EU decarbonization objectives are primarily centered around climate neutrality by 2050 by establishing an economy with zero greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this, there’s an urgent need of minimizing the emissions of hard-to-abate industries such as the steel industry which accounts for 9% of global GHG emissions and 4% of the GHG emissions in Europe.
The H2 steel project can be identified as one of many attempts to minimize emissions, close the carbon loop and attain industrial symbiosis by establishing a consolidated system of utilizing bio-char-based catalysts derived from biowaste streams in producing green hydrogen and carbon-sequestered steel.
Environmental assessment of the H2 steel project is a procedure that will essentially provide a comparative numerical understanding of the potential of the proposed system against the already established system of green hydrogen and steel production. In understanding such, necessary recommendations can be provided to relevant stakeholders in assisting them in choosing between the best goal and policy, process, abatement and location alternatives available. The H2 steel project will be assessed for its environmental and economic potential using the analytical tools Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmentally Extended Input Output Analysis (EEIO).
LCA is a technique that will assist in evaluating the H2 steel production system based on its goal and scope definition, life cycle inventory, life cycle impact assessment and interpretation. As per the textbook definition of LCA, the fundamental analysis will include the entirety of the process where the material and energy balances of producing 1kg of hydrogen associated with slow pyrolysis, chemical leaching, and biomethane catalytic cracking will be considered. The ex-ante perspective of the assessment will address the ‘what if’ questions associated with technological advancements, improvement of material efficiency or a case of renewable energy integration to the system etc. All in all, identifying emission hotspots under several impact categories will assist the project partners in suggesting necessary and timely changes to the upstream and downstream processes of H2 steel production, ultimately contributing to placing H2 steel in the context of the EU Fit For 55 package.
EEIO will calculate the upstream environmental impacts associated with a downstream consumption activity by providing an understanding of GHG emissions from a consumption perspective. Through EEIO, an understanding of the multicriteria environmental responsibility of the H2 steel industry at a macroeconomic scale can be obtained. EEIO will also facilitate identifying major environmental contributors and indicators that can be utilized in informed policy decision-making. EEIO also allows space for large-scale analyses, whereas the application of LCA at a national scale requires an enormous amount of data and time.
It is important to be aware that the idea of H2 steel and the extent of efficiency of the project can only be put into perspective through an environmental assessment. The numbers will ease policy decision-making and unravel the marginal benefit of implementing the newly proposed H2 steel system. In fact, the environmental assessment will assist the implementation of environmental protection tools by incorporating the ideas of academics, industry experts, authorities and the general public.
Other potential topics to explore
1. Why a biochar based catalyst from biowaste streams will make better sense than a renewable energy integration?
2. Why is it considered green hydrogen (and not turquoise) when there’s solid carbon sequestration in steel?
3. What makes biochar a better catalyst in terms of critical raw material composition?
4. How applicable is the pilot scale project on an industrial scale?
5. Bio coal in steel: prospects and technologies