6 breakthrough technologies for our climate
When it comes to climate protection, we as an international group of companies bear significant responsibility. Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution concerning climate protection, we at thyssenkrupp use several technologies to help achieve our climate goals.
1. Direct reduction
CO2 is on everyone's lips, as it is harmful to our climate. However, it is hard to imagine the industry without it. For example, when we use coke in the blast furnace to produce molten pig iron, CO2 is inevitably released. At least in conventional steel production. So, what can we do to emit less CO2?
The setup of direct reduction plants (DR plants) is a crucial change here. DR plants run with gas and even work emission-free when green hydrogen is used. In contrast to conventional blast furnaces, direct reduction plants do not produce liquid pig iron but solid sponge iron. To process it further into high-quality steel, it molten down into a product similar to pig iron – ideally with the help of green energy.
thyssenkrupp Steel plans to put the first DR plant into operation on an industrial scale in 2024. This step could be a game changer, as one ton of hydrogen saves 26 tons of CO2.
In addition to the implementation of DR plants, the processing of resulting gases could be another lever for climate neutrality.
Carbon2Chem allows us to convert gases into base chemicals to generate fertilizers, plastics, or fuels. A practical approach since steel production, for instance, is a carbon-intensive industry. The impact? We can reduce emissions at thyssenkrupp and other heavy industries considerably.
3. Water electrolysis – a key technology for decarbonization
Another way to decarbonize a wide range of carbon-emitting activities is the use of hydrogen. Hydrogen, produced with renewable electricity by electrolysis, is vital for a successful energy transition and the achievement of international climate targets. For the production of green hydrogen, electricity from renewable sources is used. The water splits into its two elements: hydrogen and oxygen, for further use as energy carriers or industrial processes (Oxyfuel process).
The demand for industrial electrolysis plants allowing green hydrogen to be produced economically is rising steadily. Therefore, we have significantly extended our manufacturing capacities for electrolysis plants. With this climate technology, we can produce electrolysis cells with a total capacity of one gigawatt per year. Aiming for a 5 gigawatt supply chain, we want to extend our capacities continuously.
4. BioTfuel® – The fuel for the future must be sustainable
To archive climate neutrality, we also need to think about our fuel. What will drive us in the future? What will drive the next generation? Which other technologies for climate change will there be? One solution to further reduce CO2 emissions are biofuels. Using plant-based fuels instead of gasoline or diesel can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent.
However, there is a risk that cultivating biomass could take up arable land that could otherwise be used for food crops. In collaboration with French partners, we are researching a production method based on second-generation biomass. Second-generation biomass consists of mainly waste and residues such as straw and wood offcuts that do not compete with food crops.
With BioTfuel®, we develop a sustainable process chain, while both producing BioTfuel® economically as well as making it suitable for mass production. As a result, biomass as natural waste can be turned into high-quality fuel and diesel.
A change mindset coming with technologies for climate change must also take place in the construction industry, as approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions are attributable to the steadily growing cement industry. Only a third of these CO2 emissions result from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal or petroleum coke, while the biggest share is released by the calcination of limestone. Depending on quality, limestone – the main component of cement – consists of 35% to 44% CO2.
We, at thyssenkrupp, are developing technologies and solutions for sustainable cement production without losing sight of plant profitability and productivity. One example of this is our newly developed polysius® pure oxyfuel technology for optimum CO2 separation. With the second-generation polysius® pure oxyfuel process, exhaust gas recirculation can be eliminated. This results in considerable savings in investment and operating costs, thus making polysius® pure oxyfuel the best-in-class technology for CO2 capture. Another advantage is that existing kiln plants can also be retrofitted with this process. By using the polysius® pure oxyfuel process, our customers profit from optimized operating costs, while freeing our communities and environment from high CO2 emissions. Another step to help the climate.
We live in a time where the population is growing rapidly, and the question "How to feed humanity?" is a major issue. Since agriculture cannot avoid using fertilizers to meet demand, we have to come up with something.
The fact that about 60% of anthropogenic emissions originate from agriculture represents an environmental disaster. By producing fertilizers, nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, is emitted in large quantities. Here comes EnviNOx® into play. Thanks to the technology, N2O can be broken down into its components nitrogen and oxygen, leading to greater success in combating climate change.
Greenwashing or Game-changing?
Of course, we still have a tough road ahead of us to meet our climate goals. However, we are ready to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. Whether with our current technologies for climate change or the ones we will develop in the future. That is why we believe it is important to set many cogs in motion, expand, and advance our technologies. For ourselves, for upcoming generations, and for work we can be proud of in the future.