India’s Tata Steel has announced the testing of hydrogen usage in the manufacture of steel. The project could decarbonise the production of steel in the long-term. While carbon is usually injected into blast furnaces as part of the process, the company replaced 40% with hydrogen. It represents the largest quantity ever used in an injection test.

The steel giant began the trial on Sunday at their Jamshedpur base of operations. The hydrogen injection will continue for between four and five days without break.

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In a statement, Tata Steel said: “The trial, involving injection of hydrogen gas using 40% of the blast furnace’s injection systems, has the potential to reduce the coke rate by 10%, translating into around 7%-10% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per ton of crude steel produced.”

The process sees hydrogen substituted in for carbon as the reducing agent in the extraction process at 40% of the furnace’s injection systems. Hydrogen forms water instead of carbon dioxide when injected into furnace, thus reducing emissions.

Although this ultimately does not create carbon-free or even carbon-neutral steel, it is a step towards meeting Tata Steel’s 2045 carbon neutrality targets.

Decarbonising steel across the industry with hydrogen

In January, India set targets for a multitude of industries for the use of green hydrogen. It indicates the level to which the Delhi government is committed to green energy proliferation. The policy mandates also that new steel plants built must do so with the ability to run on green hydrogen.

In 2022, steel giants Thyssenkrupp and Anglo American announced they were partnering in order to research and facilitate green steelmaking. It signals a global consensus from steelmakers of the need to integrate greener practices into the manufacturing processes.

Earlier in April, Salzgitter announced that their own hydrogen-based steel SALCOS program had received over $1bn in government funding. The program, wherein Salzgitter replaces portions of its blast furnace with greener alternatives in order to base the production of steel around hydrogen and not carbon.