Steel production accounts for approximately 7 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. To meet the targets set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, the steel sector must go through a systemic change that involves the full value chain, from production to recycling.

In the spring of 2016, three Swedish companies – LKAB (iron ore mining), SSAB (steel manufacturer) and Vattenfall (power utility) – announced their ambition to develop and implement a novel process for fossil-free steel production in Sweden. This process would use hydrogen (instead of coal) for the direct reduction of iron oxide/ore (H-DR), combined with an electric arc furnace (EAF). It would be almost completely fossil-free when the hydrogen is produced from electrolysis of water by use of renewable electricity. The concept is called Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology, or HYBRIT for short.

This joint report from SEI and Lund University provides an overview and analysis of the H-DR concept and the key aspects that makes it a promising route for decarbonisation of the steel industry. The overall objective is to identify key factors – technical, economic and political – that need to be better understood in order to develop industrial strategies and public policies for decarbonising the steel industry.