MELBOURNE, Australia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rio Tinto is progressing an revolutionary new know-how to ship low-carbon metal, utilizing sustainable biomass instead of coking coal within the steelmaking course of, in a probably cost-effective choice to chop business carbon emissions.
Over the previous decade, Rio Tinto has developed a laboratory-proven course of that mixes the usage of uncooked, sustainable biomass with microwave know-how to transform iron ore to metallic iron in the course of the steelmaking course of. The patent-pending course of, one in every of a variety of avenues the corporate is pursuing to attempt to decrease emissions within the metal worth chain, is now being additional examined in a small-scale pilot plant.
If this and larger-scale exams are profitable, there’s the potential over time for this know-how to be scaled commercially to course of Rio Tinto’s iron ore fines.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Govt Simon Trott stated, “We’re inspired by early testing outcomes of this new course of, which may present a cost-efficient solution to produce low-carbon metal from our Pilbara iron ore.
“Greater than 70 per cent of Rio Tinto’s Scope 3 emissions are generated as prospects course of our iron ore into metal, which is essential for urbanisation and infrastructure growth because the world’s economies decarbonise. So, whereas it’s nonetheless early days and there’s a lot extra analysis and different work to do, we’re eager to discover additional growth of this know-how.”
Rio Tinto’s course of makes use of plant matter often known as lignocellulosic biomass, as a substitute of coal, primarily as a chemical reductant. The biomass is mixed with iron ore and heated by a mix of fuel launched by the biomass and excessive effectivity microwaves that may be powered by renewable vitality.
Rio Tinto researchers are working with the multi-disciplinary staff within the College of Nottingham’s Microwave Course of Engineering Group to additional develop the method.
The College’s Head of Division, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Professor Chris Dodds, stated, “It’s actually thrilling to have the chance to be a part of an ideal staff engaged on a know-how that, if developed to industrial scale, has the potential to have a world influence by way of decarbonising key components of the metal manufacturing course of.”
The usage of uncooked biomass in Rio Tinto’s course of may additionally keep away from the inefficiencies and related prices of different biomass-based applied sciences that first convert the biomass into charcoal or biogas.
Lignocellulosic biomass contains agriculture by-products (i.e. wheat straw, corn stover, barley straw, sugar cane bagasse) and purpose-grown crops, which might be sustainable sources for the method.
Importantly, the method can’t use meals corresponding to sugar or corn, and Rio Tinto wouldn’t use biomass sources that help logging of old-growth forests.
Simon Trott stated, “We all know there are advanced points associated to biomass sourcing and use and there’s a lot extra work to do for this to be a genuinely sustainable resolution for steelmaking. We are going to proceed working with others to know extra about these issues and the supply of sustainable biomass.”
If developed additional, the know-how can be accompanied by a strong and independently accredited certification course of for sustainable sources of biomass.