Hydrogen pipe systems are being installed at a North East research and innovation hub as part of the initial £270,000 phase of a multi-million project to demonstrate innovation UK in the manufacture of environmentally friendly steel.
Commercial Maintenance Services UK Ltd (CMS) is currently installing the infrastructure as part of the development of a proposed permanent national pilot distribution and production facility at the Materials Processing Institute Teesside Campus.
The first part of the project, dubbed H2DRI, will focus on how production can be increased and develop a practical and scientific understanding of how best to deliver economically and environmentally sustainable green steelmaking.
As part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio Industrial Fuel Switching government competition that funds low-carbon technologies and systems, the project is led by the Institute in partnership with electric technology developers C-Tech Innovation, the University of Teesside, Swansea University’s Institute of Steel and Metals, and global metals and mining company Rio Tinto.
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Using ‘green’ carbon-free hydrogen could transform the steel industry, currently one of the biggest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, replacing the coke and other polluting fossil fuels that are currently used to power furnaces and convert iron ore into iron metal.
The hydrogen will be used to power three phases of the steelmaking process: the conversion of iron ores into metal (which is then electrically smelted to make molten steel); preheat a ladle with a capacity of seven tons ready to receive the molten steel; and later, providing the intense, high-temperature flames needed to heat the metal plates before turning them into finished products.
CMS was contracted to undertake the design, fabrication and installation of the piping due to its expertise in delivering large commercial projects nationwide in several business critical services including gas, plumbing and heating, electricity, renewable energy and fire safety.
Specially hardened piping is designed to handle the high pressures associated with hydrogen. Additionally, all welds have been x-rayed through a rigorous non-destructive testing process to ensure there are no weaknesses.
After installation above and below ground, it is hooked up to a manifold and control system before hydrogen can be introduced into multiple campus buildings, facilities and processes Nigel Riley, Senior Project Manager at CMS, headquartered in Gateshead, said: “We are proud to support the Institute in such an important initiative. Our engineers are highly experienced in many sectors including industry, defence, commerce and the public sector, but this is one of the most ambitious projects to date as it has the potential to transform the steel industry and cut harmful emissions.
Chris McDonald, Managing Director of the Materials Processing Institute, added: “It is exciting to see work progressing on the H2DRI project and in creating a pilot production facility that will be key to proving that hydrogen is the answer. to the decarbonization of steel production on an industrial scale. Our new hydrogen infrastructure also opens the door to all sorts of further scaling up innovation on Teesside.
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