Hydrogen-based steel production routes - A comparison of the technological principles

Johannes Schenk, Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria


A promising approach for CO2-free steel production is using hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources. Direct reduction plants that are operated with reformed natural gas already use a high proportion of hydrogen in the reduction gas for the reduction of iron ores to sponge iron. The direct reduction process Circored was the first process worldwide to be operated with pure hydrogen. The theoretical aspects of the reduction of iron oxides with hydrogen will be summarized in the presentation. Different process routes for the production of crude steel based on hydrogen reduction are under development today. The technological principles of the reactor systems of these processes are compared and discussed. Finally, the state of technological development of these processes and the challenges in the industrial implementation for the substitution of the current routes based on fossil energy are reasoned.


Johannes Schenk started his professional career at Voestalpine Industrieanlagenbau (now Primetals Technologies Austria) in 1990. He was working as a process and research engineer for different ironmaking technologies such as MIDREX, COREX and FINMET. As general manager and vice president of R&D, he was responsible for the development of the FINEX process between 1992 to 2007.
In 2008, he got the call as full professor for the chair of ferrous metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben. His research focus at the university is on the primary technology for steel production, i.e. ironmaking and crude steel production. The current topics in the ongoing research projects are related to CO2 lean steel production and circular economy. Since 2015 he is also the Chief Scientific Officer of the Austrian metallurgical competence center K1-MET GmbH.
Johannes Schenk has published more than 160 papers in Journals and Conference Proceedings and is the inventor and co-inventor of more than 30 patent families.

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