Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, Linde AG and Avacon Natur GmbH signed a cooperation agreement on the joint “Salzgitter Clean Hydrogen” innovation project, which signifies a big step toward a hydrogen-based industry.
The aim of the project is to generate hydrogen in Salzgitter through electrolysis and electricity from wind power. These activities are to lay the foundation for the future deployment of larger hydrogen volumes to reduce direct CO2 emissions in the production of steel.
Salzgitter Flachstahl is to plan the construction and operation of PEM electrolysis plant (PEM = Proton-Exchange Membrane) with a capacity of around 400 N.m³/h. Avacon intends to build and operate seven wind turbines on the premises of the Salzgitter Group, three of which on the grounds of the steel mill. Industrial gas supplier Linde will ensure the steady supply of hydrogen.
The cost of the entire project (installation of the wind turbines and the hydrogen plant, including linking them up to the existing distribution networks) amount to around € 50 million. The financing of this forward-looking industrial climate protection project also necessitates the acquisition of governmental funding. Assuming the project runs smoothly, the production of hydrogen on the plant premises could commence in 2020.
In the context of this project, the partners are aiming to build up know-how for the environmentally compatible production of hydrogen, as well as gaining experience with the on-site production of hydrogen and its incorporation into an integrated steel mill with its complex production processes.
Hydrogen delivered by Linde is already used today in the annealing processes that are part of producing steel. In addition, the use of hydrogen in mills opens up the potential of significantly reducing CO2 emissions generated from steel production processes in the future. With a view to achieving this goal, Salzgitter AG conceived the SALCOS (Salzgitter Low CO2 Steelmaking) project that maps a realistic path toward the gradual reduction of CO2 and, in the long term, steel production that is virtually free of CO2. As part of this project, hydrogen generated from renewable energies is to replace the carbon so far required for the smelting of iron ore.
Salzgitter Flachstahl intends to gain operational experience through this project in the area so important for SALCOS of generating “hydrogen from renewable energies”. This experience could later be used for implementation on an industrial scale. Although the framework conditions prevailing today do not permit the commercial operation of a direct combination of wind energy generation and electrolysis operations without government funding, the three partners are determined to take this technology that is so significant for the future and for climate protection further.