In 2017, Missouri became home to Nucor, the largest producer of steel in the United States, after the company announced plans to invest $250 million to build a steel bar micro-mill in Sedalia.
Now, researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have earned a $4 million grant for energy-efficient steelmaking. The grant is part of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) investment of $64 million in 18 projects from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office to support affordable hydrogen production, storage, distribution and use.
Steelmaking is among the most energy and carbon dioxide intensive processes in manufacturing. U.S. steel producers are challenged by narrow profit margins due to the cost of raw materials and associated energy costs.
The Missouri S&T project will create a steel production system that combines a hydrogen-reduction reactor for ironmaking (H2DR) with electric furnace melting for steelmaking. This combination is then integrated into a flexible electrical grid with energy storage and hydrogen generation by balancing hydrogen and natural gas usage in the H2DR process.
“While the use of hydrogen to produce iron from ore is proven, the impact of dynamically rebalanced reducing gas mixtures in the H2DR process on the steelmaking must be assessed” said Dr. Ronald O’Malley, the F. Kenneth Iverson Endowed Chair of Steelmaking Technologies and Director of the Kent D. Peaslee Steel Manufacturing Research Center at Missouri S&T. “This requires a closure of several knowledge gaps in ironmaking and EAF steelmaking.”
Missouri S&T researchers believe that de-carbonization of the steel industry can be achieved by connecting ironmaking to renewable electric power through electrolytically produced hydrogen. This effort will undoubtedly have a direct impact on steel manufacturers like Nucor.
Home to numerous world-class research institutions, innovation communities, and industry leaders in R&D, there is no shortage of innovation taking place in Missouri. Learn more about the business innovation taking place across Missouri here.