30 August 2022
Corporate

Tata Steel invests 65 million euro in next phase hydrogen route

Tata Steel Nederland has signed contracts with three companies – McDermott, Danieli and Hatch – for the further technical preparations of the hydrogen route.

Tata Steel wants to transfer to green steel manufacturing in a clean environment as fast as possible. All three companies have their own specific expertise that collectively is needed to help Tata Steel shape and deliver the hydrogen based steel manufacturing. The cost for this first development step are in excess of 65 million euros and will result in an engineering package that forms the basis for a final permitting and project planning.

The overall project is led by the Tata Steel internal project and sustainability team, in close support of the main delivery partners. McDermott is responsible for the construction input and support of the technical project management. Danieli is responsible for the engineering design for the  plant and technology that  delivers the Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), the 1st step in the iron making process. Hatch is the technology licensor  of the electric furnaces (REF) that melt the DRI and help to reduce the oxygen content further thereby improving the final steel quality. The REF and DRI plant are closely coupled to form an integrated production system.

Climate neutral before 2045

“We recently signed  agreements about our future with two ministries and the province of North Holland. In doing so, we have committed to being CO2 neutral before 2045 and emit between 35 to 40% less CO2 before 2030. This will primarily  be achieved via the hydrogen route where the blast furnaces are replaced with modern clean steel making technology that uses hydrogen or gas instead of coal”, explains Hans van den Berg, CEO of Tata Steel Nederland.

Unique operation on the Tata Steel site

“What we do is a complicated and unique operation,” explains Annemarie Manger, sustainability director of Tata Steel. “The new plants will be built on our site while all the current plants will remain in operation until the new installations are up and running. That requires intense integration between facilities and close collaboration between all parties and our people. The coalition that is now formed with McDermott, Danieli and Hatch marks the start of the basic engineering to define our plans more specifically.

A lot happened in one year

The switch to green steel is the biggest change in the company’s more than 100-year history. It is a technological tour de force with many deep consequences. In the past year, a lot of hard work has been done in various areas to prepare for this transition. For example, Tata Steel has signed an agreement with the national grid operator TenneT for a direct connection to the national electricity grid in order to be able to use green energy in her future operations. The layout of the new facilities and the physical integration inside existing plant as especially challenging, and has strong impact on the project execution, the overall operational logistics and the environmental impact.

Talks have started with the unions and potential impacted employees about the change to ensure all employees are fully included During the summer, we organised a first  information event that was  attended by over 80 companies and suppliers. These companies are typically part of the Tata Steel operations and take care of a large part of the operational maintenance on our site in IJmuiden. The early information and inclusiveness helps them to better assess the impact of our change. The Tata Steel Academy (the company’s own training institute) has set to work to determine which competencies and qualifications our employees need and is developing new teaching modules. The Academy is also preparing lessons for secondary school students in the region by offering a practical module on how to make hydrogen.

About the technology

DRI (direct reduced iron) technology is a relatively new production technology, in which iron ores are directly reduced using natural gas or hydrogen, rather than coal. The reduction of iron ores takes place in a DRI plant in a shaft reactor  at a relatively low temperature of up to about 1000°C. The reduced iron is then further processed into hot metal in an electric furnace (REF). During this step the right amount of carbon is being added to create a very precise and high quality feedstock for our steel plant.

The DRI-REF technology offers several advantages. By using green electricity and a predominant hydrogen stream, the CO2 emissions from the process are much lower than when using blast furnaces. The new process can also accommodate higher percentages of circular steel, where scrap can be added to the REFs or the induction fur