Memorandum from Corus
CURRENT STATE OF R&D IN CORUS
1. Through a series of incremental steps,
Corus has made important reductions in energy consumption per
tonne of steel, which is closely related to CO2 emissions.
However, our calculations show that Corus blast furnaces operate
close to the theoretical minimum for coke use. Without a radical
new technology, further reductions in energy consumption and CO2
emissions will continue to be small and incremental.
2. Therefore, Corus, along with a number
of industry and research partners is participating in a R&D
project to investigate new steel production processes that would
radically reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions
compared to current production methods. The project has an arbitrary
and self-selected target of 50% reduction in atmospheric emissions
of CO2 from the iron ore route.
3. The project, which is in its first phase,
is investigating a number of options, of which Carbon Capture
and Storage is one.
4. Corus is an international metals group
that manufactures, processes and distributes steel and aluminium
products and provides related services in design, technology and
5. Corus has manufacturing operations in
many countries with major plants located in the UK, the Netherlands,
Germany, France, Norway and Belgium, as well as sales offices
and service centres all over the world. Corus serves the construction,
automotive, packaging, mechanical engineering, metal goods and
electrical engineering sectors.
6. Corus is organised into four divisions
(Strip Products, Long Products, Distribution and Building Systems
and Aluminium) and employs 48,300 people. Turnover in 2004 was
£9,332 million (approximately
14,000 million) and group operating profit was £582
7. Europe, principally the EU, is the most
important market for Corus for both its steel and aluminium products,
accounting for 81% of total turnover in 2004. The Group's
steel divisions accounted for 89% of total turnover in the same
8. The Group produces carbon steel by the
blast furnace and basic oxygen steelmaking method at three integrated
steelworks in the UK at Port Talbot, Scunthorpe and Teesside,
and at one in the Netherlands at IJmuiden. Engineering steels
are produced using the electric arc furnace method at Rotherham.
Corus produced 19.5 mt of liquid steel in 2004.
9. Corus produces primary aluminium in two
smelters at Delfzijl in the Netherlands and Voerde in Germany.
In 2004 these smelters produced 205 kt of aluminium from alumina
(processed bauxite) using an electrolysis process.
10. The Corus Environmental Policy states:
"We are committed to minimising the environmental
impact of our operations and our products through the adoption
of sustainable practices and continuous improvement in environmental
11. There are eight contributing policy
to improve the environmental performance
of our processes and products through research and development
of new technologies, preventing and reducing emissions and releases,
minimising waste and controlling noise.
to contribute to sustainable development
by using energy, water and raw materials more efficiently, thus
optimising our use of natural resources.
Monitoring and Reporting
Suppliers and Contractors
Local Communities and Biodiversity
12. The R&D work currently undertaken
by Corus on carbon abatement technologies is part of the efforts
of the Group to progress the Continuous Improvement and Sustainable
Development policy principles shown above.
13. Although production of aluminium from
its ore is an energy, and carbon, intensive process the much greater
quantity means that steel production accounts for by far the larger
proportion of carbon consumed and CO2 discharged by
Corus. Thus the focus of research currently undertaken by Corus
on carbon abatement technologies is on steel production.
14. Over many years the energy consumption
per tonne of steel has decreased, sometimes as the result of the
introduction of new technologies, such as continuous casting,
but also as the result of continuous improvements in process performance.
These improvements have been achieved by ongoing process research,
investments and improvements in process performance. The improvements
made by Corus in recent years are shown in Figure 1 which is a
combination of blast furnace and electric arc furnace data.
15. The figure shows a significant and important
reduction in energy consumption, which is closely related to CO2
emissions, during a period where no radically new processes were
introduced. These improvements were the result of many incremental
steps. For comparison the average energy consumption in 2003 reported
by the International Iron and Steel Institute was 19 GJ/tonne
(IISI Report The Measure of Our Sustainability). In the short
to medium term it is expected that further improvements will be
made in an incremental fashion and Corus has the following target
for energy consumption:
16. "Reduce total energy consumption
in the UK by 11.5% compared to 1997, by 2010 and become one of
the world's top steelmakers and primary aluminium producers (in
the comparable technology class) in terms of energy use in the
Netherlands by 2012"
17. The largest source of CO2
emitted by the steel industry is derived from coal, mainly in
the form of metallurgical coke, which is used as the reductant
in the chemical reactions which transform iron ore to metallic
iron in the blast furnace. There is a theoretical minimum requirement
for coke in the blast furnace and our calculations show that Corus
furnaces operate close to that minimum.
