The Austrian government has awarded the “National Prize for Innovation” to Primetals Technologies for Hydrogen-based Fine-Ore Reduction (HYFOR). The prestigious award was presented in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2023.
The National Prize
The innovation prize is the Republic of Austria’s most prestigious award for significant contributions to the country’s sustainable economic development by national companies. The team of experts from Primetals Technologies Austria who received the prize has been developing HYFOR since 2016. A pilot plant for the technology has been in operation in Donawitz, Austria, since 2021. Since then, the team has run several successful tests and trials to optimize the technology for the next phase of development.
HYFOR is a direct reduction process consisting of three parts, a preheating and oxidation unit, a reduction unit based on a fluidized-bed technology using hydrogen to oxygen from the iron oxide producing metallic iron, and an off-gas treatment plant, which recycles the dust created during the reduction process.
Recently, Fortescue, a global leader in mining and heavy industries; voestalpine, the Austrian steel and technology group; and Primetals Technologies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to bring HYFOR to Linz, Austria. The cooperation aims at designing and engineering an industrial-scale prototype plant for carbon-neutral ironmaking using HYFOR and the Smelter. The Smelter technology is an electric smelting furnace for the melting and final reduction of direct reduced iron from lower-grade iron ores. The Smelter therefore is an innovative alternative to conventional blast furnace routes to produce hot metal for the steelmaking process.
A cost-effective and net-zero emissions
The joint project teams have been working closely together throughout 2023 and are finalizing preparations to realize the industrial-scale prototype plant. Once HYFOR demonstrates its viability at scale, steel producers will have a clear alternative to the blast furnace route, offering the benefit of net-zero emissions and reduction of cost when compared with routes requiring additional agglomeration steps.