Study to investigate steel industry decarbonisation13 February 2020

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Scientists at Leeds University and Sheffield University have secured funding to investigate ways the UK steel industry can be decarbonised within 30 years.

An interdisciplinary team has won £1.26m from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), which is funded by UK Research and Innovation, to develop approaches that blend technology and policy with the aim of eliminating the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.

CREDS director Professor Nick Eyre says: “Decarbonising the UK energy system is a major national challenge for the coming decades, nowhere more so than in major industrial processes. I am therefore delighted that colleagues from Leeds and Sheffield are joining CREDS to research steel industry decarbonisation.”

According to figures from the World Steel Association, on average for 2018, 1.85 tonnes of CO2 were emitted for every tonne of steel produced.

Professor William Gale, an energy expert at Leeds and the project’s principal investigator, adds: “The reality is the steel industry in the UK has to decarbonise, but this has to be done sensitively otherwise there is a risk the industry will relocate to where the rules on carbon are more lax.

“Our challenge is to bring about real change without eroding the wafer-thin margins on which the industry operates. Steel is an important material so we can’t just stop manufacturing it. This project will bring together a range of experts: from scientists and engineers involved in researching alternative methods of production or ways to recover it from scrap – to policy and business experts analysing the policy initiatives and incentives needed for this change.”

Gale continues: “Our research will investigate a range of emerging technologies and solutions. We will look at whether there is a way you can integrate a number of different approaches. We will delve into the costs and timescales and develop a very detailed, fully-costed ‘route map’ of technologies and policies which will enable industry to make this vital transformation without it being saddled with unrealistic costs.”

The research will also aim to help the government achieve its Clean Growth Strategy, a commitment made in 2017 to grow and develop the UK economy at the same time as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

More information on the project can be found on the CREDS website.

Adam Offord

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