Steelmaking could be about to undergo the biggest change since Bessemer 160 years ago. That revolution is green steel and the idea is that instead of using coke to process iron ore, you use hydrogen instead. The process has worked in laboratories but has yet to be done on an industrial scale. Hydrogen direct reduction, as it’s called, is not the only interesting thing happening in steelmaking. Electric arc furnaces, which melt down scrap steel so it can be reused, are not exactly a new technology but, provided they can be plugged into a renewable power source, they represent another way of making steel without puffing yet more carbon into the atmosphere. Indeed, Gupta has some of these furnaces, alongside more traditional plants. There are two paths to zero. One involves experimenting with things like green steel and trying to reform local industries. It is slower, harder, more fraught with risk but safeguards those high-skilled jobs and ensures you have an industry left by 2050. The second path involves allowing those industries to wither away and then buying steel, aluminium and everything else from overseas — however much carbon those countries are belching out. It is hard, when you consider the fate of the steel and heavy industry, not to escape the conclusion that we are bound down that second path.
Times 2nd April 2021 read more »