Revolution at the heart of green steelmaking
A low-carbon pilot steel production facility in northern Sweden could drastically reduce the industry’s carbon emissions

In June 2018, a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony took place at the site of a pilot steel plant in Luleå, Northern Sweden. It marked the start of a project which is hoped will eventually lead to a revolution in steelmaking – the reduction of the factory’s carbon emissions to virtually nil.

The project, called HYBRIT – HYdrogen BReakthrough Ironmaking Technology – aims to replace the coke that is traditionally used in steelmaking with hydrogen produced from renewable electricity. Both coke and hydrogen can be used as a reducing agent to remove impurities from iron ore. In traditional steelmaking, the carbon in coke reacts with the oxygen in iron ore to form carbon dioxide. If hydrogen is used instead of coke then it reacts with the oxygen in iron ore to form…water vapour.

“Sweden has good access to renewable electricity, easy access to water, Europe’s highest-quality iron ore, and a specialised, innovative steel industry”

Mårten Görnerup, CEO of HYBRIT
Those involved in the project believe it has the potential to significantly decarbonise the steel industry in Sweden and elsewhere. Indeed, the steel industry as a whole has been continually striving to improve the efficiency of its processes, and producing a tonne of steel now takes 40% of the energy it required in 1960.



HYBRIT is a joint venture between SSAB, the largest steel producer in the Nordics, LKAB, Europe’s largest iron ore producer, and Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest electricity producers. If the project is successful, it has the potential to reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent, and Finland’s by seven percent.

Mårten Görnerup, CEO of the joint venture company, explains the project timeline: “A pre-feasibility study began in 2016 and now we are building the pilot plant and will run tests between 2020 and 2024.

“By 2028, we will scale up to a demonstration plant which will run as an industrial facility operating 24/7 for months. All being well, the goal is to have an industrial process in place by 2035.”