Rio Tinto Trialing Biomass in Low-Carbon Steel Technology
Rio Tinto has developed over the past decade a process that combines the use of raw, sustainable biomass with microwave technology to convert iron ore to metallic iron during the steelmaking process, the company said in a press release.
The process utilizes lignocellulosic biomass, a plant matter, instead of coal as a chemical reductant.
The biomass is blended with iron ore and heated by a combination of gas released by the biomass and high-efficiency microwaves.
Researchers at Rio Tinto are working with a group at the University of Nottingham to further develop the technology.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said, “We are encouraged by early testing results of this new process, which could provide a cost-efficient way to produce low-carbon steel from our Pilbara iron ore.”
“More than 70% of Rio Tinto’s Scope 3 emissions are generated as customers process our iron ore into steel, which is critical for urbanization and infrastructure development as the world’s economies decarbonize. So, while it’s still early days and there is a lot more research and other work to do, we are keen to explore further development of this technology,” Trott added.