ArcelorMittal BioFlorestas grows a sustainable source of energy
Posted on 26.03.12 by
“We want to show people that it is possible to produce steel while helping the environment,” says Mauricio Bicalho de Melo, General Manager of ArcelorMittal BioFlorestas in Brazil.
Mauricio explains how by planting eucalyptus trees around the production site, ArcelorMittal BioFlorestas is helping make the steelmaking process more sustainable in Brazil.
ArcelorMittal BioFlorestas is special for many reasons, but what makes it truly unique are the thousands of eucalyptus trees growing around the site. Not only does this rich flora offer beautiful, green scenery, it also directly contributes to making our steelmaking process at Florestas more sustainable.
You might wonder how we do this: our eucalyptus trees are used to produce charcoal, which is then used in our two small blast furnaces in Juiz de Fora.
Using charcoal instead of coke – the traditional material used to feed blast furnaces – brings several advantages; not only is it more cost effective than buying coke, it also makes our steelmaking process greener and more sustainable.
Eucalyptus trees have good natural properties. They grow very fast thanks to the good weather and soil conditions we enjoy in Brazil. Our plantations are more efficient than in other regions: we need three times less land than the Iberian Peninsula to grow the same amount, and seven times less than in Scandinavia, to name just two examples. In addition to that, our research department has developed special ‘clones’ of those trees that are best suited to our soil here and that will allow us to produce the best quality charcoal for our industry.
But eucalyptus trees have another key characteristic. Did you know that each Eucalyptus tree can be cut and allowed to re-grow three times and still be of the right quality for producing charcoal? Every six or seven years, each tree is cut into pieces of three metres each and, after natural drying, it is transformed into charcoal. In order to ensure the operation is sustainable, there is a carefully calculated planting schedule to maintain the same number of trees in the forests at all times.
These are just some of the many reasons that make this project so fascinating to me. We have found a way to create a source of energy that is renewable and use it to heat our furnaces, reducing CO² emissions by around 1.8 tonnes per tonne of steel produced. And when you consider that Juiz de Fora has a total production capacity of 400,000 tonnes a year, the tangible benefits of this project become clear.
Today, at a time when the entire world is talking about sustainability, renewable energy and greenhouse gases. we at BioFlorestas are extremely proud of our contribution to making our steelmaking process more sustainable.