Lead Forensics

Steel industry discusses sustainability

At a conference at the end of 2021, members of the steel industry and researchers met to discuss the sustainability of steel.

Many industries rely on steel. For example, a warehouse equipment manufacturer makes picking trolleys, packing tables, shelving and other equipment from tubular steel, as it is a lightweight and strong material. Steel alternatives are either not strong enough to carry heavy loads or are too expensive,

Recent research at Cardiff University found that 92% of steelworkers believe that a transition to green steel is necessary. At the SUSTAIN conference in December 2021, industry experts gathered to discuss ways to lower carbon emissions created by steel production.

Steel furnaces used to manufacture steel require very high temperatures. They are usually powered by high-carbon-emission fossil fuels, but renewable energy sources could be used. It is estimated that 15% of UK industrial carbon emissions are produced by the steel industry.

Hydrogen is a greener energy source that could be used in steel production, but as Peter Warren of British Steel said at the conference, hydrogen is not ideal as it heats furnaces unevenly. Enrico Andreoli of Swansea University is working on ways to capture carbon emissions using CO2 electrolysis.

The UK government is supporting the British steel industry’s decarbonisation initiatives. At the climate change COP26 meeting in 2021, countries signed a commitment to a target of zero-carbon steel production by 2030. As a result, the steel industry is working with academia to come up with practical carbon reduction solutions.

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