Germany’s first hydrogen-based steel production plant via the blast furnace route is beginning operation in Dillingen. With the €14 million investment, Dillinger and Saarstahl are further cutting their carbon emissions while also creating the conditions for practical use of green hydrogen.

Peter Altmaier, German Minister of Economics and Energy, visited the Dillingen site today together with Saarland’s Minister-President Tobias Hans and Saarland’s Minister of Economics and Energy Anke Rehlinger, to gather information about the plant and where the companies stand in the upcoming transformation process.

Ready for the transformation process

“We are ready for the transformation to green steel,” says Tim Hartmann, Chairman of the Board of Saarstahl and Dillinger. “This investment confirms: Saarstahl and Dillinger are ready to take the next big steps on the way to producing green steel.”
The new plant in Dillingen is the first in Germany that uses hydrogen as a reducing agent in the blast furnace in normal operation. This is accomplished by injecting hydrogen-rich coke gas. “We can further reduce our carbon emissions on the basis of this technology while gaining important experience in using hydrogen in steel production,” explained Martin Baues, Member of the Board of Directors for Technology. “The plant will enable us in the next step to use pure hydrogen in both blast furnaces.”

The use of hydrogen in steel production is a key factor in reducing carbon emissions. The coke gas injection system is an important step toward producing green steel and minimizing the use of resources. Carbon emissions from the blast furnace can be reduced by replacing the carbon in the blast furnace with hydrogen as a reducing agent and energy source.
This means conditions are now in place for future operation of the blast furnaces, as far as technically possible, with green hydrogen. The precondition for this as well as for the complete conversion of our steel production to hydrogen – based then on other technologies like electric furnaces and hydrogen-based direct reduction plants – is the future availability in Saarland of green hydrogen in sufficient quantities and at competitive conditions.

Responsibility for the future

“Dillinger and Saarstahl adopted a future-focused strategy last year with the motto ‘proactive, carbon-free, efficient’. In the course of this, we also defined the specific steps for the complete conversion of our production to green steel,” Tim Hartmann added. “We are ready and eagerly awaiting the starting signal from the legislators. For the next major steps, reliable political framework conditions must be ensured in three areas: a fair foreign trade framework, support during the transformation and sufficient green energy at competitive prices. Our ambitious goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2035. The political framework for this must be created during this year. The German government’s Steel Action Plan and the current German presidency of the EU Council provide the framework for this. Berlin and Brussels will have to demonstrate their commitment to the Green Deal by the end of this year. Time is running out!”
Independent of this, the companies are pushing ahead with further major energy efficiency projects and making sustained investments in the optimization of existing plants. Dillinger and Saarstahl, for example, have made environment-related investments totaling €70 million in the last two years.

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