An industrial gas supply agreement between Linde plc (Linde) and Austrian steel production company voestalpine AG (voestalpine) has been extended for another ten years.

Currently operating three air separation units (ASUs) and two hydrogen plants at the steel production facility, Linde has been supplying the site with gases since 1993. 

The main method of steel production - known as basic oxygen steelmaking or Linz-Donawitz steelmaking - uses oxygen that is blown through a lance over molten pig iron inside a converter. 

At the voestalpine site up to 75,000m3 of oxygen is delivered directly to the customer through a pipeline, in addition to supplying the local merchant market.

Commenting on the agreement, Hubert Zajlcek, Member of the Management Board, Head of Steel Division, voestalpine, said, “A safe, reliable, high-quality and cost-effective supply of technical gases is of great strategic and operation importance for the Linz location of the voestalpine Steel Division.” 

Andreas Müller, Pauline Seidermann, Helmut Gruber, Dr. Nils Hallermann

Andreas X. Müller, Pauline Seidermann, Helmut Gruber, Dr. Nils Hallermann

By using hydrogen as a combustion fuel instead of propane, Linde can reduce emissions generated from the steel production process. 

When the electrolysis process utilises renewably generated electricity, the resultant hydrogen is almost entirely free of CO2 emissions. 

Earlier this year voestalpine revealed that it had begun researching into hydrogen plasma for green steel production to produce carbon neutral steel by 2050, in accordance with the European climate goals. 

Its ‘sustainable steelmaking’ (SuSteel) research project investigates the use of hydrogen plasma to reduce iron ore and smelt it into crude steel in a special direct current electric arc furnace. 

With voestalpine regarded as one of Linde’s largest customers in Europe, the research could be set to help strengthen the existing partnership. 

“The contract extension also secures an importance source of industrial gases for the Central European market,” added Andreas X. Müller, Head of Cluster Austria and Hungary, Linde