London — German steel group Salzgitter said Monday it expects to take a new hydrogen electrolyzer into operation at the end of 2020, which will cover requirements at its main steelmaking arm.
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Salzgitter ordered a 2.2 MW Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyzer from Siemens Gas and Power in November, marking the first development for trialling hydrogen-based steel production.
The Salzgitter Flachstahl unit is managing the hydrogen strategy at the group, under the SALCOS project, which aims to generate hydrogen through electrolysis and electricity generated by wind power generators onsite.
Salzgitter sees the possibility of expanding the existing steelworks in central Germany with new facilities, including a direct reduction iron plant initially using natural gas and hydrogen. This is yet to be decisively proved technically and commercially feasible.
Salzgitter's integrated steel operations produces 8 million mt/year of carbon, mainly due to coking coal used for iron reduction.
The company highlighted the potential for a drastic reduction in carbon allowances under the EU Emissions Trading System which could raise costs.
The SALCOS strategy is dependent on government policy, and the political framework conditions and economic efficiency criteria met to move forward, the company said on its website.