18. It has been estimated that the steel
industry, worldwide, accounts for approximately 5% of the total
anthropogenic CO2 emissions to atmosphere. (J P Birat
"The Challenge of Global Warming to the Steel Industry,
A European Viewpoint" POSCO Conference, Pohang Korea
Sept 2002). Although low in comparison to the emissions from transport,
housing and commercial buildings, the individual steel industry
sources are large. The industry, particularly in the EU, recognises
the need for further, substantial cuts in atmospheric CO2
emissions but figure 1 suggests that further incremental reductions
in energy consumption will be increasingly difficult to achieve.
To respond to this challenge Corus, together with other EU steelmakers,
industrial and academic partners have entered into a major research
project, financially supported by the EU via the Framework 6 and
Research Fund for Coal and Steel programmes, with the aim of achieving
a radical cut in CO2 emissions to atmosphere. That
project is called ULCOS (Ultra Low CO2 Steelmaking).
19. ULCOS is a
44 million (£29 million), part EC funded, multi-partner
research & development initiative to investigate new steel
production processes that would drastically reduce CO2
and other greenhouse gas emissions compared to current production
20. The ULCOS consortium comprises 48 European
companies and organisations led by a core group of steel producers
including Corus. The consortium is further composed of suppliers
to the steel industry, research institutes, small/medium sized
businesses and universities.
21. The maximisation of the usage of steel
scrap is a clear way to reduce the energy requirements in steelmaking
and this is an essential recycling objective being pursued by
the steel industry. However, it is recognised that production
of metallic iron from its ores will continue to be the dominant
production route for the foreseeable future and so the ULCOS project
is aimed at a radical cut in CO2 emissions from steelmaking
based on iron ore reduction. Steel production based solely on
the melting of scrap is, therefore, excluded from the ULCOS scope.
22. A self-selected and somewhat arbitrary
target of 50% reduction in atmospheric CO2 emissions
from the iron ore reduction route has been adopted. It is recognised
that this target cannot be reached by a continuation of the incremental
improvement approach and so it forces a radical re-examination
of iron and steel making process options.
23. ULCOS is envisaged as a phased initiative
with the current project aimed at process research and evaluation
leading to a selection and specification of one, or at most two,
breakthrough technologies which will meet the ULCOS target. This
first phase began in September 2004 and will last five years.
24. It will be followed by a second pilot
phase, also expected to last five years and then, depending on
the outcome of the development work and technical/economic/environmental
viability, commercial implementation.
25. ULCOS is split into nine sub-projects
each of which is briefly described below:
25.1 The New Blast Furnace
This is a radical re-examination of the process
which currently dominates ironmaking. Replacement of hot air by
pure oxygen and recycling of the top gas into the furnace is the
most promising line of research. A key step in that process will
be the capture and storage of CO2 from the furnace
top gas. The New Blast Furnace will remain a coke-based process
which will produce liquid iron suitable for conversion to steel
in the current way.
25.2. Smelting Reduction Processes
These are alternative, coal based, processes
which will produce liquid iron. Their main scope for reduction
in CO2 emissions lies in process simplification with
energy intensive processes such as coke making eliminated from
the process chain. It is likely that CO2 capture and
storage will be a necessary part of a smelting reduction process
if it is to meet the ULCOS target.
25.3. Natural Gas Based Processes
There are existing, mature technologies which
reduce iron ores, in the solid state, by gases derived from natural
gas. Only one such plant is in operation in Europe, owned by Mittal
Steel in Hamburg. The economic operation of such plants depends
critically on the relative prices of natural gas and steel scrap
both of which are volatile. Natural gas based processes have the
potential to reduce CO2 emissions because of the lower
C:H ratio in natural gas compared to coal. ULCOS will examine
a wide range of operating scenarios for such processes including
close coupling with blast furnaces and the capture and storage
25.4. Hydrogen Based Processes
There appear to be no technical obstacles which
prevent the use of pure hydrogen as the reductant in processes
similar to those based on natural gas. Research is being carried
out in ULCOS to confirm that and also to investigate processes
for the production of the very large quantities of hydrogen that
would be necessary for a bulk steel industry. Such hydrogen production
processes would be very similar to those under investigation in
the oil and power industries and will need CO2 capture
and storage in order to meet ULCOS targets.
