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Reducing C02 Emissions by Steel Manufacturers

Reducing C02 Emissions by Steel Manufacturers

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Reliance on steel by societies today and in the past has caused alarming rates of pollution through release of greenhouse gases. From major infrastructure to kitchenware, steel is ever present in our lives. These manufacturing plants release more than 3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, making steel manufacturing accountable for 5-7% of CO2 emission. This makes it among the three biggest producers of CO2. 
However, in the present and foreseeable future, the industry is being faced with immense pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. Investors in the steel industry are increasingly becoming aware of environmental, social, and governance issues surrounding the topic of pollution. Steel manufacturers have agreed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 as well as deliver on other commitments in the Paris Agreement. Its goal is to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. 
In the EU Green Deal, China has pledged to net-zero emissions by 2060, South Korea has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, and the United States proclaimed to reduce emissions by 50-52% by 2030. 

How is carbon produced in steel manufacturing?

Steel requires high temperatures to transform iron ore into steel. The energy is provided by burning coal. Fossil fuel use for steel production emits 1.85 tons of CO2 per tons of steel produced. Blast furnaces are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the steel mill. 

How much carbon is produced by the steel sector each year?

In 2021, steel companies produced 1.85 billion metric tons of steel. This translates roughly to 3.3 billion tons of CO2 emissions. Currently, the biggest steel producer is China, accounting for 57% of steel production. Consequently, this makes China the largest influencer of global steel. Being such a dominant player in the industry, a slowdown in China’s economy could spell doom for the global steel industry. 
The EU is currently the second largest steel producer worldwide, with an output of over 177 million tons of steel a year. 50% of steel produced in Europe is from scrap recycling. 

Green Steel Production

Steel production still emits as much carbon as it did 20 years ago. However, significant strides have been made in the recent past that would reduce emissions. Alternative technologies such as natural gas and use of hydrogen fuel made through electrolysis to create green steel. With government interventions such as subsidies, taxes, and tariffs, green steel would become cost competitive. At the moment, green steel costs twenty to thirty per cent more than traditional steel. 
New technologies that are implemented by steel companies have improved the recyclability of steel with no loss of quality. The use of scrap metal saves between 70-75% of the energy required to make steel from virgin materials. Recycling steel saves 1.5 tons of iron ore and reduces air emissions by 86%. 

How does Carbon Clean Technology Work in a Steel Plant?

Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS) is a technology that enables the capturing of CO2 emitted during industrial activities. CCUS has been praised as being one of the most promising ways of decarbonization and addressing the challenge of climate change. Nevertheless, swift action is needed so as to realize the impact before the cost of tackling climate change goes up.

Cost Benefit for Carbon Capture

Companies that extract natural gas from underground fields usually capture the CO2 released in the process, clean it and sell it as a usable commodity. This is an additional revenue stream. Captured CO2 can be used to fortify concrete, increasing infrastructure durability. 

Conclusion

Demand and consumption of steel will continue to rise as the economy opens up. As innovation in usability and sustainability develops, steel will remain an essential commodity we rely upon. 

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