SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall will each own one third of the new company, Hybrit, which will seek to develop a steelmaking process that emits water instead of carbon dioxide.
By replacing coke and coal with hydrogen gas in steelmaking, the ambition is to achieve a process that discharges water, rather than carbon dioxide. Formation of the new company follows last year’s announcement by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall of an initiative to solve the carbon dioxide issue in the Swedish steel industry.
“A joint venture company will enable us to work together effectively to eliminate the root cause of carbon dioxide emissions in the steel industry," said Martin Lindqvist, president and CEO of SSAB.
“Our establishment of a joint venture to develop Hybrit indicates our conviction that it is possible to develop a fossil-free production chain all the way from the mine to the steelworks,” said Jan Moström, president and CEO of LKAB. “If we're successful, this will be a technology breakthrough that can make a global contribution to significantly limiting climate change.”
"By taking this step, we are making clear our activities and determination to find solutions to the climate issue. Vattenfall can see that electrification of the industry and climate-smart hydrogen gas have an important role to play," says Magnus Hall, president and CEO of Vattenfall.
Since its launch, the initiative has received various support from the Swedish Energy Agency, including funding towards a four-year research project.
This initiative is divided into three phases: a preliminary study up to the end of 2017, followed by research and pilot plant trials up to 2024. Finally, up to 2035 the plan is to perform trials in a full-scale demonstration facility.
The team believes that Sweden is uniquely qualified to undertake the initiative, saying that it has a specialised and innovative steel industry, access to climate-smart and renewable electrical power, and the best-quality iron ore in Europe.
To achieve the project, however, significant national contributions are still required from the state, research institutions and universities.