Evaluation of techno-economic viability of carbon capture utilization and storage (CCU&S) with carbon credits for steel plants

The iron & steel industry is one of the largest emitters of industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) worldwide, accounting for about 6% of the total anthropogenic CO2 emissions every year. According to projections, it was estimated that world steel demand will grow by 1.1% per annum and will reach 1.87 billion tons by 2035. Including the carbon intensive Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (BF-BOF) route of production, the average CO2 emission for the steel industry is 2.1 tons of CO2 per ton of crude steel produced. Thus, the steel industry is set to produce around 3.9 billion tons of CO2 by 2035. Brazil, China, EU-27, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, and the USA account for more than 90% of the total CO2 emissions from steel industry.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of capturing CO2 from emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in power generation or industrial processes. The captured CO2 is compressed and converted into liquid form, then transported and stored underground, or used for commercial activities. Along with storage/sequestration, the utilization of captured CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and Enhanced Gas Recovery (EGR) allows recovery of resources from depleting oil and gas fields respectively. Its utilization in the chemical and fertilizer industries to produce methanol, ammonia, carbonated beverages, soda ash etc. promotes the deployment of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCU&S) across industrial sectors including substitution of crude derivatives. Although CCU&S presents great prospect, major research on its potential application has focused primarily on the power and cement sectors, while the steel industry has so far received little attention.

The steel sector is actively pursuing the development and adoption of carbon-lean technologies, among which CCU&S plays a key role. Since the sources of direct CO2 emissions in the iron and steel sector are very site-specific and dependent on the iron making process, CCU&S in the steel industry faces a greater challenge with respect to choose of technology, process efficiency, total cost incurred and scale up for industrial applications. However, enabling commercial deployment of CCU&S at scale will require incentives through appropriate “technology push” policy frameworks so as to support investments in CCU&S across a spectrum of static industrial emitters, including the steel industry. Investments and implementations in CCU&S will only happen with appropriate, robust and sustained government policies. In this research, we have evaluated and compared the techno-economic feasibility of a 45Q like policy enabled CCU&S for various steel making routes employing coal gasification, direct reduction, and electric arc furnace operations for sustainable and economically viable steel production.