The three pillars of decarbonization 2 minutes spent reading

The three pillars of decarbonization

Michael Leithinger

voestalpine is gradually moving towards the decarbonization of its steel production. The first pillar in this transformation process has already taken shape with the HBI plant in Corpus Christi, Texas.

1. Direct reduction in Texas


In the HBI plant at voestalpine Texas LLC, iron oxide is reduced to iron, not with coal and coke but using natural gas. This allows voestalpine to reduce its CO2 emissions across the Group up to 5%.

The plant in Corpus Christi is designed so that in future the “fossil” hydrogen contained in natural gas can be gradually replaced with “green” hydrogen. That makes direct reduction an important bridging technology for the decarbonization of steel production.

2. Hydrogen electrolysis in Linz

The first PEM electrolysis plant for producing green hydrogen from electricity and water is being constructed not in Corpus Christi, but at the voestalpine site in Linz. As part of the H2FUTURE project, here voestalpine is researching, together with is project partners, into potential applications for hydrogen in the various process stages of steel production to create the basis for the long-term development of breakthrough technologies.


Several pathways lead to decarbonization. By using an electric arc furnace (EAF) voestalpine could reduce CO2 emissions by 80% compared to the blast furnace LD route, although the quantity and quality of scrap this would require is simply not available, neither in Europe nor elsewhere in the world. A potential option for the future would be direct reduction using hydrogen, followed by the electric arc furnace or hydrogen plasma smelting reduction. The blast furnace route would also be an option: the escaping CO2 could be captured and converted into natural gas using hydrogen (CCU, Carbon Capture and Usage).

3. Hydrogen plasma smelting reduction in Donawitz

In a testing plant at the site in Donawitz, voestalpine is researching into the actual breakthrough technology for CO2-free steel production: the direct and continuous production of crude steel using hydrogen plasma to reduce iron ore fines.

By using hydrogen plasma to reduce iron ore fines, steel is formed in a type of electric arc furnace without going through the crude steel stage. The project is titled Sustainable Steel (SuSteel). It is intended that the process should develop in several stages, from its current scale in grams, then kilos, to finally achieve industrial scale-production over the long term.

H2FUTURE project