We well know that steel manufacturing is an environmentally costly process. As it stands, creating one tonne of steel releases two tonnes of C0₂, as well as being a major consumer of fossil fuels.
However, the need for steel has yet to abate, as it is essential in the survival and employment of many countries. The good news is that “green steel” may be a viable option in the very near future.
What is Green Steel?
As with so many wonderful discoveries, green steel was stumbled upon quite by accident. The brains at MIT were commissioned to explore ways of producing oxygen on the moon (Thanks NASA!)
During their research, they realised that when using molten oxide electrolysis to create oxygen from the iron oxide present in the lunar soil, steel was created as a by-product. If you have the time, read the full article here.
This green steel was, as it happens, of exceptional purity with significantly fewer harmful emissions created as a result.
However, as with any new concept, it needed to be commercially viable if it was going to be accepted into the steel industry.
The rather costly iridium anode used during the molten oxide electrolysis process was a sticking point. But, when there’s a will, there’s always a way, and the scientists discovered that a chromium-iron alloy would work just as well, albeit with a few modifications.
This is truly exciting news for a forward-thinking industry and for people who take their responsibilities of environmental stewardship seriously. We eagerly await the roll-out of effective processes which will allow both large- and small-scale steel manufacturers entry into the planet-friendly methodology of green steel.