Sweden’s steel makers are finding ways to reduce emissions thanks to testing of “green” fuels in Linde’s cutting-edge combustion lab near Stockholm.
among the many non-descript buildings of a sprawling industrial park in Älvsjö,
just south of Stockholm, lies a large warehouse-looking structure that’s having
a huge impact on global emissions.
building in question is the Linde Combustion Technology Center. And inside sits
a special combustion furnace where Linde customers, primarily from the Swedish
steel industry, are invited to learn how different heating processes affect
we have here is a quite a unique cooperation with the steel makers in Sweden,”
explains David Muren, Linde’s Director of R&D Metals and Combustion EMEA.
referred to as the “combustion lab”, Linde’s state-of-the-art facility draws on
decades of history and experience and has long been part of advancing
lab itself originated in the 1980s on the island of Lidingö, a suburb on the
other side of the Swedish capital and long-time headquarters of AGA, which
Linde acquired in 2000.
that time, we were focused on burner development,” explains Muren, who has been
with AGA and then Linde for nearly three decades.
the lab’s early days, Muren and his colleagues primarily ran tests to develop
more efficient burners that lowered fuel consumption and emissions. Linde’s REBOX
flameless oxyfuel burners, for example, were tested and developed at the
combustion lab. By combusting pure oxygen rather than air, the technology
reduces CO2 emissions and cuts fuel use by up to 50 percent.
2012 the lab moved from Lidingö to Älvsjö and shifted from burner development
to serving as a combustion demonstration site that catered to customers from
the Swedish steel industry.
we use the facility to demonstrate what happens when our technologies and fuels
are used in our customers’ heating process,” says Muren.
A focus on hydrogen
centrepiece of the Combustion Technology Center is a large furnace roughly the
size of a single-car garage. The inside is equipped with a several burners
which heat the furnace to temperatures as high as 1,400C.
really unique part is that we charge material our customer’s steel materials,
different grades that they would choose into this furnace, and we compare
running it with a normal fuel like propane or natural gas, and then also with
hydrogen,” he explains.
steelmakers have had an increased focus on hydrogen as the industry has ramped
up efforts to reduce emissions and make production more sustainable.
gases such as CO2 are a major concern right now,” explains Per Sellerholm, Head
of Metallurgy Applications, Linde Region Europe North.
Taking carbon out of the
the last decade, steelmakers in Sweden have generated an average of 5,900
thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents – roughly one third of Sweden’s overall CO2
emissions, according to figures from the country’s Environmental
want to work together with our customers and help them find new applications
that can reduce greenhouse gases emissions at the customers’ sites,” he adds.
hydrogen fuel being tested in Älvsjö is generated by separating water into
hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. And when hydrogen combusts, it reacts
with the air with steam as the only by-product.
Sweden, most electricity is produced through renewable processes such as
hydropower, resulting in CO2-free electricity. Thus, shifting to “green”
hydrogen has the potential to eliminate use of fossil fuels as well as
emissions generated by the combustion process.
combustion can benefit the planet and sustainability by completely taking
carbon out of the equation,” Muren explains
the electricity is CO2-free, we have a completely CO2-free fuel.”
implementing changes to complex processes at a steel plant that could bring
huge sustainability benefits is no simple undertaking. So even if the
sustainability benefits of a new technology may be substantial, steelmakers
need to be sure those benefits won’t result in reduced productivity or product
‘An important hurdle to cross’
why Linde’s combustion lab is so vital to helping steelmakers move forward with
implementing sustainable solutions.
importance of this place is that we can test ideas we have – both customer
ideas and our own ideas – before we go out to big, full-scale production,” says
can evaluate the process, improve the process, and ultimately show that it
works before taking the next step.”
so far, the test results from Älvsjö have been encouraging.
been very little change compared to what they do today, which is kind of what
we were hoping for,” Muren says of the combustion lab’s recent tests comparing
hydrogen to traditional fossil fuels.
an important hurdle to cross.”
is quick to add, however, that Linde customers from Sweden’s tight-knit steel
industry deserve a lot of credit for making the lab’s operations a success.
comparatively, the Swedish steel industry is smaller, there is a tradition of
working closely together.” he explains.
have been very willing to provide their time and input and feedback to our
it appears carbon-free combustion may not be as far off as many expected, with
Muren forecasting installations at customer sites taking place within the next
after nearly three decades working with an industry that has long struggled to
lower emissions, the significance of possibly going “down to zero” isn’t lost
me personally, this is a great journey to be in,” he says.
talking about a completely CO2-free cycle. And that opens up huge possibilities
for a hydrogen future in industrial heating applications and beyond.”