Environmental and climate protection
The steel business of thyssenkrupp has defined environmental protection as a corporate goal and specified this in guidelines. A wide range of environmentally sound products and extensive know-how in the use of environmentally sound materials also make the steel business an innovative partner for environmental technologies.
The steel business of thyssenkrupp faces up to the challenge of climate protection
Through optimized processes:
We optimize our production facilities and processes so that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to an unavoidable minimum. 99 % of our process gases are reused as a source of energy. During the production of steel, CO2 is produced as an unavoidable byproduct of the reduction of iron ore with the help of coke and coal. The quantity of CO2 emissions in the steel industry therefore depends directly on the level of pig iron and steel production. The steel business of thyssenkrupp has continually reduced the use of the reducing agents of coke and coal over the last few decades by means of process optimizations.
In steel as a material:
We are developing steel in such a way that the use of this material makes an increasing contribution to climate protection. For example, throughout their useful life, cars with such lighter steel auto bodies save more CO2 than is produced to manufacture the steel used for their production. Numerous steel applications in the field of regenerative energy, such as wind and hydroelectric power, or in photovoltaic systems demonstrate that material solutions from steel are vital for effective climate protection. In contrast to many other construction materials, in the case of steel a raw material is again available at the end of its periods of use which is infinitely recyclable. This also further sustainably reduces the CO2 emissions.
European emissions trading
The steel business of thyssenkrupp's aim is to continuously reduce C02 emissions in the production process. As part of the European emissions trading system we work to systematically improve climate protection measures in our steel production operations as far as possible within the given technical and economic constraints.
EU emissions trading is an instrument of EU climate policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (such as CO2) by setting levels for emissions reduction at government level; however, the system leaves it to the market as to how these reductions are achieved. The companies under the scheme must purchase an allowance for each ton of CO2 emitted; each year only a limited number of new certificates are available, and this volume is reduced year by year.
In addition, for every trading period the European Commission specifies how many emission allowances are allocated to the companies free of charge. Should the allocated number of allowances not be enough to cover a company’s emissions, the company must purchase additional allowances. Since 2012 the free allocation has been calculated on the basis of demanding benchmarks. The EU Commission’s intention in this is to guarantee that the most efficient technologies set the standard for the market so as to create an effective incentive to reduce emissions.
In this context, the term “carbon leakage” describes the risk of companies relocating their sites outside the EU to avoid participation in EU emissions trading and the associated costs. An assessment of the risk of carbon leakage per sector therefore has a great effect on the freely allocated allowances and the EU ETS costs to be borne by a company. Under current carbon leakage regulations, energy-intensive industries in particular, such as the steel industry, are classified as worthy of protection and subject to free allocation of CO2 allowances.
These are essential for the steel business of thyssenkrupp to hold its own in the market against competitors not bound by the emissions trading rules.
- unrealistic benchmarks which cannot be achieved by even the best steelmaking equipment in Europe
- linear and overarching reduction factors which further reduce the free allocations and
- constant changes to the emissions trading system
require the continuous purchase of emissions allowances. This places ever increasing financial burdens on the companies. Given that electricity is twice as expensive and gas three times more expensive than for example in the USA, this results in increasing distortions of competition for European producers who have to compete on the international markets. Moreover, investment decisions by companies are delayed or canceled because they have no long-term planning security.
To avert the risk of carbon leakage in Europe, i.e. the migration of European industrial companies to non-European countries, it is essential that an international agreement is reached so as to prevent the de-industrialization of the European Economic Area.
And in fact the steel sector has already made a major contribution to reducing CO2 emissions with the technical and economic options available to it. Measured in terms of finished steel products, emissions in the European Union have been reduced by more than 21 percent. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, further greenhouse gas reductions of at most approx. ten percent can be achieved by the year 2050.
- As part of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the entire European steel industry (with an output of 166 million tons per year, Mt/a) should receive free emissions allowances so as to reduce competitive disadvantages versus steel producers in countries where there is no ETS such as China (779 Mt/a), Japan (111 Mt/a), the USA (87 Mt/a), Russia (70 Mt/a) and India (81 Mt/a).
