A trio of Swedish companies has broken ground on an experimental steel mill that will be powered by hydrogen, instead of coal.
Steel production is responsible for about 10% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions and, if the trial succeeds, it will pave the way to a future where only water vapour comes out of steel factory stacks.
The aim is to build two "hydrogen breakthrough ironmaking technology (Hybrit)" plants.
One will develop a fossil-free techniques for producing iron ore pellets and the other will turn them into steel using only hydrogen.
The project is being developed in LuleÃ¥, in northern Sweden, by state-owned energy company Vattenfall, SSAB Swedish Steel and LKAB, a Swedish-Finnish company that is Europe’s biggest iron ore producer.
The foundations were symbolically laid last week by Stefan Löfven, the prime minister of Sweden, and deputy PM Isabella Lövin (pictured).
In his speech at the event, Löfven said: "If anyone still believes that enterprise, industry and climate-change adaptation are incompatible, I think all that doubt has been removed today."
Hybrit’s graphic showing how the carbon-free process works
He added: "Companies that take the initiative and have begun to adapt are the ones that are driving the Swedish economy forward and will continue to do so to an even greater degree."
SSAB will make the steel, LKAB will supply the materials and Vattenfall will make the hydrogen using renewable energy sources.
The cost is expected to be €150m, about a third of which will be met by a grant from the Swedish Energy Agency.
MÃ¥rten Görnerup, the chief executive of the Hybrit consortium, said: "Pilot-scale testing is necessary to verify the conclusions from small-scale laboratory tests. This opens the way to a better understanding of what happens in an interconnected industry system and how we set up an efficient production process."
Planning for the project was initiated in spring 2016, the plants are due to begin work in 2020 and the objective is to have a completely fossil-free process for steel making by 2035.
Top image: Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Löfven (front left) and deputy prime minister Isabella Lövin get the project under way (Vattenfall)