Italian steel plant first to use hydrogen-gas blend
Italian companies said May 19 that the first-ever test of mixing hydrogen with natural gas in the industrial steel sector was accomplished at a plant in Milan.
A trial project that utilised a 30% natural gas/hydrogen blend successfully heated the furnaces at the Forgiatura A. Vienna steelmaking plant in the province of Milan.
Led by energy infrastructure developer Snam, engineering consultancy RINA and steelmaker GIVA Group, the blend required no plant modifications, had no impact on plant equipment and did nothing to alter the characteristics of the end product.
Snam CEO Marco Alvera said that long-term goals envision hydrogen as a way to avoid emissions from industrial sectors, a vision that so far has proved somewhat elusive.
“This trial is a preparatory step to the gradual introduction of zero-emission hydrogen, initially blended with natural gas and then in pure form, in certain steelmaking production processes,” he said.
Sapio, an Italian company supplying industrial and medical gases, delivered the mixed fuel for the trial.
Project developers estimate that hydrogen blends used at three of GIVA’s steel forging plants could avoid as much as 15,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
“The use of hydrogen in hard-to-abate industrial applications such as steelmaking will play a key role in achieving domestic and EU climate neutrality targets by 2050,” a statement read. “Looking ahead, green hydrogen is the ideal solution for CO2-free steelmaking and processing.”
This was the first such development in Italy. But in Germany, steel producer Thyssenkrupp announced in January that it was working with transmission system operator OGE and Norwegian oil and gas firm Equinor on supplying its Duisburg site with natural gas-derived blue hydrogen to reduce emissions.
Blue hydrogen will help the Duisburg site achieve nearly climate-neutral steel production in the short- and mid-term, during which time green hydrogen produced from water using renewable energy-powered electrolysis will not be available in sufficient quantities, Thyssenkrupp said.
Those partners said the project's entire value chain could be up and running as early as 2027.