Advanced Steels for the Green Planet
AS4G (II) is a project developed based on Finland and the European Union goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 and 2050, respectively. The project focuses on fundamental knowledge-driven cutting-edge innovations in advanced steels research, fundamental physics, metallurgical processing, and the utilization of industrial side streams. The project is organized into five themes, each of which has a unique goal.
The first theme, Key Steps towards Sustainable Green Hydrogen in Industrial Applications (SUSHi), aims to develop a fundamental understanding of the physico-chemical operation of photocatalysts for hydrogen production as well as on low-carbon and carbon-free hydrogen-based reduction processes in the metal industry. The goal is to develop novel photocatalysts for hydrogen evolution and to optimize novel ore reduction processes. The use of hydrogen (H2) is considered a key solution to sustainable processes and energy production/storage. The project seeks to reduce CO2 emissions and promote alternative sustainable production, such as electrolytic water splitting using high-performance electrolysers and green electricity. The project also seeks to utilize solar energy for photocatalysis, but this requires effective, safe catalytic materials, electronic level understanding of their behavior, and steps towards scaling up for large-scale production.
The second theme, Carbon-Free Steelmaking by Hydrogen Use (H2IRON), focuses on replacing fossil carbon with hydrogen as the reducing agent to significantly decrease CO2 emissions generated during steelmaking. The project aims to develop carbon-free iron- and steel-making concepts through a gradual transition from fossil reductants to hydrogen-based concepts. The current blast furnace (BF) operation, which is a key process in ore-based iron making, involves chemical reaction with carbon monoxide, which is formed as a result of partial combustion or gasification of metallurgical coal and coke. However, carbon-free iron- and steel-making concepts rely on the use of hydrogen instead of carbon.
The third theme, Utilization of Slags and Other Side Streams as Sustainable Cements (ZeroWasteMill), aims to utilize industrial side streams as sustainable cements. The project seeks to address the challenges posed by climate change and the environmental impact of traditional cement production. This work aims at utilization of slags and other side streams from carbon-free steel production. The side streams will be chemically modified, resulting in improved reactivity and CO2 capture. After that, they will be utilized as supplementary cementitious materials.
The fourth theme, Metallurgy of Advanced Steels for Sustainable Applications (MAS4G), focuses on the metallurgy of advanced steels for sustainable applications. The project aims to generate new physico-chemical understanding, metallurgical competences, and models, and build toolkits for long- and short-term future needs. The goal is to enable climate-neutral and competitive steel production, steel innovations, and steel applications. The main objectives of MAS4A are to develop 3rd and 4th generation hot- and cold-rolled ultrahigh-strength steels (UHSS) without the excessive use of expensive alloying elements, with the yield strength targeted in the range 900 to >2000 MPa and elongation >20 % and having extremely good low-temperature toughness, wear resistance, weldability, formability, and high sustainability.
The fifth theme, Virtual Steelmaking Platform (VSP), aims to develop a virtual steelmaking platform that will enable the integration of process simulations with experimental results, bridging the gap between fundamental research and industrial steel production. VSP makes it possible to consider new and changed process steps before the actual production begins. The impact of hydrogen-based steelmaking on process efficiency, potential bottlenecks, the formation of desired side streams, the final mechanical properties of the steel, and the carbon footprint can be solved virtually. With this information, the design and implementation of a new steel production chain and utilization of side streams can be streamlined.
In conclusion, AS4G (II) is a project aimed at achieving carbon neutrality through fundamental knowledge-driven cutting-edge innovations in various fields related to steel production. The project aims to develop carbon-free iron- and steel-making concepts, utilize industrial side streams for sustainable cement production, and promote the utilization of hydrogen for sustainable processes and energy production/storage. The project also seeks to generate new physico-chemical understanding, metallurgical competences, and models, and build toolkits for long- and short-term future needs. The virtual steelmaking platform will enable the integration of process simulations with experimental results and enhance industrial symbiosis.