25.5. Electrolysis of Iron Ores
Iron ores can be reduced either by carbon (existing
processes), hydrogen or by electrolytic means. A number of possible
electrolytic processes are under investigation in ULCOS. This
is the most radical and therefore risky research in ULCOS with
a large number of severe technological challenges.
Assuming that these challenges can be overcome
these processes rely on carbon lean electricity, such as nuclear
or hydro power. It is unlikely that this will be available throughout
Europe although France and Scandinavia do have such energy sources.
25.6. CO2 Capture and Storage
As has already been described CO2
capture and storage is likely to be a necessary feature of any
successful ULCOS process development. ULCOS contains a sub-project
devoted to the investigation of the optimisation of CO2
C&S technologies in the context of existing and new iron and
steelmaking processes. A description of the research in this sub-project
is given below.
25.7. The Use of Biomass in Iron and Steelmaking
The use of biomass is an attractive option for
reducing CO2 emissions but the challenges are great.
Biomass has low energy density and so processes such as charcoal
making or bio-oil production will be necessary. Biomass will either
need to be grown specifically for the steel industry, thus competing
for land use with agriculture and housing, or it arises over a
wide area (eg wheat straw) and will need transport.
25.8. The Use of Electrical Energy together
with Carbon in Ironmaking
This sub-project investigates the extent to
which electricity can be used as an energy source in the blast
furnace or smelting reduction processes. This differs from the
Electrolysis sub-project in that some carbon would still be required
within the processes. Techniques such as the use of plasma heating
will be researched.
As with electrolysis-based processes this option
can only be viable if large scale, carbon lean, electrical energy
26.9. Scenarios and Sustainability
All of the process options investigated in the
ULCOS project will be evaluated according to the so-called "triple
bottom line" ie:
The economyespecially cost
projection in the post-Kyoto context.
The whole spectrum of environmental
impact as described by combinations of Life Cycle Inventory (LCI),
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) methods, and society factorsusing
methods such as key performance indicators.
Relevant stakeholders will be identified and
involved in sharing the analysis.
26. As already stated CO2 Capture
and Storage (CCS) will be a necessary feature of some ULCOS process
options, eg The New Blast Furnace and Hydrogen Based Processes
and is likely to be required in others, eg Smelting Reduction
and Natural Gas Based Processes. ULCOS will also investigate the
technical and economic possibilities of meeting the target of
a 50% cut in CO2 emissions to atmosphere by using CCS
as a retro-fit to existing iron and steel plant.
27. ULCOS will examine CCS technologies
in the light of the specific conditions of the steel industry,
where fumes are dirtier, larger volume and of different composition
than in power plant applications. It investigates the practical
possibilities for storing CO2 or, to a small extent,
for supplying it to the oil industry for EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery),
with particular regard to their cost.
28. This subproject does not have the ambition
to compete with a number of much larger-scale endeavours aimed
at exploring various capture and storage solutions and launched
by other sectors of the economy, such as the oil and gas suppliers
or the electricity producers, eg GESTCO, CO2Store,
NASCENT, WEYBURN, CO2NET2, CASTOR, CO2GEONET,
CONFITnet, METSTORE. In fact, ULCOS is related to most of the
other European Projects in that area through the partners, which
are active in this sub-project, especially Statoil, GEUS and BRGM.
29. In ULCOS the Steel Industry aims to
understand how to integrate these developments into its own processes,
focusing on the interface between CCS technologies and iron and
steel producing processes. The major point is to optimise the
gas quality flowing from the iron or steelmaking process to the
CCS facilities, and to optimise the process of capture itself,
in order to minimise overall cost.
30. The starting point of the ULCOS work
on CCS is a specification of the gas streams from which CO2
can be captured. This is already known for existing iron and steel
plant and best estimates based on flowsheet calculations have
been made for the new "ULCOS" processes. Specification
of the purity and pressure of the captured CO2 has
been made by reference to the requirements for pipeline and ship
transport, and for EOR or geological storage in saline aquifers.
These input and output specifications are being used to select
and optimise the most appropriate CO2 Capture technologies
for the process options.
31. Two classes of CO2 Capture
technologies are being investigated in ULCOS, "Existing"
and "Emerging" processes.
32. The existing processes under investigation
Absorption: Amine and similar solvent
Adsorption: Pressure Swing Adsorption
Membrane: Membrane separators and
For each of these processes the description
of an industrial unit, at least 100,000 m3/h will be made, in
terms of flowsheet calculations, technical performance and layout,
so that investment and operating costs can be evaluated.
