Steel production via blast furnaces is an inherently carbon-intensive process based on the use of metallurgical coke. A closed loop carbon recycling system devised by researchers from the University of Birmingham (U.K.) and University of Science & Technology Beijing (China) offers potential to replace 90% of the coke typically used in these facilities and produce oxygen as a byproduct.

Easily retrofitted to existing iron and steel furnaces, the solution could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissionsSource: ScanrailSource: Scanrail from the steelmaking industry by nearly 90%. According to the researchers, cost savings of £1.28 billion ($1.5 billion U.S.) could be realized in 5 years and overall national emissions reduced by 2.9% if adopted in all U.K. steel furnaces.

The decarbonization system captures the CO2 from the top gas and reduces it to carbon monoxide (CO) using a crystalline perovskite. This material absorbs the remaining oxygen as the CO is split off and fed back into the blast furnace. The absorbed oxygen can be released from the perovskite and used in the basic oxygen furnace to produce steel, regenerating this material in the process.

The research is published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

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