Air Liquide completes hydrogen pipeline to thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg

The industrial gases business Air Liquide has now finished a pipeline to thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg as part of the H2Stahl real laboratory supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK).

The four-kilometer-long pipeline links the Duisburg steel plant site to the Ruhr district’s hydrogen network operated by Air Liquide. The North Rhine-Westphalia State Minister for Economics, Industry, Climate Protection, and Energy, Mona Neubaur, traveled to Duisburg today for the pipeline’s inauguration.

Taking the transformation step-by-step

The decarbonization of steel manufacturing is being led by Duisburg, the largest steel plant in Europe. To lower CO2 emissions from traditional steel production, the two partners injected hydrogen into a blast furnace for the first time as early as 2019. At the time, the project received backing from the North Rhine-Westphalia state government as an innovative pilot project. In the future, hydrogen will be a crucial component in the creation of steel that is carbon-neutral.

The CEO of thyssenkrupp Steel, Bernhard Osburg, said: “I’m glad we’re making progress toward decarbonization by moving forward. We at thyssenkrupp Steel are setting the stage for steel manufacturing that is environmentally sustainable by connecting our website to the Air Liquide hydrogen pipeline. On our journey toward transformation, we are making progress little by little. We are accumulating more information now that our partner Air Liquide has finished the pipeline. It will make it possible for us to start receiving environmentally friendly hydrogen in 2024. It will be necessary for our first direct reduction plant as well as for research and simulation reasons.”

Network for producing hydrogen for commercial customers

The biggest chances for entering the hydrogen future are provided by the 200 km long hydrogen pipeline network in the Rhine and Ruhr region, which is operated by Air Liquide. The pipes link key clients and hydrogen-producing facilities at Marl, Oberhausen, Duisburg, Krefeld, Leverkusen, Dormagen, Düsseldorf, and other localities.

Vice President of Large Industries and Energy Transition at Air Liquide Central Europe, Gilles Le Van: “We require steadfast collaboration between government and industry for the industrial transition to succeed. One excellent illustration of this is the brand-new hydrogen pipeline to thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg. The North Rhine-Westphalia state government and the Federal Ministry for Economics deserve a hearty thank you. We must constantly consider effective climate change mitigation and global competitiveness in tandem if German industry is to survive.”

The first 20 MW industrial-scale water electrolysis plant to be connected to Air Liquide’s H2 network will be the pathfinder in Oberhausen, Germany, in the fall of 2023. This will enable clients to receive up to 2,900 metric tons of renewable hydrogen annually through the pipeline in the first stage. Additional projects to offer renewable hydrogen for industry and mobility in the region are being developed, and plans are being made to increase capacity by +10 MW.

Hydrogen economy united

The crews from Air Liquide and thyssenkrupp Steel were in Duisburg today for the official opening of the pipeline, and Mona Neubaur, the state minister for economics, industry, climate protection, and energy in North Rhine-Westphalia, paid them a visit. Hydrogen lighthouse initiatives are being developed around the North Rhine-Westphalian industrial region to advance the change.

Mona Neubaur, state minister for economics “We are all aware that a significant amount of hydrogen is required for the industrial transformation and climate-friendly transition in the Rhine and Ruhr region. A strong transportation infrastructure is necessary for addition to production capability. Duisburg is demonstrating right now how a hydrogen economy can be successfully created in partnership between various parties and how various projects can flourish together in a meaningful way. This is a powerful indicator of how innovative and competitive our nation’s industries are.”

2019 saw the successful completion of a series of preliminary tests for the injection of hydrogen into an existing blast furnace by thyssenkrupp Steel. A direct reduction test facility is still being planned, where the technological jump to hydrogen-based, carbon-neutral hot iron production will be tested, despite the fact that an expansion of these experiments is now halted due to high natural gas and energy prices. When the first massive industrial direct reduction facility with melting units is built, that will be the technological turning point. The contracts for this will be given out soon. The project should be finished in 2026.