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Kanthal supports HYBRIT in quest to develop world’s first fossil free sponge iron

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A strategic partnership between Kanthal and HYBRIT aims to develop an electric gas heating solution for the fossil-free hydrogen used to reduce iron ore in the HYBRIT process.

HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) is a cooperation between the steel company SSAB, mining company LKAB and the energy company Vattenfall. Its aim is to revolutionize the steelmaking technology by replacing the coal-based blast furnace process with a direct reduction process, based on hydrogen produced with fossil free electricity. The result will be a fossil-free value chain, from mine to steel. One of the challenges in the HYBRIT process is the ability to preheat large amounts of hydrogen, and this is where Kanthal will contribute.

“This is groundbreaking for Kanthal, but also for HYBRIT,” says Anders Björklund, President, Kanthal. “Many industries around the world are struggling to find a solution that can heat large amounts of gas right now. With this collaboration, we can develop a viable solution together.”

Currently, HYBRIT operates a pilot plant in northern Sweden and Kanthal is developing the first heater and preparing it for testing in the pilot plant. The heater will be in the 250 kW range, and if it proves successful, it will be upgraded to a 1 MW version. The ambition is to develop a large-scale heating solution that could heat high volumes of hydrogen up to 1,000°C (1,832°F). The development project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency.

“This is a huge leap from kilowatts to megawatts, and is something that has never been done before,” says Björklund. “It is one thing to have a technical solution, but it is quite another to have a solution that is robust and reliable enough to operate in the steel industry.”

In addition to the pilot plant, HYBRIT plans for an industrial scale demonstration plant, to be commissioned by 2026 and produce one million tons of iron per year. If Kanthal’s heating solution meets the technical, financial and time requirements of the pilot plant, it will be up-scaled and installed in the demonstration plant.

”Fossil free gas heating is an important component in our groundbreaking technological development towards a completely fossil free value chain from mine to steel”, says Andreas Regnell, SVP Strategic Development at Vattenfall and Chairman of HYBRIT. “We look forward to the cooperation with Kanthal, and through HYBRIT’s unique pilot plant facility, we are able to industrialize this concept together.”

Currently, the steel industry accounts for up to 7 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. If it could be produced without emissions, it would not only make steel production cleaner, but would also have knock-in effects for every other industry that uses steel.

“There is enormous potential in this area, and the knowledge and experience we are gaining from this project can be applied to other applications,” says Björklund. “Collaborations like these are a great way of developing new products.”

More information can be found on kanthal.com/

For questions, please contact Patrik Johansson, Global Marketing Communications Manager, Kanthal, at patrik.a.johansson@kanthal.com or +46 (0)70 616 2726

Kanthal® is a world-leading brand for products and services in the fields of sustainable industrial heating technology and resistance materials. The company is part of the Sandvik Group and has a strong tradition in innovation and extensive investments in R&D.

The company revolutionized the heating industry in 1931 by introducing the iron-chromium-aluminum (FeCrAl) alloy. Since then, Kanthal has launched game-changing materials and products, such as the high-power molybdenum disilicide (MoSi2) Kanthal® Super heating elements and the corrosion-resistant materials Kanthal® APM and APMT. In 2019, Kanthal launched their additive manufacturing services with Kanthal® AM100, the world’s first alloy for heating application that is specially developed for 3D-printing.