The Hydrogen Stream: Vale opens hydrogen metallurgy lab in China

Vale and Central South University have launched a joint laboratory for low-carbon and hydrogen metallurgy in Changsha, in China’s Hunan province, while Nippon Steel has secured approval to acquire U.S. Steel.

Vale and China’s Central South University have opened a joint laboratory for low-carbon and hydrogen metallurgy in Changsha, China’s Hunan province. “Established with a donation of $5.81 million from Vale, the joint laboratory will be open to all the researchers from the mining and steel industry from today,” said the Chinese company. The laboratory includes six functional units for iron ore concentration and pre-processing, low-carbon agglomerating, functional materials preparation, the comprehensive utilization of secondary resources, carbon emissions reduction, biomass, and hydrogen metallurgy. It also features three pilot bases for low-carbon sintering, low-carbon pelletizing, and hydrogen-based direct reduction.

Agora Industry said in its latest report that by 2030, more than 70% of existing blast furnaces (BF) will require reinvestment, creating an opportunity to transition to scrap- and hydrogen-based steelmaking. The German think tank noted the viability of direct reduced iron-based (DRI) steelmaking today, given its flexibility and compatibility with a growing hydrogen share, while cautioning against retrofitting BF-basic oxygen furnace (BOF) plants with CCS due to high residual emissions and infrastructure requirements. “It will become less and less commercially attractive as hydrogen costs decline and CO2 prices rise,” it concluded, adding that the higher cost of low-CO2 steelmaking requires targeted regulatory support and international cooperation.

Nippon Steel has secured approval from U.S. Steel’s stockholders to acquire the company. The Japanese steel giant said it “is developing three breakthrough technologies, which will be shared with U.S. Steel to progress towards its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, including hydrogen injecting technology for blast furnaces, high-grade steel production in large-size electric arc furnaces, and hydrogen use in the direct iron reduction process. It is reportedly investing JPY 38.4 billion ($248 million) in the development of hydrogen-based direct iron reduction and electric arc furnaces, with the support of the Japanese government.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) has awarded AUD 59.1 million ($36 million) in funding across 21 research projects to support commercialization, research, and development activities covering renewable hydrogen and low-emission iron and steel. The Australian agency said that it initially allocated AUD 25 million for each of the two funding rounds. Due to the quality of the applications received, it added that it has decided to increase the total funding to AUD 59.1 million, with grant funding for successful applicants ranging from AUD 1.3 million to AUD 5 million.

MOL Group has inaugurated a 10 MW green hydrogen plant in Szazhalombatta, Hungary. It claimed that it is the largest such facility in Central and Eastern Europe. It will invest €22 million ($23.4 million) to produce 1,600 metric tons of green hydrogen per year using electricity from renewable sources and Plug Power’s electrolysis equipment. The company said it will mainly use the green hydrogen for fuel production.

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