The European Union has decided to finance testing of new technology for the production of iron developed by Tata Steel Group in the Netherlands, with 7.4 million euros. This amount will cover a little less than a third of the expected annual costs of the project, which is estimated at 25 million euros.
Next year the pilot plant Hlsarna will show if the invested money is paid off - if that new technology can produce molten iron in a stable form through continuous work over a long period. The testing period will last at least 6 months.
Testing will show whether this technology can be applied in real manufacturing conditions, without outage. In case the results of the experiment are positive, it will be a big step forward in the modernization of the iron industry. This process of iron production promises increased efficiency and a more efficient use of limited Earth resources. Besides, it will reduce the negative impact on the environment, as well as harmful emission of C02 by 20%.
The biggest advantage of this technology is that it will launch two highly energy-demanding preparatory steps in the process of iron production. There will be no need to enlarge the fine-grained iron ore, nor convert coal into coke, as in the case of using conventional blast furnaces. The new technology would also allow the use of recycled materials, as well as a wider range of basic raw material whose use has been unprofitable so far.
This is the 5th testing since 2010, but the first one that should prove that liquid iron can be produced in more than a few days. If the test justifies the expectations of experts, the next step would be construction of the entire industrial complex worth 300 million euros, which will ensure that the technology becomes available to the world through in cca 10 to 15 years.