Rapid carbon-free iron ore reduction using a non-thermal atmospheric pressure plasma

Sachin Kumar1, Zichang Xiong1, Julian Held1, Peter Bruggeman1 and Uwe Kortshagen1

1Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 55455, Minnesota, USA.

CO2 emission from the steel industry (7-9% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions) is a key challenge for the global community towards achieving the aim of a carbon-neutral future. To overcome this challenge, the steel industry must reduce its dependence on Blast furnaces to produce iron and adopt a new technology that drastically lowers carbon emissions. In this presentation, we present a simple process for reducing iron ore particles with the effluents of an atmospheric pressure hydrogen plasma. The plasma is maintained by coupling microwave power in the kW range into an argon: hydrogen gas mixture. The technology has the potential to be a zero-carbon process and overcomes some major problems encountered in competitive technologies like the need for pelletizing, particle loss to the walls, vacuum operation, and the lifetime of electrodes/plasma torches. The time scales of reduction with plasma effluents will be examined and compared to the thermal reduction with hot hydrogen gas. The effect of several operating parameters on the reduction of iron ore will also be discussed. 

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