Steel. Take a quick look at your surroundings and you’ll find that steel is everywhere; from your cutlery used during breakfast to your car that took you to work and even the metal roofing of your building. It’s not difficult to see why we use steel in our day-to-day; it’s sturdy, safe and even recyclable. So why are companies and non-profits looking towards green steel?
The most common way to make steel is by reducing iron ore to create a pure iron metal or direct reduced iron (DRI). This is done by removing the oxygen from the iron oxide minerals through a reduction process with carbon and coke which releases CO2. The rule of thumb is that for every tonne of steel produced, around two tonnes of CO2 are emitted. Having this in mind, it’s no wonder how steel-production accounts for 7-9% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
This is precisely why there has been a wave of investment in green steel production. Instead of using fossil fuels to create the DRI, carbon-neutral steel uses green hydrogen from renewable energy sources. This significantly reduces the amount of CO2 released per tonne.
Many companies in the vehicle industry have aimed towards electric cars as a way to adapt and mitigate the harsh effects that cars have on the environment. However, these vehicles are still mostly made from steel produced through traditional methods – a sedan is made from 50% steel, according to Mercedes-Benz. The industry is still far from perfect.
That’s why it’s great to see companies such as Mercedes-Benz making stronger commitments. It pledged to launch a green steel vehicle as soon as 2025. This announcement comes as part of the company’s plan to have a completely carbon neutral supply chain by 2039. With these kinds of commitments being known to the outside world, the demand for green steel most likely will increase significantly. Thankfully, there are others helping to feed this demand. The Swedish startup H2 Green Steel (H2GS) is currently in the making of the world’s first large-scale fossil-free steel plant and is aiming to produce 5 million tonnes of green steel by 2030.