Prevention of sticking in H2 fluidised bed DRI production

September 21st, 2023

R&D Focus Areas:
Industrial heat processes

Lead Organisation:
University of Newcastle


Start date:
June 2023

Completion date:
September 2026

Key contacts:
Lead Investigator: Dr Tom Honeyands (University of Newcastle):

Heavy Industry Low-Carbon Transition CRC

Total project cost:
AUD$2,762,162 (cash and in-kind contributions)

Project summary description:
Production of direct reduced iron (DRI) from iron ore using green hydrogen is seen as one of the key pathways to de-carbonisation of the steel industry. However, Australian iron ores have rarely been successfully used in DRI processes, with ores currently utilised in conventional blast furnace ironmaking.

This project aims to assess the suitability of Australian iron ore fines for production of hydrogen DRI using a range of fluidised bed processes differing in terms of reaction temperature, fluidising agent and fluidisation regime. A key risk in hydrogen fluidised bed DRI production is sticking or defluidisation; however, it is advantageous to operate at the highest possible temperature to enhance the kinetics of reduction.

The role and mechanisms behind the use of anti-sticking additives such as MgO and alternatives will be investigated in terms of testing their prevention performance in fluid beds, and surface characterization of interface between additives and ore fines. The maximum operating temperature that can be sustained will be evaluated in laboratory scale fluidised bed reactors and a generalised kinetic model developed for reduction of Australian iron ores. The use of alternative cheaper additives will be investigated after fully understanding the mechanism of MgO additives on anti-sticking during fluidisation.

Finally, the impact of anti-sticking additives on post reduction materials handling will be investigated using a laboratory uniaxial compression test operating at temperature, with the aim of providing design data for downstream processes (briquetting or melting).

The benefits from this project are de-risking of the hydrogen fluidised bed reduction of Australian iron ore fines through identification of the optimum anti-sticking agent, timing of application, and maximum resulting operating temperature of the process. A generalised kinetic model will be developed to assist with design of fluidised bed processes, and design data for materials handling systems will be measured for DRI with / without anti-sticking agents.

Related publications and key links:
To be advised.

Higher degree studies supported:
As a three-year project, there is very strong potential to bring in students on aligned topics, and to have them involved in the progress of the project. Some anticipated topics for PhD student projects include:

  1. New generalised kinetic models of low-temperature fluidised bed hydrogen direct reduction of iron ores
  2. Fluidised bed reactor design
  3. Computational fluid dynamics model of fluidised bed reduction
  4. Optimisation of fluidised bed DRI systems for variable-rate operation


September 2023