Replacement of coal with polymers: solutions for a more sustainable steel production

by | Dec 12, 2023 | News

The Duferco Travi e Profilati Group recently successfully concluded a project to research alternative materials to replace coal in steelmaking processes. Developed in collaboration with companies with established experience in the field, such as Tenova, Euromec and I.Blu, the innovation aims to mitigate the environmental impact of activities while promoting the circular economy.

Indeed, with a view to the full decarbonization of processes, the main goal remains to reduce, and gradually eliminate, the use of materials such as coal and anthracite from the production process, replacing them with alternative recycled materials.

In the production of electric arc furnace (EAF) steels, anthracite plays a major role as a “reducing and foaming agent” a specific use for which polymers are a viable alternative.

After the trial project confirmed the expected results, showing that it is possible and cost-effective to replace virgin coals injected into the electric furnace with materials such as recycled polymers, the steel mill in San Zeno invested in industrializing the use of polymers.

This resulted in a reduction of the use of coal (anthracite) in the steel melting process, partially replacing it with recycled plastic polymers obtained from the recycling cycle of plastic waste.

In addition to the direct benefits tested in the process, the project has several indirect positive environmental impacts: from the presence in the polymers of a significant amount of biomass that results in lower CO2 emissions, to a recovery of waste that would otherwise flow to landfills, to a reduction in the use of coal that results in a reduction of the impacts associated with it (consumption of natural resources, processing on the raw material, indirect emissions…).