R&D: Low-impact steelmaking
In 2013, we launched a new research programme called Low-Impact Steelmaking (LIS). This is focusing on some important new approaches to the existing steelmaking process that could benefit the steel industry as a whole, including ways to re-use the gas produced during steel production. It involves the construction of a state-of-the-art laboratory at our Dunkerque plant, where new techniques can be tested and assessed. The project, which will be operational in 2015, is run by a consortium of French universities and scientific laboratories, and our global R&D centre at Maizières-Les-Metz, and is supported by the French Energy and Environment Agency. We have committed $25 million out of the total $43 million budget for the project to date. Within the LIS programme, we are also continuing to work with others to develop alternative processes for reducing iron ore that will avoid the sintering and coke-making stages of iron production, both of which are costly and carbon-intensive. For example, the Ulcowin pilot in Maizières, France, is reducing iron using electrolysis, whilst the Hisarna pilot in Ijmuiden, Holland, is using oxygen and coal fines to reduce iron directly. The latter pilot is not so much aimed at reducing the CO2e emissions in the process itself, but at producing a highly concentrated CO2e waste gas, which is suitable for the direct re-use of CO2e – something we are exploring in our Valorco project.