33. Two "Emerging" or innovative
CO2 Capture technologies are being investigated within
ULCOS. These are:
Cyclic carbonation and calcination
of natural limestones.
Capture of CO2 using Hydrates.
Both use a cyclic capture and regeneration method
in which a relatively pure CO2 stream will be produced
from a process gas stream.
As with the existing processes a description
of an industrial scale unit, with costs will be produced but because
of the innovative nature of these processes a greater degree of
uncertainty is expected.
34. The output from all of the CO2
Capture processes under investigation in ULCOS will be a stream
of CO2 with sufficient purity and pressure to allow
transport and geological storage. No research will be done in
ULCOS on transport or geological storage as this work is being
done in other large research projects. However, a detailed study
of the geological feasibility and logistics of CO2
Transport and Storage from large, integrated iron and steel works
operated by ULCOS partners will be carried out.
35. Mapping of potential CO2
storage sites has already been done in the GESTCO project which
has identified sites in the North Sea which may be useable as
storage for the Corus sites of Scunthorpe, Teesside and IJmuiden.
36. Research into a novel CO2
storage process is also being carried out in ULCOS. This is the
permanent storage of CO2 by carbonation of natural
minerals such as olivines, or industrial by-product streams such
as steelmaking slags. Although carbonation of steelmaking slags
cannot achieve the full 50% reduction in emissions aimed for in
ULCOS, because of the mismatch in quantities of CO2
and slag, there is the potential for a useful contribution to
37. Each of the technically viable process
options for CCS investigated in ULCOS will be subjected to the
Sustainability (Triple Bottom Line) evaluation before adoption
as part of the ULCOS process specification.
38. As already stated ULCOS is envisaged
as a phased research, development and implementation programme.
The first, research phase, began in September 2004 and will last
for five years. Its target is to specify one, or at most two,
breakthrough process routes that will meet the ULCOS target.
39. The second, pilot phase is also envisaged
as a five-year project, between 2010 and 2015.
40. If that phase is successful, as measured
by the "Triple Bottom Line" criteria a steady commercial
implementation of the "ULCOS" technology is foreseen,
over perhaps another 10 to 15 years.
41. This, therefore, represents a long-term
technological roadmap for CO2 mitigation for the European
42. Opportunities for more rapid deployment
of aspects of the ULCOS technologies, for example CO2
Capture and Storage, are likely to arise during this period and
these will be actively sought and pursued. As an example, a study
of the feasibility of the retrofit of CCS technology to existing
European iron and steel plant is an early objective of ULCOS.
Such opportunities will be site specific and will be evaluated
using the economic, environmental and societal Sustainability
43. Opportunities may also arise for the
implementation of ULCOS technologies, both iron making and CCS,
within the rapidly developing economies of China, India and Brazil.
44. The European steel industry has recognised
the need for a very significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions,
in particular CO2. It also recognises that such
a cut cannot be achieved, at current output levels, without a
technological breakthrough. Therefore the industry, with financial
support from the European Commission, is actively engaged in a
major research project aimed at a radical cut in atmospheric emissions
45. A wide range of iron making process
options are under investigation as are carbon capture and storage
(CCS) technologies. All of those process options will be evaluated
according to the "Triple Bottom Line" criteria of Economy,
Environment and Society. A successful process outcome must not
disadvantage the European steel industry, in an economic sense,
with respect to our competition outside Europe otherwise a shift
of production to other regions, with possibly less efficient plant,
may occur with no benefit in reduced CO2 emissions.
46. The ULCOS research project represents
a long-term technological roadmap for CO2 mitigation
within the European steel industry and it will run alongside the
important and ongoing pursuit of incremental improvements in energy
efficiency within the industry.
Information in this document that is specific
to Corus has been drawn from the Corus documents:
Report and Accounts 2004
Corporate Responsibility Report 2004
Both of which are available on-line at www.corusgroup.com
Information on the ULCOS project has been drawn
from the project proposal submitted to Framework 6 programme on
15 March 2004. Authorship of that document was by all of the
ULCOS partners with overall coordination by Arcelor I-R&D,
Maizieres-les-Metz, France. The coordinator of the ULCOS project
is Jean-Pierre Birat of Arcelor I-R&D.
The ULCOS project is supported financially by
the European Commission through the Framework 6 and Research Fund
for Coal and Steel programmes.