- The level of this free allocation should be based on the best equipment standards available in Europe so as to ensure that climate-friendly behavior is rewarded.
- Unless there is an international agreement including the biggest CO2 emitters, as prices for CO2 allowances rise many European companies may face economic ruin
Water pollution control
The steel business of thyssenkrupp is committed to the protection of water resources and the economic use of this natural resource.
For the production of steel, large quantities of water of varying quality are required in different manufacturing steps. The steel business of thyssenkrupp requires around 1 billion m³ of water – but only 3% of this is obtained as fresh water. At all of our locations we operate water recirculation systems in which the water is used up to 40 times before it is either evaporated or discharged as treated wastewater.
In addition to the protection of water resources, the minimization of wastewater quantities and the safe removal of wastewater, the careful handling of substances which are hazardous to water in our plants is of great importance. In addition to major expenditure for protective devices on the plants, such as secondary containment or double-walled plant sections, the intensive training of all employees who handle substances which are hazardous to water plays a key role. All maintenance departments of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG are specialist departments according to Paragraph 19l of the German Water Resources Act. Furthermore, the steel business of thyssenkrupp is a member of the Monitoring Community of the Metal Plant Operators (ÜMET), which was created together by the steel industry and the German Iron and Steel Institute (VDEh).
Important targets of the recycling management system at the steel business of thyssenkrupp are the prevention of waste or its recovery by means of an optimized material flow management system. For example, around 97% of the blast furnace slags produced that form a byproduct of hot metal production is processed directly into so-called blast furnace sand. Blast furnace sand is an important raw material for the production of cement. Through its use it is possible to protect natural resources such as limestone and avoid CO2 emissions compared to natural resources used as raw materials – as well as saving energy. Blast furnace and steelworks slags are also specifically produced as building materials, for example for road beds or embankments along rivers and lakes, or are used as highly sought-after fertilizers.
Iron-bearing dusts and sludges, such as those that arise during emission control and water treatment, are directly processed at the steel business of thyssenkrupp back into pig iron and slag. For this purpose, the company has developed the Oxy cup process, in which agglomerate bricks are initially created from the ferruginous dusts and sludges, which are then melted down in a shaft furnace to form pig iron and slag. This results not only in a higher recycling rate for iron, but also a reduction in CO2 emissions by around 200,000 tons per year. Furthermore, raw materials are saved and valuable landfill space is protected.
Air pollution control and noise protection
Air pollution control and noise protection are among the key tasks of environmental protection at the steel business of thyssenkrupp, as they have direct positive impacts on the neighborhood of the production facilities.
The high demands placed on air quality make elaborate emission control a necessity. We have therefore equipped our plants with dust removal equipment which sets technical standards worldwide. Nevertheless, the limit values of the EU Air Quality Directive present special challenges for the dust extraction technology. Due to the proximity of the production facilities to the residential neighborhood, special measures for emission reduction have to be taken. In a package of measures, the steel business of thyssenkrupp has voluntarily implemented a series of steps in order to further reduce the emissions of fine dust.
With a modern emission monitoring system, the steel business of thyssenkrupp provides transparency. The result of this is that at our German locations, the efficiency of the most important equipment for air pollution control is continually monitored. The data from these sources of emissions are evaluated online by a central computer and sent directly to the corresponding state supervisory authority.
In order to improve the noise situation, all new operating facilities are designed to be particularly noise-reducing. Furthermore, in many zones in the plant in Duisburg, noise protection barriers or walls have been set up.
The steel business of thyssenkrupp ensures the protection of the soil by a variety of measures. These aspects are incorporated at an early stage in the planning of new production facilities. During the construction and operation of plants, as well as shutdowns, soil protection plays an important role. Modern plant engineering minimizes contamination of the soil. Employee trainings provide instruction on how to carefully handle substances that might lead to soil contamination. A further aspect is the close integration of prevention and control with the protection of surface waters and emmissions.
Around 25 percent of the land owned at the Duisburg site of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG is open or vegetation areas which are created and maintained under environmental aspects. Greened ramparts are used to protect against emmissions and noise. At the same time, the surroundings are visually enhanced. Disused landfill sites or completed sections of landfill sites which are in operation are continually rehabilitated to green landscapes.