In response to the funding request for the “Hydrogen Technology Offensive,” the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection is supporting two collaborative projects in which thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH is engaged. The research focuses on how using hydrogen as a fuel may cut CO2 emissions in the steel sector throughout the board, not only during the initial manufacture of the metal.
Both research initiatives are a component of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG’s complete, long-term decarbonization plan, which also covers all downstream production activities in addition to iron and steel production. They are founded on the pledge made by thyssenkrupp Steel Europe to become totally carbon neutral by 2045.
The research initiatives are a crucial component of the sustainability plan at the Andernach facility for Germany’s sole producer of tinplate; by 2045, the firm hopes to reduce annual CO2 emissions there by almost 400,000 tons. This basically reflects the emissions brought on by private natural gas use in the Mayen-Koblenz district’s 215,000 residents over the course of two years. Thus, the climate strategies of thyssenkrupp Rasselstein provide the area with a significant lever toward climate neutrality.
In order to produce tinplate, energy-intensive annealing techniques are used in both projects. These procedures are necessary to repair the material’s damaged crystalline structure, which was caused by cold rolling.
The “FlexHeat2Anneal” research project (funding code 03EN2078 AC) is primarily concerned with the use of hydrogen in continuous annealing, which involves unwinding an ultra-fine strip and recrystallizing it over rollers at a high temperature in a little amount of time.
Ultra-fine strip annealing has been the main usage of natural gas up to now. Future plans include adding renewable hydrogen to progressively replace the fossil fuel energy source. “Numerous concerns are raised by the annealer’s proposed adjustable utilization of hydrogen. Hydrogen, for instance, burns hotter than natural gas. Therefore, it is necessary to modify the burners and radiant heating pipes “thyssenkrupp Rasselstein’s Torsten Schmitt, an electrical specialist and responsible engineer for the maintenance of the conveyor systems. In addition, there is a lot of water vapor in the exhaust gas. Only until we have finished our laboratory testing and applied our results to the large-scale facility that is actually operating will we be able to evaluate what this means for the process.
For three years, the FlexHeat2Anneal research project will be active. The Institute for Industrial Furnace Construction and Heat Technology at RWTH Aachen University and WS Heat Process Technology GmbH are project partners in addition to thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH.
The “H2-DisTherPro” research project, with grant number 03EN2077 AD, aims to replace carbon-containing fuel gases in thermal processing systems with hydrogen. In order to achieve this, experiments are being conducted to employ thyssenkrupp Rasselstein’s hood annealers with up to 100% hydrogen. The extra-fine strip remains stacked as coils during this procedure for up to 48 hours when it also recrystallizes.
The project’s main goals include modifying the infrastructure for integrating hydrogen, simulating the discontinuous annealing process with hydrogen heating, and conducting long-term tests on certain annealing hoods.
Dr. Peter Kirchesch, project manager for research projects at thyssenkrupp Rasselstein, underlines that “safe operation must be guaranteed” and “consistently excellent product quality must be provided.” “A test facility for the creation of an appropriate burner technology is being set up as part of the research project in the Duisburg technical center of the VDEh Operations Research Institute. Additionally, Andernach’s internal energy systems are currently being modified to prepare for the eventual installation of a demonstration.
In the three-year project, thyssenkrupp Rasselstein GmbH, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG, VDEh Betriebsforschungsinstitut GmbH, and Küttner Automation GmbH are all engaged in doing research. Through the trials, the partners carry out useful basic research that has relevance well beyond their own projects. According to Dr. Daniel Schubert of the CO 2 research team at the thyssenkrupp Steel Competence Center Metallurgy in Duisburg, “burner technologies are utilized in numerous sectors regardless of whether it is for melting, casting, forming, drying, or heat treatment. “The more decarbonization there is, the more information we can put to use in other industrial processes.” Thus, one of the two research initiatives also involves thyssenkrupp Steel.
As part of its integrated transformation strategy, thyssenkrupp Steel intends to switch its steel production to direct reduction technology. By 2030, 30% of CO2 emissions should be saved in this way. By 2045 at the latest, steel manufacturing should be climate neutral. One of the company’s primary aims, in addition to lowering CO2 emissions, is to maintain its current range of steel grades and quality. High-quality steel is a catalyst for innovation and a fundamental component in many industries. This ought to continue in the future.