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MEI Online: Pyrometallurgy: Latest News: June 17th 2013

 
 

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:: New 'Green' Steel-making Process could be Modified for Non-ferrous Metal Production

 

MIT have recently developed a new process for steel making which produces no emission other than pure oxygen with the added benefits of improved purity and cheaper to produce. This is a significant development for an industry which produces 5% of the world’s total greenhouse gases every year.

Currently steel is produced from iron ore which is heated with carbon producing two tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of steel (currently 1.5 billion tons of Carbon Dioxide a year).

The developments have been published by Nature by authors Antoine Allanore, Lan Yin and Donald R. Sadoway. The process is called molten oxide electrolysis originally arose when Sadoway received a grant from NASA to turn lunar rock into oxygen. The process developed to achieve this resulted in steel being produced as a by-product.

Originally an iridium anode was used, this is extremely expensive and an alternative was required to be developed over the last few years to make this commercially viable. An alternative alloy has been developed of chromium and iron which is both abundant and cheap.

The new process could also enable smaller steel production facilities to become viable ending the need for such economy of scale which is currently the case to make the industry viable. The process could be modified for alternative metals including nickel, titanium and ferromanganese.

A significant effect for the Steel making industry but how will this effect global warming? How will this change the distribution of steel production, could we see new entrants to this marking or possible even a return to production in western countries?

 

   

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