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greentec steel: landmark melting at voestalpine site Donawitz

voestalpine has produced the world’s first high-quality “green” wire rod from hydrogen-reduced pure iron and scrap at its site in Donawitz. The hydrogen-reduced pure iron was produced in the Hyfor pilot plant, while the landmark melting was carried out in the Group’s own Technikum Metallurgie research facility, a unique small but complete steel plant. The CO2-reduced steel was further processed in the wire rod mill to produce roller-bearing steel, which is characterized by its particular hardness and wear resistance. The production of high-quality, CO2-reduced steel grades is one of the biggest technological challenges in the transition to green steel production.

Read more in the official press release.

Press release

The next generation of steel production

A year ago, the supervisory board of voestalpine AG gave the green light for preliminary work on climate-friendly steel production in Austria and this is already well advanced. Now the next approval step has been taken. With an investment volume of around 1.5 billion euros, one electric arc furnace each is to be built in Linz and Donawitz. The plan developed under "greentec steel" provides for the plant and supplier decision to be made before the end of 2023, construction to start in 2024 and commissioning of the two units in 2027. Up to 30 per cent of CO2 emissions can thus be saved in the group from 2027. The exact start of implementation is still dependent on the clarification of open funding issues in Austria.

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The transformation route at the Donawitz site

How steel production in Donawitz is going green. Our journey from coke- and coal-fired blast furnaces to a new route powered by green electricity.

2022 - 2027: Production route

Continuation and optimisation of the classic blast furnace-LD steel route with two blast furnaces and LD converters each, and preparation for the green steel production stages.

2027 - 2028: First step of the transformation

By commissioning an electric arc furnace (EAF) and removing one blast furnace and one converter, CO2 emissions can be reduced by more than 30% group-wide. 

2035 - 2050: Final transformation

Our vision: With a clear and ambitious step-by-step plan to CO2-neutral steel production by 2050. In order to achieve the goal of CO2-neutrality by 2050, the voestalpine is already researching several, new processes and investing in pilot projects that show new ways in steel production. This includes the test plant at the Donawitz site for CO2-neutral steel production through direct reduction of ores using hydrogen.

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Preliminary work for climate-friendly steel production started

In order to meet the ambitious schedule for commissioning the new electric arc furnaces at the beginning of 2027, work has already begun on clearing the necessary construction sites and infrastructural conversion work at the two sites in Linz and Donawitz.

Green electricity as a precondition

CO2-neutral steel production by 2050 requires that electricity from renewable energy is available at an economic price. Wind power, hydropower and photovoltaic plants are to supply electricity from renewable energy for the energy-intensive processes in steel production in the future. At the Donawitz site, we are already working with various cooperation partners to tap into local renewable energy.

Increased use of scrap instead of ore

In addition to the connection to electricity generated from green energy sources, green steel production requires the increased use of scrap instead of ore. This sustainably conserves non-renewable resources and makes a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in steel production.

How does an electric arc furnace (EAF) work?

    In the electric arc furnace (EAF), steel scrap and other iron carriers are melted down with powerful electric arcs. In detail, this means: Steel scrap is fed into the electric arc furnace. Three graphite electrodes are moved from the top of the electric arc furnace to just above the steel scrap, and with the help of electric current the electrodes generate an electric arc that reaches a temperature of 10,000 to 15,000 °C. The electric arc is then heated with natural gas and oxygen burners. The scrap, preheated with natural gas-oxygen burners, is melted for about 30 to 40 minutes and HBI (Hot Briquetted Iron) is added as required. During the steel melting process, a tapping temperature of 1,600 to 1,700 °C is reached and at the end of the melting phase, the slag and then the liquid steel are tapped off.

    What are the advantages of an EAF?

    High capacity with maximum availability and flexible process control. Electric arc furnaces can produce the highest steel qualities by using correspondingly high-quality input materials such as HBI or high-quality scrap.

    • The EAF is very flexible regarding the input materials that need to be processed
    • Good controllability of the process temperatures
    • The EAF can be operated in a cost-efficient, CO2-reduced manner and optimized in terms of steel quality.

    Learn more about our plan for decabonisation

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