ArcelorMittal Sestao to become first zero-carbon steel plant
ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel and mining company, has announced that its Sestao plant in Spain will become the world’s first full-scale zero carbon emissions steel plant. The company says the development is the result of an understanding with the Government of Spain which will see a total investment of US$1.1bn in the construction of a green hydrogen direct reduced iron (DRI) plant at its plant in Gijón, as well as a new hybrid-electric arc furnace (EAF).
Support from the Spanish Government
Aditya Mittal, Chief Executive Officer of ArcelorMittal, said: “The ability of the Sestao plant to become the world’s first zero carbon-emissions steel plant would not be possible without the support and partnership of the Spanish government. This is a project that will require the support of many different partners to succeed; the plan hinges on the supply of affordable, mass-scale hydrogen, access to sustainable finance, and a supportive legal framework that allows us to be competitive globally.
“The Spanish government has embraced the opportunity and developed clearly defined plans to transition the country to having the energy infrastructure that the green economy will require. ArcelorMittal plans to switch Sestao to renewable electricity. This, together with the green DRI and hydrogen feeding the burners, will result in the Sestao plant achieving zero carbon emissions. We are also working to reduce Scope 3 emissions to zero”, added Mittal.
According to ArcelorMittal, around 1mn tonnes of DRI will be transported to Sestao to be used as a feedstock for its two EAFs. In addition to the investments in the DRI and EAF installations in Gijón, ArcelorMittal plans to invest US$59mn in Sestao. This aims to fund the introduction of key emerging technologies required to bring the plant to zero carbon emissions, the company said.
The Sestao steel plant
By 2025, the Sestao plant – which manufactures a range of flat steel products for the automotive and construction sectors, and general industry - will produce 1.6 mn tonnes of zero carbon-emissions steel. ArcelorMittal claims it can achieve this by:
- Changing the metallic input by increasing the proportion of circular, recycled scrap, and using green hydrogen-produced DRI from Gijón in its two existing EAFs.
- Powering all steelmaking assets (EAFs, rolling mill, finishing lines) with renewable electricity.
- Introducing several key emerging technologies that will replace the small, remaining use of fossil fuel in the steelmaking process with carbon-neutral energy inputs, such as sustainable biomass or green hydrogen.
Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
One of ArcelorMittal’s targets is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. With this in mind, the company has set a second goal. Aditya Mittal said: “Having announced a net-zero target for 2050, we, therefore, set ourselves the challenge to identify how we could take an existing steel plant to zero carbon emissions within the next five years. Our teams have been working incredibly hard to turn this ambition into the plan that we have announced.
“This is a hugely significant development and demonstrates the strength of innovation embedded in our people, our unparalleled technology leadership, and what can be achieved through investment in existing steelmaking infrastructure. It means ArcelorMittal will be the first company in the world to be in a position to offer its customers meaningful volumes of zero carbon-emissions steel”, he said.
He concluded: “As a large emitter, the steel industry can make a vital contribution to achieving net-zero by 2050. This project demonstrates what is achievable”.
University of Dresden constructs carbon concrete building
The Technical University of Dresden, in partnership with German architecture firm Henn, is constructing the first building to be made out of concrete and carbon fibre, rather than traditional steel.
The combination of materials, known as, “carbon concrete” has the same structural strength as its steel-reinforced alternative but less concrete is used, according to researchers at the university.
The building, called “The Cube” is currently under construction at the University of Dresden’s campus in Germany, and is believed to be the first carbon concrete building in the world. Strengthening the concrete, the carbon fibre yarns are used to create a mesh into which the concrete is then poured.
Unlike steel, the mesh is rust-proof meaning that the lifespan of carbon concrete is longer than that of the more typical steel-reinforced concrete. This also allows the layers to be much thinner than steel.
The design and shape of The Cube
According to the companies, the flexibility of carbon fibre allows the walls to fold up and become a roof. In a statement talking about the building’s design elements, Hen said: “The design of The Cube reinterprets the fluid, textile nature of carbon fibres by seamlessly merging the ceiling and walls in a single form, suggesting a future architecture in which environmentally conscious design is paired with formal freedom and a radical rethinking of essential architectural elements.
"The wall and ceiling are no longer separate components but functionally merge into one another as an organic continuum.” Displayed as a showpiece for TU Dresden’s major project, backed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, The Cube aims to explore the potential uses of carbon concrete in construction.
"Carbon concrete could contribute to more flexible and resource-saving construction processes, and switching to carbon concrete could reduce the CO2 emissions from construction by up to 50%," Henn said in a statement.
Bio-based carbon fibre under development to reduce carbon footprint
While carbon fibre may be lighter and stronger than steel, it has a much higher carbon footprint. Describing the material’s impact on the environment, Dr Erik Frank, Senior Carbon Scientist at the German Institute of Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF), said it is “usually very bad.” To reduce the carbon footprint, Frank is finding ways to make carbon fibre out of lignin, a common plant-based substance found in the paper manufacturing industry.