Salzgitter considers DRI plant in northern Germany

German steelmaker’s feasibility study examines direct reduced iron production; could be predecessor to EAF investment.

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June 25, 2020

Salzgitter, Germany-based integrated steel producer Salzgitter AG says it has reached an agreement with the German state of Lower Saxony, the city of Wilhelmshaven and technology partners Rhenus and Uniper to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in the port city of Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

The study will examine the potential of building a DRI plant and “developing the necessary infrastructure for supplying it with raw materials, natural gas and hydrogen,” says the firm. The results of the study are expected by March 2021 “at the latest.”

DRI is most commonly used in electric arc furnace (EAF) steel production. In a March presentation to investors, Salzgitter said emerging EU emissions reduction regulations were leading it toward the use of hydrogen as a fuel source to make DRI. This likely would be followed by EAF melt shop technology as the next step. The same presentation also states, “Green steel requires public start-up funding and political incentives.”

Regarding the DRI feasibility study, Salzgitter CEO Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann comments, “This is another concrete step in our process of evolving toward low CO2, hydrogen-based steel production underpinned by our prestigious SALCOS (SAlzgitter Low CO2 Steelmaking) technology concept. Together with our local industrial partners, the Wilhelmshaven site offers very favorable preconditions for an optimal sector coupling of renewable energies for hydrogen electrolysis and the low CO2 direct reduction of iron ore."

The planned facility could produce up to 2 million tons of DRI per year. The steelmaking feedstock would be transported by rail to Salzgitter and processed there into strip steel products at the Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH steelmaking complex.

Potential project partner Uniper SE is an energy firm and the other partner, the Rhenus Group, provides multimodal logistics services.