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CO2-neutral steel production with hydrogen, secondary carbon carriers and electricity OR innovative steel applications for low CO2 emissions (Clean Steel Partnership)

Expected Outcome:

The establishment of a clean steel market will be based upon decarbonisation of the steel making and production through the use of advanced and breakthrough technologies. The modification and change of production routes will have an impact onto the design of customised steel products and its applications in the market.

Projects outcomes will enable achieving the objectives of the Clean Steel Partnership (CSP) by contributing to one of the following two aspects:

  1. Enhance CO2-neutral steel production with hydrogen, secondary carbon carriers and electricity;
  2. Contribute to innovative steel applications for low CO2 emissions.

Projects related to the above point 1 are expected to contribute to one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Introducing the use of secondary carbon sources, including waste and residues of biological origin[1] in steelmaking processes to target improved sustainability and to allow a technically and economically feasible transition to reduce the use of fossil carbon as fuel or reducing agent;
  • Combining the reduction of fossil carbon-related emissions obtained with technologies to reduce steelwork energy consumption with improvements in the materials and energy flows;
  • Reduction of carbon footprint by incrementally adapting to the use of low-CO2 hydrogen to heat up steel for rolling, shaping, and heat treatment, considering also a coupling between hydrogen and/or electrical heating and fuel-flexibility concepts;
  • Valorisation of non-conventional ores, e.g., in (photo)electrolysis processes;
  • Substitution of fossil sources as carburiser and slag foaming agent by alternative materials in electric arc furnaces (EAF) and contribute to achieve low-CO2 steel production;
  • Enhancing the handling of carbon-bearing residues and recovery of metal contents from low-value residues by pre-reduction or reduction smelting with hydrogen and/or electricity;
  • Identify and analyse the amount of European existing technologies that could be efficiently retrofitted to CO2 neutral solutions (e.g. H2 DRI). Differentiate between incremental retrofits and retrofits allowing for production of carbon-free iron and steel. The final evaluation should provide a comprehensive overview of technical possibilities along with possible implementation timelines, and indicate on emission reduction stages and required financial investments. Projects awarded under this point are expected to involve among the consortium a balanced representation from academia, research centres and industry and to be developed in contact with the European Commission.

OR

Projects related to the above point 2 are expected to contribute to at least two of the following outcomes, which require designing steel alloys and products and validating their application for the clean steel market (related to the CSP specific objective 6, see also Building Block 12: Innovative steel applications for low CO2 emissions in SRIA[2]):

  • New or modified alloying concepts, downstream processing and manufacturing processes for new clean steel grades, as well as derivation of new test methods that are closer to reality into the industrial application;
  • Manufacture steels with improved life cycle contributions to CO2 emissions reduction; this is the case for, but not limited to, the transport sector, which includes improved possibilities for re-use and re-manufacture; this includes also innovative manufacturing technologies for steel grades supporting decarbonisation like, but not limited to, electric strip;
  • Clean steel grades with improved in-use properties obtained by controlling the application properties (e.g., yield strength and/or high ductility steels, fatigue, embrittlement, internal and external corrosion and other properties relevant to service life in the application) supported by known or new techniques (e.g., machine learning (ML), metallurgical / thermodynamic simulations, multi-scale models, defect vs. structure vs. properties correlations, finite element methods (FEM), realistic and applied testing methods) to realise the desired steel grade characteristics;
  • Innovative simulation methods and tools (e.g., Calculation of PHAse Diagrams (CALPHAD), crystal plasticity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), realistic and application-oriented testing methods, multi-scale modelling, and microstructure, defects and properties prediction tools, digital twins etc.) to accelerate the development processes of the mentioned clean steel grades and their manufacturing processes;
  • Advanced grades of steel for use in efficient high temperature processes including, for instance, thermal reactors for waste recovery;
  • Advanced grades of steel for use in the railway's systems of high-speed trains to assure high quality, good weldability, and very high mechanical properties, including high yield strength, metal-to-metal wear resistance, and high rolling contact fatigue resistance;
  • High-performance structural steels (e.g., high-strength, high-pressure resistant, creep resistant, oxidation resistant, etc.) not containing critical strategic elements (such as, V, Nb, Ti, etc.) and/or characterized by increased tolerance to the content of contaminants in the scrap, such as for instance Cu;
  • Steel grades with increased use of low-quality input materials (e.g., scrap, secondary raw materials, ores / dust, etc.) by new knowledge of the influences on the application properties of manufactured steel products tested under realistic operating conditions, taking into account the entire manufacturing process to identify the acceptance of buyers / users (incl. economic / ecological benefits, questionnaires, market research).

