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With hydrogen to climate-neutral steel production

thyssenkrupp Steel’s climate strategy for sustainable steel production

The goal is clear: Steelmaking at thyssenkrupp is to be climate-neutral by 2050. With its climate strategy the company is stepping up its current activities to reduce emissions, accepting its social responsibility and showing its commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. As an initial target thyssenkrupp is aiming to reduce emissions from its own production and processes and from the purchase of energy by 30 percent versus the base year 2018 by 2030.

Climate strategy of thyssenkrupp Steel

The future is climate-neutral

Transformation of steel production

Transformation of steel production

thyssenkrupp Steel has steadily and significantly reduced emissions in steel production in recent years, bringing processes close to their theoretical optimum. This means that fundamental technological changes will be necessary to achieve climate-neutral steel production. thyssenkrupp Steel is pursuing an open approach and focusing on two parallel, equally important routes: the avoidance of CO2 through the use of hydrogen (“Carbon Direct Avoidance”, CDA) and the use of CO2 produced in steelmaking (“Carbon Capture and Usage”, CCU). thyssenkrupp is taking a step-by-step approach.

Two technological paths, one goal

Hydrogen for climate-neutral steel

Zwei Technologiepfade – ein Ziel
The world first

The concept: CO2 becomes raw materials. In September 2018, thyssenkrupp produced methanol from steel mill gases for the first time at its Carbon2Chem® technical center in Duisburg.

2020 onwards

The pilot system at the Duisburg steel plant uses steel mill gases to produce base chemicals.

Large-scale production
2025 onwards

We will use the unavoidable CO2 as a raw material on an industrial scale. The Carbon2Chem® technology can also be used in other sectors, like the cement industry.

H2 in the blast furnace
2019 - 2022

We have been testing the use of hydrogen in a working blast furnace since 2019. The goal: The equipment of blast furnace 9.

The milestone
2024 onwards

Using a large-scale direct reduction plant (DR) which will be operated using green H2 in the future, thyssenkrupp will produce sponge iron which will then be processed in the blast furnaces (BF), allowing a further reduction in emissions.

The melting unit
2026 onwards

We will optimize the hot metal system using a new, electrically powered melting unit. The sponge iron from the DR plant is thus liquefied for the BOF meltshop. In this way, we will replace the first coal-based blast furnace

The scale-up
2030 onwards

We will replace another coal-based blast furnace using a second, larger DR plant and another melting unit.

2050 onwards

We will produce our steel climate-neutrally in four DR plants and four melting units.

Continual development of the climate strategy

Transformation of steel production

thyssenkrupp Steel is continually developing both paths. The company is always seeking for even more efficient solutions or possibilities of accelerating for instance through new technological findings. In the hydrogen path, thyssenkrupp Steel also always takes into account the availability of hydrogen, as the hydrogen economy is still in its infancy.

tkH2Steel: hydrogen path

The test – hydrogen in the blast furnace

The test – hydrogen in the blast furnace

“We’re using hydrogen as a reducing agent in the blast furnace,” says Dr. Arnd Köfler, Chief Technology Officer at thyssenkrupp Steel, explaining the first step toward avoiding CO2 emissions. The hydrogen replaces coal: Where CO2 is released when using coal, hydrogen simply produces steam. As the worldwide first of several tests, hydrogen was injected into one of the 28 tuyeres on blast furnace 9 at the Duisburg-Hamborn site on November 11, 2019. The hydrogen is delivered by Air Liquide by road tanker. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding this project under its IN4climate initiative. In the first months since the tests started, thyssenkrupp Steel has already made good progress and gained important findings.

“In order to achieve ambitious climate protection with a globally competitive industry in the future, there must be innovations in industrial and energy-intensive processes such as steel production. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia would like to go along this transformation path together with industry and science. The pilot project shows that our IN4climate.NRW initiative is already bearing fruit. I am glad that we have thyssenkrupp Steel, Air Liquide and BFI here as innovative partners by our side.”

Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Link to press release project phase 1

Recording on 2020-08-28

Recording of the injection test on 2019-11-11

Impressions from the injection test on 2019-11-11

Complete conversion of the blast furnace to hydrogen

blast furnace 8 and 9

If the tests on one tuyere are successful, the next step will be to expand the process to all 28 tuyeres of the blast furnace by 2022. The hydrogen will then be supplied from an Air Liquide grid, from which a roughly 6.5 kilometer pipeline will be laid to the blast furnace. “Theoretically, replacing pulverized coal with hydrogen at this stage of the production process has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 20 percent,” says Dr. Arnd Köfler.

The next key step: Direct reduction

The next key step: Direct reduction

Even though converting blast furnace 9 to hydrogen will enable first reductions of emissions in the short term and also a first green product, a fundamental transformation of steel production is required. The development of direct reduction plants (DR plants) represents a key change. The DR plants operate on the basis of gases. If hydrogen is used, they release no emissions. Since climate-neutrally produced hydrogen will not be available in sufficient quantities in the foreseeable future, natural gas can also be used for a temporary period. This will lead to a significant reduction of emissions as compared to the coal-based blast furnace route. thyssenkrupp Steel will commission the first large-scale DR plant in 2024.

Integration of DR plants into the existing steel mill

In contrast to the blast furnace, DR plants do not produce hot metal, but solid sponge iron (“Direct Reduced Iron“, DRI). It must be melted down into a hot metal-like product so that it can be further processed into high-quality steel. Together with manufacturers, thyssenkrupp Steel is therefore developing a completely new plant in order to optimize the hot metal system. It is a power-operated melting unit, which is combined with the DR plant. Direct reduction plants with melting units - just like a blast furnace - continuously produce a liquid product. As a result, the new plants can be seamlessly integrated into the existing metallurgical plant. The great advantage is that the existing and proven processes in the Duisburg-based BOF meltshops can be maintained. The liquid product is processed into the proven steel grades there. Thus, we are continuing to boil steel like in the past – but with hydrogen and green power instead of coal

Using emissions: Carbon2Chem®

Steel mill gases as a raw material

The second method thyssenkrupp is pursuing in its goal to become climate-neutral by 2050 is the Carbon2Chem® project in which the company processes gases produced during steel production for later use. The German federal government has funded the first phase of the project since 2016 with more than €60 million. Since 2020, the second phase is running, which is also being funded by the German federal government with more than €75 million. “Steel production generates steel mill gases with components that contain carbon. With Carbon2Chem®, we are able to convert these gases into base chemicals for use in the chemical industry, which would otherwise require synthetic gas from imported fossil resources such as oil or natural gas,” says Dr. Markus Oles, project coordinator of Carbon2Chem®, describing the project’s central aim. “These base chemicals can then be used to make fertilizers, plastics, or fuels, for example.”

Since September 2018 thyssenkrupp has been working on this technology at the Carbon2Chem® technology center in Duisburg and has – for the first time anywhere in the world – produced ammonia and methanol from steel mill gases. Using both of these methods – Carbon2Chem® and the use of hydrogen as a reducing agent – in parallel will allow thyssenkrupp to considerably reduce the emissions of its existing blast furnaces. Carbon2Chem® technology can also be employed in other industries.

To the Carbon2Chem® site

First climate-neutral product by 2022


The climate strategy of thyssenkrupp Steel based on two paths enables both climate-neutrality in the long term and reductions in emissions in the short term. This involves the launch of a climate-neutral product in the near future. By 2022, thyssenkrupp Steel will produce around 50,000 tonnes of climate-neutral steel per year using hydrogen in the blast furnace. Once the DR systems have been set up, this volume will be continuously rising in the years to come. Given the necessary investment and the higher price of hydrogen as compared to that of carbon, thyssenkrupp Steel still expects higher prices for climate-neutral steel.

