Linde AG, Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH and Avacon Natur GmbH last week signed a cooperation agreement on the joint ‘Salzgitter Clean Hydrogen’ innovation project, which signifies a big step toward a hydrogen (H2)-based industry.

The aim of the project is to generate H2 in Salzgitter through electrolysis and electricity from wind power. These activities are to lay the foundation for the future deployment of larger H2 volumes to reduce direct CO2 emissions in the production of steel.

Salzgitter Flachstahl is to plan the construction and operation of a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis plant 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.

Linde will ensure the steady supply of H2. The cost of the entire project - installation of the wind turbines and the H2 plant, including linking them up to the existing distribution networks - amounts to around €50m ($57m).

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Source: Salzgitter

Jens Waldeck, Linde’s Head of the Central Europe Region, said, “We are greatly looking forward to our groundbreaking cooperation based on our long-standing and successful partnership. For more than a century, we have pioneered the use of H2 as an industrial gas in a wide range of applications.

“We have already gained positive experience in the future-oriented technology from the Mainz Energy Park. We will now be contributing this experience to the project in Salzgitter, which, together with our customers, will enable us to take another important step in the direction of an environmentally sound supply.”

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 H2 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 H2, as well as gaining experience with the on-site production of H2 and its incorporation into an integrated steel mill with its complex production processes.

H2 delivered by Linde is already used today in the annealing processes that are part of producing steel. In addition, the use of H2 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, H2 generated from renewable energies is to replace the carbon so far required for the smelting of iron ore.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann, Chairman of the Executive Board of Salzgitter AG, commented, “In the future, H2 will play a key role in mobility, the production and storage of energy, as well as in many other industrial processes. As we have shown with our SALCOS project, we possess the technological abilities to achieve significant reductions in CO2 using H2. We view the “Salzgitter Clean Hydrogen” project as a significant building block that will promote more environmentally compatible steel production.”