"Green steel" might be a term that a lot of people will hear more of within the next few years.
While it may sound a little weird, green steel (or most specifically, carbon-free steel) is now a reality and has already been delivered to truck maker AB Volvo in Sweden, reports ScienceAlert. The company will use the green steel in its factories as part of a trial period, though they plan to start producing a fleet of vehicles made of green steel soon.
This green steel delivery is part of the efforts of Swedish steelmaker SSAB to make the future of steelmaking completely fossil fuel-free, from the mines to the finished products. That's because instead of using fossil fuel sources to make the steel, SSAB uses HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology).
In other words, SSAB makes green steel possible by using renewable hydrogen. Thus, the environmental impact of green steel mills will be far less than typical, oil-powered ones.
Should the trial run succeed at Volvo, SSAB and its partners hope to show the world the immense potential of HYBRIT and green steel on an industrial scale by 2026. This could have huge implications since SSAB is actually one of the major producers of carbon emissions in Sweden, according to Reuters.
Green Steel at a Glance: What Is It, Really?
There's nothing too different about green steel compared to typical steel. They're every bit as similar in terms of structure, strength, and overall usage scenarios. The only thing different about them is how they're produced.
To make steel the traditional way, coal or natural gas is used to strip the oxygen from the raw iron ore, in order to make pure iron metal. This process releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is what causes the Earth to suffer from climate change. But making green steel requires hydrogen fuel, which can be produced from renewable sources.
Making hydrogen fuel the traditional way could still use fossil fuels, but green steel makers want to use renewable energy sources like wind and solar. That's because the electricity that a wind turbine or solar panel generates can be used to strip the oxygen from the iron ore, all without producing greenhouse emissions.
It Begins and Ends With Climate Change
For years, the world has been making steel using fossil fuels. The world produces almost two tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of steel made using this non-environment-friendly method, according to The Conversation. In total, this comprises 7% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. In simpler terms, the steelmaking industry is one of the biggest culprits of climate change.
The global steel industry's impending shift to green steelmaking could be a massive saving grace from climate change, which experts predict could end human civilization by 2050 if left unchecked.
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Written by RJ Pierce