Foto © voestalpine Donawitz
In the journey towards a climate-neutral industry, the steel processing industry plays a crucial role. Steel production relies on fossil fuels (coke, coal, natural gas), making it responsible for a significant portion of CO₂ emissions. The project, NEFI-Greensteel (Carbon neutral steel processing via alternatives to fossil natural gas), aims to develop innovative concepts and technical solutions for steel production and demonstrates them at selected production sites.
The steel industry is a significant sector in Austria, Europe, and globally. To fully decarbonise the steel sector, both raw steel production and steel processing need to become climate-neutral. Currently, many R&D efforts are focused on future carbon-neutral raw steel production, while the decarbonisation of steel processing has not been systematically addressed.
Steel processing is an energy-intensive process, with natural gas accounting for nearly 30% of the end energy consumption of the voestalpine Group. Most of the natural gas is used to heat raw materials, making them malleable and/or inducing microstructural changes. Currently, various types of gas-fired industrial furnaces are used in forging, hot rolling, or press hardening production lines. There are scarce solutions for low-carbon or CO₂-free steel heating.
In the NEFI project NEFI-Greensteel, a comprehensive concept for climate-neutral steel production is developed in six steps:
Selected innovative solutions will be tested and demonstrated at various voestalpine production sites. Decarbonising steel processing poses a significant challenge that affects numerous stakeholders. An intensive dialogue is planned with all relevant industrial, public, and political stakeholders.
„The decarbonisation of steel processing is one of the most crucial steps towards a climate-neutral industry. In the NEFI-Greensteel project, we are developing large-scale solutions for the provision of CO₂-neutral energy sources and their conversion into heat for various industrial furnaces, using 14 locations of voestalpine as examples.“