Scientists from the universities of Leeds and Sheffield have secured £1.26m ($1.63m) in financing from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) to study ways to decarbonise the UK steel industry over the next 30 years.
CREDS said that steel manufacturing involves a high carbon process, in turn releasing carbon dioxide, which is the gas linked to climate change.
According to the World Steel Association data, every tonne of the steel manufacturing process creates 1.8t of carbon dioxide.
CREDS director Nick Eyre said: “Decarbonising the UK energy system is a major national challenge for the coming decades, nowhere more so than in major industrial processes.
“I am therefore delighted that colleagues from Leeds and Sheffield are joining CREDS to research steel industry decarbonisation.”
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Recently, the UK has legally committed to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions to net-zero by 2050.
The universities of Leeds and Sheffield noted that its interdisciplinary team will work on developing new approaches combined with technology to eliminate the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Leeds energy expert and professor William Gale said: “The reality is the steel industry in the UK has to decarbonise, but this has to be done sensitively otherwise there is a risk the industry will relocate to where the rules on carbon are more lax.
“Our challenge is to bring about real change without eroding the wafer-thin margins on which the industry operates.”
According to the European Steel Association (EUROFER), around 50% of the steel produced in Europe is obtained from scrap metal. As scrap is melted in electric arc furnaces, recycled steel is considered ‘clean’ only if it is recovered in furnaces that use green electricity.
The research at Leeds University will also help the government in achieving its Clean Growth Strategy, which is committed in 2017 to develop the UK economy and reduce GHG emissions.