The steel industry is facing fierce global competition. For many years, the industry has faced pressure to compete, adjust and modernize. Added to this are increased requirements for CO2 reduction in steel production. This means that we not only want to modernize our facilities but also make our contribution to climate protection and invest in green steel production.
So far thyssenkrupp's CO2 emissions amount to 23 million tons. Most of this is produced in the steel business. To reduce these emissions, thyssenkrupp has set itself clear and binding climate targets: The company aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030. To achieve climate-neutral steel production, a fundamental technological change is required. To achieve this, thyssenkrupp Steel is pursuing the goal of avoiding the generation of CO2 from the outset (Carbon Direct Avoidance, CDA). The CO2 still produced is to be used and converted into valuable products. (Carbon Capture and Usage, CCU).
Normally carbon is used as a reducing agent in blast furnaces to melt the iron-bearing charge to molten pig iron. In the future, thyssenkrupp Steel will inject hydrogen into the blast furnace instead of carbon. This is the first step toward avoiding CO2 emissions. Because where CO2 is currently produced, hydrogen will only produce climate-friendly water vapor. In addition to this, i.e. to avoid CO2 in steel production, we use the Carbon2Chem project and convert CO2 already produced into valuable products. Specifically, the steelmaking gases produced during steel production, which contain large amounts of CO2, among other things, are converted into valuable chemical raw materials. These can then be used to manufacture many useful products such as fuel, fertilizer or plastics.
In order to achieve the transformation to green steel production, investment aid, market introduction measures for green steel products and an intelligent regulatory environment are needed in addition to entrepreneurial commitment. This is the only way to create sustainable structures for climate-neutral production in the steel industry and thus contribute to a green and climate-friendly economy in the long term.
The future – electrical steel
In 2015 thyssenkrupp developed an electrical steel that is particularly well suited to the requirements of electric vehicles: core losses have already been reduced to almost 30 percent below the levels of conventional grades, while the steel’s enormous strength allows high-speed motors to be installed in very small spaces. That’s a game changer for customers too: Numerous OEMs are currently testing the new product in their prototypes.
But what makes electrical steel so valuable for the future of the electric car?
The answer can be found deep inside the motor of an electric vehicle. The electrical steel used in the stators and rotors has a crucial influence on the efficiency of the motor: The better it minimizes core losses, the greater the efficiency of the motor – and thus the range of the vehicle. While the motors in industrial machinery operate at speeds of only 5,000 to 8,000 revolutions per minute, many of today’s powerful electric motors reach speeds four times as high. The heat this creates drastically increases the potential core losses. In addition, due to the higher speeds the electrical steel has to withstand higher mechanical loads. No wonder, then, that researchers the world over are working on improved electrical steels.
The experts at thyssenkrupp are already researching new, even more efficient generations of electrical steel.
Marco Tietz is among those who spend their days working on electric motors that consume less power, are lighter, longer-lasting and more affordable, so as to extend the operating range of electric vehicles. At E-Mobility Center Drives in Bochum he has ideal conditions for his work. “To make this material you have to meet the highest standards. This is where thyssenkrupp has a distinct advantage: Our metallurgy is so good that we’re able to develop and test new approaches quickly and easily.” So the continued development of this key player in the evolution of the electric car is in good hands at thyssenkrupp.
Steel is everywhere
Our world relies on steel. From the construction and automotive business to tattoo needles or the grill at home, without the famous alloy of iron and carbon, our everyday life would be inconceivable. This is also reflected in the figures. In 2016, for example, steel manufacturers produced an incredible 1.6 billion tons of the material worldwide, with a rising trend.
In Europe alone, the steel industry produces 2,500 different steel grades to meet the variety of applications. After all, the steel for a solid bridge girder has to meet completely different requirements from the ultra-thin sheet for a can of peanuts. And there are always new variants – up to 30 per year. One innovative example is e-mobility as the megatrend demands new ideas in order to further increase the range of electrically powered vehicles.
We love steel – 65 years in the steel business
The former August Thyssen steel mill celebrated an important milestone in the reconstruction process 65 years ago: the founding of the wide hot strip mill, now hot strip mill 1 in Bruckhausen. Around 2,000 employees and 750 guests from government and industry, headed by Dr. Konrad Adenauer and including Fritz Thyssen's widow, Amélie Thyssen, were invited to the official inauguration in northern Duisburg in July 11 1955.
Hot strip mills are core units in the manufacture of flat steel
thyssenkrupp Steel Europe operates four hot strip mills in Duisburg and Bochum which produce almost twelve million tons per year. Hot strip mill 1 in Bruckhausen, which underwent extensive modernization in 2013, has a total capacity of around three million tons per year. Approx. 600 people currently work there.
Hot-rolled strip is the basis of all the flat steel products made by thyssenkrupp Steel Europe. During production, steel slabs heated to more than 1,000 degrees Celsius are rolled into thin strip in several consecutive rolling stands. This material is used either directly by customers or processed at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe’s locations. Hot strip mill 1 mainly produces starting material for the packaging specialist thyssenkrupp Rasselstein in Andernach, which uses it to manufacture blackplate for sophisticated packaging solutions such as food and beverage cans or aerosol containers. Among other things the mill also produces starting material for electrical steel, which is used for example in electric motors and high-efficiency transformers, as well as sheet and particularly thin and flat special grades.