In Luleå, Sweden, Air Liquide has realised a world first at the MEFOS site (Metallurgical Research Institute) as it has developed, built and tested a pilot plant enabling CO2 to be separated from blast furnace gases - while at the same time recovering residual gases.

The work is being carried out within the context of the European ULCOS project (Ultra Low CO2 Steelmaking), coordinated by ArcelorMittal and involving leading European steel producers, with Air Liquide actively involved in the project.

Growing steel production at present is usually based on carbon and generates significant quantities of CO2 worldwide, while leading steel producers around the world are participating in research programmes aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 50% by the year 2050, as concerns for the environment mount.

Air Liquide technology, combined with a recycling blast furnace, contributes to reduce carbon consumption and the resulting CO2 emissions, and also to obtaining the required pure CO2 to be stored underground. Tests have demonstrated the feasibility of the process and confirmed the improved energy efficiency of the blast furnace, with the second phase of ULCOS to include an industrial-scale demonstration from 2010.

François Darchis, member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee and Senior Vice President in charge of R&D, Advanced Technologies and Engineering, commented, “Air Liquide is constantly innovating to enable its customers to improve the efficiency of their processes and reduce their polluting emissions.”

“Today, the group spends 60% of its Research and Development budget on projects contributing to preserving life and the environment. Tomorrow, half of the group’s growth will come from applications linked to the environment.”