Scope:

Proposals should aim at one of the following two aspects, corresponding respectively to the points 1) and 2) outlined under the expected outcomes section:

  1. Proposals should relate to metal reduction processes using hydrogen, renewable electricity, and/or secondary carbon carriers, and/or to replace fossil fuels and reductants in steelmaking and in downstream processing in steel plants. Proposals under this topic are expected to:
  • Provide concepts addressing the modifications of the existing and new installations for steel production, such as:
    • Blast furnace–basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF);
    • Electric arc furnace (EAF);
    • Direct reduced iron (DRI) process: In this case, compare the feedstock’s iron content requirements necessary for the direct reduction process in comparison with other alternative processes (e.g., electrolysis);
    • Alternative reduction processes (such as electrolysis on non-conventional ores);
    • Heating and treatment of semi-finished products.
  • Such modifications could also concern the internal and external flows of energy and materials to re-use e.g., metallurgical gases (internal re-cycling) and to upgrade them with new sources, e.g., by replacement of fossil carbon, both as reducing agent, and heat sources with hydrogen and alternative carbon sources;
  • Consider the integrated preparation (reforming, separation, heating, compression) of external carbon-lean gases or internally recycled CO/CO2 streams for efficient use as reducing agent, but not limited to or for use in heating process.

OR

  1. Proposals should address the conception and production of clean steel for use in established markets and/or in markets having specific demanding or harsh environments. Of interest are steels and steel grades capable to demonstrate for instance high level of yield strength, high level of fatigue, high resistance to pressure, heat, wear, cyclic loads, crash and to severe corrosion conditions. The scope also covers the maximisation of low-quality materials usage and their influence on the product quality. Where appropriate for the study proposed, analytical research infrastructures, such as but not limited to synchrotron and/or neutron facilities, should be considered as capable of providing large amount of statistically relevant data to validate chemistry and structure / morphology and solve challenges concerning hydrogen embrittlement and/or residual stresses. Proposals should demonstrate the CO2 reduction potential by conception along the advanced / breakthrough manufacturing routes and/or by the application of their innovative steel solution.

Research should contribute to pre-standardisation documents and technical reports to support achieving innovative industrial applications of advanced clean steel grades.

Specific budget needs to be allocated in the project for pursuing dissemination and exploitation activities with the Clean Steel Partnership (e.g. exchange of information, carbon reduction potential etc.).

This topic implements the co-programmed European Partnership on Clean Steel.

Specific Topic Conditions:

Activities are expected to start at TRL 4 and achieve TRL 5-6 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.

[1]In the CSP SRIA "biomass" means the biodegradable fraction of products, waste and residues from biological origin from agriculture, including vegetal and animal substances, from forestry and related industries, including fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the biodegradable fraction of waste, including industrial and municipal waste of biological origin as defined in the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (EU,2018).

[2]https://www.estep.eu/assets/CleanSteelMembersection/CSP-SRIA-Oct2021-clean.pdf

General Information

Call Type
EU Horizon Europe
Eligible Country/ies
EU + Horizon Europe associated countries
Call Identifier (if any)
HORIZON-CL4-2024-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-46
Expected Outcome or Impact
Expected Outcome:

The establishment of a clean steel market will be based upon decarbonisation of the steel making and production through the use of advanced and breakthrough technologies. The modification and change of production routes will have an impact onto the design of customised steel products and its applications in the market.

Projects outcomes will enable achieving the objectives of the Clean Steel Partnership (CSP) by contributing to one of the following two aspects:

1. Enhance CO2-neutral steel production with hydrogen, secondary carbon carriers and electricity;
2. Contribute to innovative steel applications for low CO2 emissions.

