Our role in helping create a lower-carbon future
Posted on 13.07.15 by
Steel is one of the most energy- and carbon-intensive industries in the world. That’s why we are committed to cutting our energy consumption and carbon emissions wherever we can – helping our customers to do the same.
For this reason, we are deeply invested in finding new, more efficient methods of producing steel – along with productive uses for our carbon emissions. That’s why our R&D teams are working alongside a range of partners to help effect change in the carbon footprint of steel production.
To give just three examples, we are:
Finding practical uses for CO2: It’s in everyone’s interest to use CO2 – a steelmaking by-product – rather than emit it into the atmosphere. That’s why we’re currently investigating seven solutions including the capture and use of CO2 to produce fuels and chemicals.
Exploring low-Impact Steelmaking (LIS): We’re investigating new approaches to the existing steelmaking process to find ways to reuse the gas produced during steel production. We’re doing this with aid from a state-of-the-art laboratory at our Dunkerque plant, where new techniques can be tested and assessed. We have committed $25 million out of the total $43 million budget for the project to date and expect it to be operational this year.
Finding alternative processes for reducing iron ore: As part of our LIS programme, we are working with others to develop alternative processes for reducing iron ore to avoid the sintering and coke-making stages of iron production – both of which are costly and carbon-intensive. A pilot in Maizières, France, is reducing iron using electrolysis, whilst another pilot in Ijmuiden, Holland, is using oxygen and coal fines to reduce iron directly – producing a waste gas suitable for the direct re-use of CO2.
Constructing a breakthrough biofuel production facility
Today’s announcement that we are partnering with carbon-recycling company LanzaTech to construct a breakthrough, €87m biofuel production facility, is a great example of how we are looking at all potential opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions and support the move towards a lower-carbon economy.
This will represent Europe’s first-ever commercial scale production facility to create bioethanol from waste gases produced during the steelmaking process. The resulting bioethanol can cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 80 per cent compared with conventional fossil fuels. We’re excited about how the project will demonstrate the added value of recycling waste streams – by reducing emissions at source, but also by keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Energy efficiency is also key to creating a lower-carbon future, and to helping uncover steel’s full potential as a sustainable material – something that’s at the heart of our sustainability mission. What’s more, it also makes business sense – after all, the rising cost of energy flows straight to our bottom line.
During 2014, we had nine R&D projects dedicated to improving energy efficiency in our production processes. One of these projects is developing a model to simulate energy use and CO2 emissions for an entire integrated steel plant with the aim of quantifying the effect of new improvements or changes to processes.
But, complementary to our R&D efforts in this area, there are many other ways to help us achieve our energy-efficiency targets. Thanks to good management, the commitment of our people, and innovation, we achieved almost $200m in energy gains by the end of last year – and our energy policy is implemented across the business through a framework of good practice.
In the US, our sites have committed to reducing the energy intensity of 17 plants by 10 per cent through an energy-efficiency training programme, in partnership with the US Department of Energy. We’re also driving efficiency in our US sites by enrolling energy champions. At Indiana Harbor, for example, the energy champions team has developed a plan to save $300,000 in the first year alone, focusing on optimising the operation of equipment. The site’s energy management efforts have already paid off in quick-wins worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In Europe meanwhile, we run an “Energise” initiative at sites producing flat steel products such as car doors. The programme aims to cut energy costs without major capital investment, by reducing energy losses, strengthening energy management, and better monitoring the energy we use. With a target of reducing the energy intensity of our steel business by nine per cent before 2016, we were halfway towards reaching our target at the end of last year – and our “Energise” initiative has been key to this progress.
So what’s next? At ArcelorMittal, we know we need to continue our research into new technology that can help make the steelmaking process less energy- and carbon-intensive, while doing everything we can to ensure our steel is fully recycled. But equally important will be our work on more sustainable product design and investing more effort into measuring the value of our steel over its entire lifecycle.
By Alan Knight, general manager, corporate responsibility, ArcelorMittal
Want to know more?
> Learn more about the road ahead by reading ArcelorMittal’s 2014 sustainability report
> Catch-up on other posts in this series:
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Products that create sustainable infrastructure
Pioneering products for sustainable lifestyles
Steel: the sustainability challenge
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