Iron ore and scrap as raw materials are forming the base of iron and steel production. Due to the transition from carbon-based iron and steel production to green steel production with hydrogen (H2), most current production units such as sinter plan, blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace will be replaced by the direct reduction process (DR process) followed by the electric arc furnace (EAF). As a result, the current recycling routes for mill scale will be cut off and the demand for high quality direct reduction pellets and high-quality scrap will rise, becoming a critical factor. New by-products from the gas treatment of the DR process and iron pellets sieving will emerge.
Because of this, technologies for an upgrade and use of low-quality iron ores and scrap are necessary to avoid lack of raw materials. Furthermore, the importance of the internal reuse of iron containing residues during iron and steel production increases, especially in the scope of the EU aim of 100% circular economy.
Specific potential to replace substitute rare high quality raw materials would be to recycle coarse scale as scrap equivalent and the fine fraction of iron ore sieving to upgrade low quality ores. One main idea of TransZeroWaste is to combine both materials – low quality iron ore and scrap equivalent materials – to produce a raw material for the DR-EAF process route with a high iron content and less disturbing compounds leading to a new win-win situation. These scrap equivalent materials have a volume of up to 9 Mt/a in Europe but are after transition not or only very limited used e.g. due to the replaced omission of sinter plants and the presence of disturbing impurities. The requirements for a reuse of these materials in the DR process are not or only limited known as well as the compositions. Technologies for the reuse of low-quality iron ores and for the preparation of still or new occurring iron containing materials are needed, to ensure the sufficient supply of raw materials in iron and steel production, even in the case of increasing demands.
TransZeroWaste and its Innovative Actions address the following key objectives:
• Upgrading low-grade iron ore by combining it with iron-rich by-products;
• Development of innovative techniques to produce high-quality pre-material for decarbonised future production routes;
• Separation of disturbing components from byproducts to replace scrap;
• Development of the technological basis and digital tools supporting the transition towards zero waste in the European steel industry.
All objectives are clearly related to the objectives of the Clean Steel Partnership.
The developed technologies will be supported by environmental (using life cycle assessment – LCA – methodology and circularity evaluation) and economic indicators (using life cycle costing – LCC – methodology) to identify the most suitable design options and ensure the improvement of sustainability performances compared to the current technologies.
The outcomes of the TransZeroWaste could contribute to the upgrade of 27 million t/a materials and to the avoided greenhouse gas emissions of sinter plants, corresponding to 4,3 to 9,9 Mt CO2/a.