LKAB selects ENERGIRON for plant in northern Sweden

Hydrogen-based steelmaking enables a fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel product. (Courtesy: Tenova)

The ENERGIRON® technology, jointly developed by Tenova and Danieli, has been chosen by LKAB, an international mining and minerals group that offers sustainable iron ore, minerals, and special products, for the basic engineering of its 100 percent hydrogen-based direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in Gällivare, Sweden. This represents a further step in the application of the technology by the group, as ENERGIRON has already been the key equipment to the full-hydrogen pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden, built by HYBRIT Development AB, a joint venture between LKAB, SSAB, and Vattenfall, and commissioned in 2020.

Results from the HYBRIT pilot plant revealed that the DRI obtained using pure hydrogen as a reducing agent instead of fossil-based reducing gas such as natural gas delivers superior properties and qualities. With a capacity of 1.35 Mtpy of fossil-free DRI, the Gällivare demonstration plant will combine the HYBRIT technology with ENERGIRON technology merging know-how and experience in DRI plants.

Among the characteristics of the new installation, it is notable that an electric process heater — a world first in an industrial DRI plant — will heat the process gas using green electric power. This will reduce carbon emissions down to zero, dramatically increasing the overall energy efficiency of the process. The new DRI plant will use fossil-free electric power from different sources to produce fossil- free sponge iron that will be used by SSAB to make fossil-free steel.

“We’re excited to continue our sustainability journey with LKAB in the making of the very first industrial DRI plant that, thanks to our innovative ENERGIRON technology, will produce fossil-free steel using an electric process gas heater,” said Stefano Maggiolino, Tenova HYL president & CEO. “With our tireless push for innovation, hydrogen-based iron ore reduction at zero emissions has already become an industrial reality.”

The current contract is related to basic engineering services, while future equipment supply and construction are pending waiting for prerequisites like environmental permits and Final Investment Decision (FID).

Tenova, a Techint Group company, is a worldwide partner for sustainable, innovative and reliable solutions in the metals and — also through the well-known TAKRAF and DELKOR brands — in the mining industries. Tenova leverages a workforce of more than 2,300 forward-thinking professionals located in 19 countries across five continents, who design technologies and develop services that help companies reduce costs, save energy, limit environmental impact, and improve working conditions.