SSAB and Exxon among project partners in US$6bn US decarbonisation scheme

Article by Aniqah Majid

Red ivory, Shutterstock
DOE expect the decarbonisation projects to reduce the equivalent of 14m t/y of CO2 emissions.

SWEDISH conglomerate SSAB and ExxonMobil are among the companies selected by the US to deliver various projects across the country to decarbonise emission intensive industries.

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that 33 projects related to industries including cement and concrete, iron and steel, and chemicals and refining, will benefit from US$6bn in government funding, making it the country’s biggest investment into decarbonisation to date.

With the industrial sector producing 1.9bn T of CO2 equivalent in 2021, around a third of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions, DOE expects the projects to reduce the equivalent of 14m t/y of CO2 emissions. 

Almost US$5.5bn of funding will come from the landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which aims to inject more than US$370bn into US climate and low carbon programmes. The rest will come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

Industry players involved

SSAB will benefit from the biggest pot of funding with US$500m for the Hydrogen-Fueled Zero Emissions Steel Making project. The company aims to build a commercial scale facility that uses 100% hydrogen to create fossil-free direct reduced iron (DRI). DRI is the process of removing oxygen from iron ore or other iron bearing materials without the need for melting and using a blast furnace. The decarbonisation technology for DRI was developed by the HYBRIT initiative, which comprises of SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall.

By not relying on carbon, the process could be the most effective route to green steal production. The facility will be built in Mississippi, with SSAB planning to expand its steelmaking plant in Iowa to make use of the hydrogen-reduced DRI.

The chemicals and refining industry, which includes projects led by ExxonMobil, ISP Chemicals, and Dow, will receive between US$79m to US$330m respectively. Exxon will lead the Baytown Olefins Plant Carbon Reduction Project, which looks to replace the natural gas used by equipment to produce ethylene with hydrogen, by using new burner technologies. The project aims to avoid the production of 2.5m t/y of CO2, which is more than half of the total emissions produced by the Texas plant.

Workforce growth and upskilling

DOE expect the projects to make way for thousands of new permanent jobs in the industrial sector. With around 80% of projects located in disadvantaged communities, the scheme expects the investment to strengthen local economies.

SSAB’s project expects to produce 540 permanent jobs at its facilities, with summer camp scholarships available for qualifying high school students from underrepresented communities. ExxonMobil plans to train 140 permanent workers at the Baytown Olefins Plant on how to work with hydrogen.

Jennifer Granholm, the US secretary of energy, said: “Spurring on the next generation of decarbonisation technologies in key industries like steel, paper, concrete, and glass will keep America the most competitive nation on Earth.”

The funding follows DOE’s US$750m investment earlier this month to support 52 clean hydrogen projects. These projects are located across 24 states and DOE expect they will help US manufacturing capacity to produce around 1.3m t/y of clean hydrogen.

Article by Aniqah Majid

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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