A carbon recycling project from ArcelorMittal seeks to make steel production more sustainable while at the same time producing a clean ethanol that can be used for a variety of other processes.
The project at a carbon capture utilization (CCU) plant in Belgium that ArcelorMittal is calling “Steelanol” will use biocatalysts to transform carbon-intense waste gases from steelmaking and form them into biomass to produce ethanol. Once production at the facility reaches capacity, ArcelorMittal says it will have the capacity to produce 80 million liters of ethanol.
The $211.6 million project is also expected to reduce yearly carbon emissions at the site by 125,000 metric tons. The carbon recycling technology was developed by LanzaTech, and ArcelorMittal says the CCU plant is the first of its kind for the European steel industry.
Ethanol produced from the project will be used as the foundation for a variety of chemical products, which will also help reduce emissions in the chemical industry, ArcelorMittal says. Those products include transportation fuels, paints, plastics, clothing, and personal care products.
The steel industry, which produces up to 9% of all emissions according to the World Steel Association, faces the tough task of making its carbon-intensive operations more sustainable. A report from Zero Waste Europe and Eunomia Research and Consulting earlier this year finds that even with significant changes, steel and other carbon-heavy materials face the possibility of missing carbon budgets.
That has the industry making changes to facilities, using electric arc furnaces, transitioning to green hydrogen use, and using recycled and natural materials. ArcelorMittal has a goal to reduce its carbon intensity by 25% overall and 35% in its European operations by 2030.
Earlier in 2022, ArcelorMittal acquired recycling company John Lawrie Metals to increase the use of sustainable materials in steel making. Increasing the use of scrap steel in electric and arc furnaces is part of the company’s decarbonization plan.
In addition to the Steelanol project, ArcelorMittal is planning a project in Belgium called Torero that is designed to process sustainable biomass. The nearly $43 million project is expected to be operational during the first quarter of 2023 and the company intends to use the biomass in blast furnaces instead of coal, ultimately lowering emissions.
The project is expected to reduce emissions by 112,500 metric tons, and the process will initially focus on waste wood that cannot be used in other applications. ArcelorMittal also plans to add a second reactor over the next few years, which it says will double the size of the project.
Joining LanzaTech in partnering on the Steelanol project were Primetals Technologies and energy company E4Tech. The ethanol produced from the project will be jointly marketed by ArcelorMittal and LanzaTech and called Carbalyst.