Fortescue partners with Voestalpine to manufacture hydrogen-fuelled green steel

The Fortescue company, led by Andrew Forrest, has unveiled fresh ambitions to manufacture green steel on a large scale while avoiding the use of fossil fuels.

In order to build and engineer an industrial-scale prototype plant with a revolutionary method for net-zero-emission ironmaking, Fortescue has struck an agreement with Austria’s crude steel manufacturer, Voestalpine, Mitsubishi Corp., and Primetals Technologies.

The partners also intend to look into the construction and management of the factory, which will be situated close to the business’s Austrian headquarters in Linz.

In an effort to clean up one of the worst industries in the world for greenhouse gas emissions, steelmakers are researching ways to create steel without releasing carbon dioxide by using electricity to separate iron from its ore.

Offshoot of Fortescue green technologies Together with Indonesia’s largest private steelmaker, GRP, FFI is already looking into ways to produce green steel in Asia.

The HYFOR (hydrogen fine ore reduction) and smelter solutions technology from Primetals Technologies will serve as the foundation for the new ironmaking process being tested in Austria. The partners assert that HYFOR, which is based on 1850s British engineer William Bessemer patents, is the first direct reduction method for iron ore fines in the world that won’t necessitate any agglomeration phases, such as sintering or pelletizing.

Since the end of 2021, a pilot plant has been in operation, and according to FFI, Primetals has conducted multiple fruitful test campaigns, including fruitful tests on Fortescue’s Pilbara-mined iron ore.

A prototype plant with an industrial-scale capacity of three to five tons of green hot metal per hour will be designed during the project planning phase. According to FFI, this is the first technologically feasible way to connect a smelter with a hydrogen-based direct reduction unit for iron ore fines.

The majority of the hydrogen utilized in the new plant will come from Verbund, an Austrian producer of renewable energy, which runs the H2Future proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer. According to Fortescue, the steelmaking factory is the largest of its kind in the world, with a capacity greater than 6MW.