Kobelco Group’s CO₂ Reduction Solution for Blast Furnace Ironmaking Enhanced

—Improved technology to reduce CO₂ emissions from blast furnace by 25% successfully demonstrated —

October 17, 2023

Kobe Steel, Ltd.

Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that it has successfully demonstrated a technology that can reduce CO2 emissions by 25%*1 from a large blast furnace. Significantly exceeding the previous results of the Kobelco Group’s CO2 Reduction Solution for Blast Furnace Ironmaking*2, announced in February 2021, the new technology has achieved the world’s highest level of CO2 reduction effect among the CO2 reduction methods demonstrated in existing blast furnaces that have been made public so far. The demonstration test was conducted for approximately two months using a large blast furnace (4,844 m3) at Kakogawa Works from April to June 2023.

The quantity of CO2 emissions from the blast furnace is determined by the reducing agent rate (RAR)*3, namely the quantity of carbon fuel used in the blast furnace. In the demonstration test, it was verified that RAR could be stably reduced to the world’s lowest level of 386 kg/tHM (ton hot metal) by charging a large amount of hot briquetted iron (HBI)*4 produced by the MIDREX® Process*5. The results prove that this technology can reduce CO2 emissions by 25% compared to a conventional method*6. In addition, the world's lowest level of coke rate (230 kg/tHM) was also achieved in the demonstration test of this technology. As a CO2 reduction solution that draws on existing technologies, it enables stable and early reduction of a large amount of CO2 emissions from commercial large blast furnaces.

The new technology has been developed by taking advantage of our strengths as a company engaged in a diverse range of businesses—exploring further integration and enhancement of our engineering business’s MIDREX technologies*7 and steel business’s blast furnace operation technologies.

The key technologies utilized for this demonstration are:

All of these technologies were developed exclusively by the Kobe Steel Group (Kobelco Group), but they are also applicable to other companies’ blast furnaces.

We will continue to improve our low-CO2 blast furnace operation technologies, including further reducing CO2 emissions and lowering CO2 reduction costs. We aim to use this new solution not only to reduce our own CO2 emissions, but also to accelerate CO2 reduction in the global steel industry by promoting the introduction of HBI charging in blast furnaces worldwide.

The success of this demonstration is a result of our Group’s ongoing efforts to achieve the 2030 target for reducing CO2 emissions in its production processes*8. By utilizing the CO2 reduction effect achieved by this demonstration, we will work to build a system to increase production and supply of Kobenable Steel*9, Japan’s first low-CO2 blast furnace steel product and promote its use by customers and society.

Our Group’s mission is to develop and establish technologies that can reduce CO2 emissions as quickly as possible and at the lowest cost in order to proceed with the initiatives to create a green society toward the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 2050 as declared by the Japanese government.

Our Group has always strived to and will continue to work to reduce CO2 emissions through the integration of technologies in a way unique to Kobelco with a view to realizing a world in which people, now and in the future, can fulfill their hopes and dreams while enjoying safe, secure, and prosperous lives.

  • *1 Reduction of CO2 emissions from a single blast furnace (Scope 1 + Scope 2)

  • *2 Kobelco Group’s CO2 Reduction Solution for Blast Furnace Ironmaking
    —Successfully demonstrated a reduction of CO2 emissions from a blast furnace by approximately 20%, with RAR stably reduced to 415 kg/tHM

  • *3 Reducing agent rate (RAR) = coke rate (determined by the quantity of coke used in blast furnace) + pulverized coal rate (the quantity of pulverized coal injected into blast furnace).
    Coke: Carbon fuel made from coal
    Pulverized coal: Coal broken into fine particles

  • *4 Hot briquetted iron (HBI) is direct reduced iron (DRI) in a briquetted form. Since hot DRI is not suitable for long-distance transportation, it is pressed into a compact solid (briquette) upon being discharged from the reduction furnace.

  • *5 The MIDREX® Process is a leading direct reduced iron (DRI) making process, which produces approximately 80% of the world’s direct reduced iron with natural gas (approximately 60% of the world’s direct reduced iron at large). The MIDREX® Process uses natural gas as the reductant and pellets made of iron ore as the source of iron to make DRI through the reduction process in the shaft furnace. In comparison to the blast furnace method, the MIDREX® Process can reduce CO2 emissions by 20–40%. Over 90 MIDREX modules have been delivered worldwide.

  • *6 The results are compared to fiscal 2013, which is the base year of the CO2 reduction targets set by the government and the Kobelco Group.

  • *7 MIDREX technologies: Direct reduction ironmaking technologies owned by Midrex Technologies, Inc., Kobe Steel’s wholly owned subsidiary in the United States.

  • *8 The 2030 target for reduction of CO2 emissions in production processes: 30–40% (compared to fiscal 2013), based on Scope 1 + Scope 2 (total CO2 emissions from three production sites Kakogawa Works, Kobe Wire Rod & Bar Plant, and Takasago Works)

  • *9 Kobenable Steel: We have obtained third-party certification from DNV BUSINESS ASSURANCE SERVICES UK LIMITED, a certification body in the United Kingdom, for the CO2 reduction effect achieved in the demonstration test. Using the mass balance method*10, the CO2 reduction effect is assigned to specific steel products—commercialized as the low-CO2 blast furnace steel product Kobenable Steel.

  • *10 The mass balance method is to allocate specific characteristics to a certain portion of products according to the input amount of raw materials with the characteristics when there is a mix of raw materials with and with no such characteristics (e.g., low CO2) in the manufacturing process. This approach has been used for products such as recycled plastics, bioplastics, electricity generated from renewable energy sources, and certified food products like cocoa and palm oil, for which separation of product properties is difficult due to the manufacturing process or the nature of supply chains. Our Company reduced the amount of coke used and thereby reduced its CO2 emissions in the ironmaking process by replacing a portion of iron ore with HBI (direct reduced iron). In accordance with 5.4.2 Mass balance model of the ISO 22095:2022 Chain of Custody, we have employed the mass balance method to allocate CO2 reduction effects to specific products and sell them as low-CO2 blast furnace products with added environmental value.

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