Helios, an Israeli company, claims it has hit upon a technology that will dramatically slash greenhouse gases produced during the steel-making process.
The technology could be a breakthrough, as around two tonnes of global warming CO2 is emitted for every tonne of steel produced, making the industry responsible for 8% of humanity’s carbon footprint.
The first step in steel production involves producing iron by placing iron oxides into high temperature blast furnaces with coal to cause the oxygen molecules in the oxides to bind with the carbon in the coal. CO2, a greenhouse gas, is generated as a by-product.
The new technique pioneered by Helios involves replacing the carbon-rich coal with sodium (of the same kind used in table salt). The sodium molecules connect with the oxygen molecules in the iron ore to form sodium oxide, which can then be separated back into sodium and oxygen, and the latter is released into the air. The sodium can then be reused.
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