Projects related to the above point 1 are expected to contribute to one or more of the following outcomes:

- Introducing the use of secondary carbon sources, including waste and residues of biological origin[1] in steelmaking processes to target improved sustainability and to allow a technically and economically feasible transition to reduce the use of fossil carbon as fuel or reducing agent;
- Combining the reduction of fossil carbon-related emissions obtained with technologies to reduce steelwork energy consumption with improvements in the materials and energy flows;
- Reduction of carbon footprint by incrementally adapting to the use of low-CO2 hydrogen to heat up steel for rolling, shaping, and heat treatment, considering also a coupling between hydrogen and/or electrical heating and fuel-flexibility concepts;
- Valorisation of non-conventional ores, e.g., in (photo)electrolysis processes;
- Substitution of fossil sources as carburiser and slag foaming agent by alternative materials in electric arc furnaces (EAF) and contribute to achieve low-CO2 steel production;
- Enhancing the handling of carbon-bearing residues and recovery of metal contents from low-value residues by pre-reduction or reduction smelting with hydrogen and/or electricity;
- Identify and analyse the amount of European existing technologies that could be efficiently retrofitted to CO2 neutral solutions (e.g. H2 DRI). Differentiate between incremental retrofits and retrofits allowing for production of carbon-free iron and steel. The final evaluation should provide a comprehensive overview of technical possibilities along with possible implementation timelines, and indicate on emission reduction stages and required financial investments. Projects awarded under this point are expected to involve among the consortium a balanced representation from academia, research centres and industry and to be developed in contact with the European Commission.

OR

Projects related to the above point 2 are expected to contribute to at least two of the following outcomes, which require designing steel alloys and products and validating their application for the clean steel market (related to the CSP specific objective 6, see also Building Block 12: Innovative steel applications for low CO2 emissions in SRIA[2]):

- New or modified alloying concepts, downstream processing and manufacturing processes for new clean steel grades, as well as derivation of new test methods that are closer to reality into the industrial application;
- Manufacture steels with improved life cycle contributions to CO2 emissions reduction; this is the case for, but not limited to, the transport sector, which includes improved possibilities for re-use and re-manufacture; this includes also innovative manufacturing technologies for steel grades supporting decarbonisation like, but not limited to, electric strip;
- Clean steel grades with improved in-use properties obtained by controlling the application properties (e.g., yield strength and/or high ductility steels, fatigue, embrittlement, internal and external corrosion and other properties relevant to service life in the application) supported by known or new techniques (e.g., machine learning (ML), metallurgical / thermodynamic simulations, multi-scale models, defect vs. structure vs. properties correlations, finite element methods (FEM), realistic and applied testing methods) to realise the desired steel grade characteristics;
- Innovative simulation methods and tools (e.g., Calculation of PHAse Diagrams (CALPHAD), crystal plasticity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), realistic and application-oriented testing methods, multi-scale modelling, and microstructure, defects and properties prediction tools, digital twins etc.) to accelerate the development processes of the mentioned clean steel grades and their manufacturing processes;
- Advanced grades of steel for use in efficient high temperature processes including, for instance, thermal reactors for waste recovery;
- Advanced grades of steel for use in the railway's systems of high-speed trains to assure high quality, good weldability, and very high mechanical properties, including high yield strength, metal-to-metal wear resistance, and high rolling contact fatigue resistance;
- High-performance structural steels (e.g., high-strength, high-pressure resistant, creep resistant, oxidation resistant, etc.) not containing critical strategic elements (such as, V, Nb, Ti, etc.) and/or characterized by increased tolerance to the content of contaminants in the scrap, such as for instance Cu;
- Steel grades with increased use of low-quality input materials (e.g., scrap, secondary raw materials, ores / dust, etc.) by new knowledge of the influences on the application properties of manufactured steel products tested under realistic operating conditions, taking into account the entire manufacturing process to identify the acceptance of buyers / users (incl. economic / ecological benefits, questionnaires, market research).
Target Groups
Research Institutes, Academia, Small- and Medium Enterprises, Industry, Non-government organisations, Start-Ups
Submission Deadlines
Single fixed deadline
(Next) Submission Deadline
7 February 2024
Type of Funding Instrument
Collaborative Projects / Consortia
Max. funding amount per project [EURO]
5,000,000 €
Overall budget for all projects [EURO]
20,000,000 €

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Patric Gerö

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