Green steel demand seen across supply chain: Boston Metal

There’s demand for green steel across the supply chain, but Boston Metal aims to keep the need for a green premium to a minimum, a company executive told Fastmarkets earlier this year

“We’ve seen it across the supply chain, the automotive sector in the whole supply chain for automotive, the OEMs, and certainly the steel makers wanting to supply into that. You certainly see that with the early steel that SSAB is offering in Sweden, early customers like Volvo.” Adam Rauwerdink, Boston Metal’s senior vice president of business development, said.

In June SSAB teamed up with US-based automotive and industrial component supplier Shape Corp to deliver fossil-free steel crash management and body structure systems to market.

“We talk to a lot of different end-users that want to get green steel in their supply chains and they need to understand the other types of technologies and where that green steel could come from, how it would be produced,” Rauwerdink said.

Rauwerdink believes that market fundamentals “will drive a green premium”, adding that he has seen “willingness and desire” for the market to incorporate green steel into their products.

However, Rauwerdink adds that Boston Metal’s goal as a technology developer is to incorporate renewable energy to drive down production costs and maximize efficiencies, keeping the necessity of a green premium to a minimum.

Electrifying steel to decarbonize

Boston Metal’s molten oxide electrolysis (MOE) process uses renewable electricity to convert all iron ore grades into steel. The process breaks down iron ore in the MOE cell to release pure liquid iron, generating zero carbon dioxide or other harmful byproducts, according to the company.

In a bid to produce emissions-free steel, Boston Metal believes in skipping the green hydrogen step in the steelmaking process.

“Avoid carbon capture and carbon altogether,” Rauwerdink told Fastmarkets. “Our approach is that you can directly electrify steel, and that’s going to be at the billion-ton level. If you’re going to decarbonize [the steel industry] by the decade, you’re going to need a billion and a half tons of steel that comes from ore and do that without emissions.”

The MOE process also eliminates the need for coke production, iron ore sintering and pelletizing, blast furnace reduction, and basic oxygen furnace refinement, according to Boston Metal.

“The blast furnace is going to go away. One and a half billion tons of blast furnace capacity can be replaced with something that’s green. You need a technology that’s inherently very scalable if you’re going to do that,” Rauwerdink said.

“We’re still certainly in the technology development phase, everything we have commercially for steel is at our development facility. The largest system we have to date is coming online this summer; that will produce about half a ton of steel per day but prove out many of the core scalabilities of the system,” he said.

The firm expects its demonstration plant to go online in 2025, Rauwerdink told Fastmarkets. The facility will house five electrolysis cells operating in a series and produce about 6,000 tons of steel per year.

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