Sweden’s largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Swedish steelmaker believes that the success of the project will be a major contribution to a fossil-free Sweden. However, major funding is required to ensure the project’s completion.