Air Liquide has completed the four-kilometer section of the hydrogen pipeline to the steel mill in Duisburg after six months of construction.
As part of the H2Stahl real laboratory sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), Air Liquide has completed a pipeline to thyssenkrupp Steel's steel mill in Duisburg. The approximately four-kilometer-long pipeline connects the Duisburg steel mill site with Air Liquide's hydrogen network in the Ruhr region.
Inauguration of the pipeline to the Duisburg steel mill
Europe's largest steel site in Duisburg aims to play a pioneering role in decarbonizing steel production. In 2019, the two partners injected hydrogen into a blast furnace for the first time on a test basis to reduce CO2 emissions from conventional steel production.
The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia supported the project at the time as a pioneering pilot project. In the future, hydrogen could be a key molecule for producing climate-neutral steel.
Bernhard Osburg, CEO of thyssenkrupp Steel said:
"I am delighted that we are taking a further step towards decarbonization. By connecting our site to Air Liquide's hydrogen pipeline, we at thyssenkrupp Steel are creating the conditions for climate-friendly steel production. We are moving forward step by step on our transformation path. With the pipeline now completed by our partner Air Liquide we are creating further facts.
It will allow climate-friendly hydrogen to be supplied to us from 2024. We will need it for research and simulation purposes and then above all to supply our first direct reduction plant."
Hydrogen for industrial customers
Air Liquide's 200 km long hydrogen pipeline network along the Rhine and Ruhr rivers is designed to launch the hydrogen future. The pipelines connect hydrogen production plants and major customers in Marl, Oberhausen, Duisburg, Krefeld, Leverkusen, Dormagen, Düsseldorf and other cities in the region.
Gilles Le Van, Vice President Larges Industries and Energy Transition for Air Liquide Central Europe:
"For the industrial transformation to succeed, we need determined cooperation between representatives from politics and industry. The new hydrogen pipeline to thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg is a prime example of this. A big thank you is due to the Federal Ministry of Economics and the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia. It is vital for the survival of industry in Germany that we always think about effective climate protection and international competitiveness together."
In the fall of 2023, the first 20 MW industrial-scale water electrolysis plant, the "Trailblazer" in Oberhausen, is scheduled to be connected to Air Liquide's H2 network - allowing customers to be supplied with up to 2,900 t/y of renewable hydrogen via pipeline in the first stage. An expandability of +10 MW capacity is in the pipeline, according to the company. Additional initiatives to provide renewable hydrogen for industry and mobility in the region are under development, it said.
Neubaur calls for "hydrogen economy in solidarity"
The Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia, Mona Neubaur, visited the teams of Air Liquide and thyssenkrupp Steel on the occasion of the "pipeline inauguration" in Duisburg. For the industrial state of NRW, hydrogen lighthouse projects are being created at various locations to drive forward the transformation.
Minister for Economics Mona Neubaur:
"For the industrial transformation and climate-friendly change on the Rhine and Ruhr, we need large quantities of hydrogen - we are all aware of that. In addition to the capacities for production, we also need a well-developed infrastructure for transport. Duisburg is demonstrating here and now how the development of a hydrogen economy can succeed with the cooperation of various players and how different projects can grow together in a meaningful way. This is a strong signal for the competitiveness and innovative strength of industry in our country."
On the way to industrial use of hydrogen
Hydrogen has not yet been used on a large industrial scale for steel production. thyssenkrupp Steel has successfully completed initial test series for hydrogen injection into an existing blast furnace since 2019.
Although an expansion of these trials is currently on hold due to high natural gas and energy prices, plans to build a direct reduction test facility are continuing unabated to test the technological leap to hydrogen-based, climate-neutral hot metal production.
The "technological milestone" would then be the construction of the first large-scale industrial direct reduction plant with meltdown units. The contracts for this are to be awarded shortly. Completion is planned for 2026.