Central to the Smart Carbon route is partially replacing the use of coal in a blast furnace with alternate sources of circular carbon from waste streams, such as sustainable biomass from agricultural waste or waste plastic. By making this change, we would be reducing the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere as fossil coal would remain in the ground. Using sustainable biomass from agricultural waste as the energy input would continue to lead to CO2 emissions, but these waste products would already emit CO2 as part of the natural, circular carbon cycle, as they decompose at the end of their natural life, hence this energy source is classified as carbon-neutral.
The Smart Carbon route also allows us to integrate carbon capture and re-use (CCU) or storage (CCS) technologies, meaning we would capture carbon emitted during the steelmaking process, therefore potentially making the route carbon-negative (i.e. the process has a net effect of removing CO2 from the atmosphere).
Furthermore, the end-of-process carbon which is captured could then be recycled and utilised by the chemicals industry, helping to produce carbon-neutral biomaterials.