MHI Australia, Primetals Technologies join HILT-CRC for hydrogen-based iron making

The goal is to conduct research and advance hydrogen-based DR technologies for zero-carbon iron production in Australia.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Australia and Primetals Technologies (a member of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group) have joined Australia’s Heavy Industry Low-Carbon Transition Cooperative Research Centre (HILT CRC) as key partners.

The aim is to develop technologies to decarbonise Australia’s heavy industrial sector and its raw materials to increase its exports of low-carbon products. Over the next ten years, Primetals Technologies and MHI Australia will contribute financially and their expertise in iron and steel production. The companies will focus on the R&D of hydrogen-based direct reduction of iron ore, including Hyfor (hydrogen-based fine-ore reduction) technology currently being piloted by Primetals Technologies in Europe.

The collaboration involves the University of Adelaide, the Australian National University and several other companies and academic institutions. The centre is a not-for-profit and funded substantially by the Australian government. The funding for projects includes AU$ 175 million in cash and in-kind contributions from partners and AU$ 39 million in grants from Australia’s federal government.

Primetals Technologies brings an extensive portfolio of iron ore beneficiation, pelletising, sintering and iron ore reduction technologies. It has been involved in deploying one-third of the Midrex DRI plants which can be operated on 100% hydrogen moving from natural gas-based.

Australia has the world’s largest iron ore deposits and is the leading exporter of iron ore. Given that the iron and steel sector accounts for 7–10% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, Australia can play a key role in the decarbonisation of the industry. Australia can move producers up the value chain and turn the country into a major exporter of low-carbon, direct-reduced iron by using advanced technologies.

Earlier this year, Primetals Technologies commissioned a pilot plant for its novel Hyfor (Hydrogen-based Fine Ore Reduction) technology at Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine. Hyfor technology is built upon its experience in the Finmet process, first introduced by Primetals Technologies in Australia (BHP Port Hedland) in the late 1990s. The next step of building an industrial-scale Hyfor prototype will be decided by the end of the year.

Dr Alexander Fleischanderl, Head of Eco Technologies of Primetals Technologies, said, “The HILT-CRC, with its wide range of partners from across the energy, hydrogen, mining, and cement industries, will form a great ecosystem for innovation.”

Shigeru Nakabayashi, MD MHI Australia, said, “We look forward to contributing to HILT-CRC’s aim to decarbonise Australia’s heavy industry sector with our innovative, low-carbon solutions, including Primetals Technologies’ HYFOR technology.”

Shahkar Ali

Shahkar is the regional representative for Asia covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact him directly via email or follow him on social media.
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