Liberty Steel ties up with European firms to build France#39;s first hydrogen-based steel plant


UK-based Liberty Steel Group, owned by Indian-origin metals tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, has signed MoUs with two European companies to set up France”s first hydrogen-based steel making plant.

Liberty Steel Group is part of diversified GFG Alliance, which has a presence in India. Last year in February, GFG Alliance made a foray into the domestic steel industry with the acquisition of Adhunik Metaliks Ltd and its arm Zion Steel for about Rs 425 crore.

“LIBERTY Steel Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Paul Wurth and SHS to assess the building and operating of an industrial-sized, hydrogen-based steel making plant at Dunkerque in France. If developed, the plant would be one of the first operations of its type in France,” Liberty Steel Group said in a statement on Monday.

While Paul Wurth is a Luxembourg-based engineering company providing technology for the global iron making industry, SHS -Stahl-Holding-Saar of Germany is an operations management company.

According to the statement, the partnership will work together on a project to incorporate a 2 million tonne Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) plant, with an integrated 1 GW (gigawatt) capacity hydrogen electrolysis production unit, next to GFG”s ALVANCE Aluminium Dunkerque site.

It said the DRI plant will initially use a mix of hydrogen and natural gas as the reductant to produce DRI and hot-briquetted iron (HBI), before transitioning to using 100 per cent hydrogen once the electrolysis production unit is complete.

The DRI/HBI produced will primarily be used in the electric arc furnace of LIBERTY Ascoval in France but any surplus will be used at LIBERTY”s Ostrava and Galati integrated steelworks as well as the SHS-group”s Dillinger and Saarstahl plants in Germany.

The company however did not disclose any financial details with respect to the project.

“This project will realise the potential of steel and hydrogen working together to solve each other”s problems. Our industry needs to reinvent steel production fast, as the need to cut our emissions gets ever more pressing against a backdrop of rising global demand for our products and legislative pressure to become carbon neutral,” Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of GFG Alliance and Liberty Steel Group, said.

Gupta stressed that hydrogen-based steel making process has potential to solve this issue and his company is determined to collaborate with like-minded partners to make it happen.

Georges Rassel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Paul Wurth, said: “Paul Wurth is delighted and thankful to support LIBERTY Steel Group in its GREENSTEEL agenda. We are convinced that this project will contribute to paving the way for the urgently required technology switch in the metals industry.”

Martin Baues, Member of the Board of Directors for Technology at SHS – Stahl-Holding Saar, Dillinger and Saarstahl, said the tie-up represents an important building block on the way to carbon neutral steel production and will help reduce carbon emissions and at the same time gain important experience in the use of hydrogen in steel production.