Hybrid Hydrogen Direct and Plasma Reduction of Iron Ore

September 21st, 2023

R&D Focus Areas:
Techno-economic evaluation

Lead Organisation:
Australian National University (ANU)


Start date:
June 2023

Key contacts:
Lead Investigator: Dr Alireza Rahbari (ANU): alireza.rahbari@anu.edu.au

Heavy Industry Low-Carbon Transition CRC

Project total cost:
AUD$539,483 (cash and in-kind contributions)

Project summary description:
For decarbonised steel production, the hydrogen direct reduction (HDR) pathway is most technologically mature, whether coupled with an electric arc furnace (EAF) or potentially with a melter and basic oxygen furnace (BOF). Some concerns about these pathways when applied to Pilbara ores in particular are the high cost of hydrogen relative to conventional fuels, the likelihood of increased hydrogen use associated with carrying through the gangue and needing additional flux to remove it, and the need for increased temperatures in the final wüstite to iron reduction step, to effect reduction of low-purity ores.

Hydrogen plasma reduction (HPR) offers the potential overcome these barriers through the use of highly active hydrogen plasma that penetrates into the impermeable wüstite layer—offering the potential for a more efficient and effective use of hydrogen, at the cost of some added (and relatively cheap, vs hydrogen) electricity. HPR causes melting of the product, which may eliminate the need for a separate downstream melter and its associated energy demand.

The overall goal of this project is to establish whether hybridised HDR-HPR offers a technological and economical feasible pathway to large-scale green steel production. More specifically to:

  • Conduct limited initial bench-scale tests to establish experimental proof of concept. for combined HDR-HPR iron production, via in-sequence HDR and HPR tests with selected ore samples.
  • Assess the technoeconomics of this concept and clarify that the use of HPR finishing can contribute to an overall lower steel cost, and
  • Investigate the scale-up challenges for this technology and conceptualise a workable large-scale design.

Related publications and key links:
Hybrid Hydrogen Direct and Plasma Reduction of Iron Ore| Projects | HILT CRC
Report in progress

Higher degree studies supported:
An ANU student aims to develop a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of iron ore reduction in a hydrogen plasma environment.


September 2023