The political framework conditions

Setting the right course

German Bundestag

The conversion of production processes to hydrogen as reducing agent is a challenging task, not only from a technological point of view. At the political level, too, many decisions must be made in the short term at the European and national levels so that thyssenkrupp and other steel producers can implement the transformation in a cost-effective way. First of all, regulatory framework conditions are needed for the purchase of hydrogen, so that it can be transported and is available in sufficient quantities and at competitive prices. The production of “green“ hydrogen also depends on the massive expansion of renewable energies. As the demand cannot be covered by the “domestic market“ alone, imports must be considered. The hydrogen strategy adopted by the German federal government is an important basis for such regulatory issues. It has to be aligned with the European hydrogen strategy.

With a view to the structural modifications of the plants and to the achievement of the climate goals, the company also relies on swift approval procedures. If the economic basis for the necessary investments in transformation is to be ensured, production conditions for the steel industry must not deteriorate. This applies in particular to the purchase of energy and the impact of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). In order not to further increase the pressure on the cost-effectiveness of the transformation, it is also necessary to effectively apply existing or create new trade protection instruments that protect European steel producers from unfair imports. Ultimately, in order to create a sales market for climate-neutral steel, incentives for its use on the customer side are also necessary.

The responsibility of the steel industry

Mission: Climate neutrality

Mission: Climate neutrality

It has been five years since 195 countries agreed to work together to slow global warming. The binding international accord passed at the Paris Climate Convention in December 2015 was celebrated around the world as a historic milestone. The long-term target of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels is a task for the entire international community and can only be achieved through carefully coordinated measures. The European steel industry is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making its contribution to meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement.

Recycling old steel into new

Steel is a symbol of the circular economy

Steel has established itself as an eco-friendly material. Large quantities of the durable material have already been in circulation for decades and are 100% recyclable. Around 500 million tonnes of steel are recycled every year worldwide, saving one billion tonnes of raw materials. This makes steel a key factor in the transition to the circular economy. The circular economy also focuses on further optimizing carbon-based metallurgy and recycling carbon in synergy with other industry sectors.

Recycling also plays an important role in life cycle assessments – LCAs for short – for example in the automotive industry. They consider all ecological and economic aspects from production to use to recycling. Steel already scores higher than other materials in many LCA comparisons. The more CO2 that can be saved during steel production in the future, the greater these advantages will become as the production processes for alternative materials have a significantly bigger carbon footprint.

New energy through steel

No energy transition without steel


A climate-neutral society is unimaginable without steel. Many products and industries are reliant on steel to achieve technical progress and reduce their carbon footprint. “No energy transition without steel” is the motto: Wind turbines, for example, are up to 80 percent steel, while electrical steel serves as a basic component in efficient electric motors, generators, and smart power grids.

To look at it another way: No climate-neutral steelmaking without clean energy. This shows how important it is to take a holistic approach to the issue of climate protection and how closely industry and the energy transition are interlinked.

We need steel to achieve the ambitious climate targets. To secure its future in a climate-neutral society, the way it is produced will be revolutionized over the next three decades. With tkH2Steel, thyssenkrupp has already made a start on this.

“Even though steel production is an energy-intensive process, trying to do without steel altogether is like trying to stop the clock to save time.”

Dr. Arnd Köfler, Member of the Executive Board of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG


  • Electrical hot metal from blast furnace 2.0: thyssenkrupp presents Federal Economics Minister Altmaier and State Premier Laschet innovative concept for green transformation of Duisburg steel mill

  • Green hydrogen for steel production: RWE and thyssenkrupp plan partnership

  • World first in Duisburg as NRW economics minister Pinkwart launches tests at thyssenkrupp into blast furnace use of hydrogen

  • Graphic: Hydrogen for the blast furnace

  • Hydrogen instead of coal. thyssenkrupp Steel launches pioneering project for climatefriendly steel production at its Duisburg site


ThyssenKrupp Contact

Business Segment Steel Europe

Mark Stagge

Head of Media Relation

Telephone: +49 (0)203 52-25159

Fax: +49 (0)203 52-25707

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