EGEB: A Swedish venture ships the world’s first fossil-free steel to Volvo

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Swedish venture HYBRIT ships its first batch of steel made with green hydrogen instead of coal.
  • Korean researchers say they can recycle solar panels into high-performance solar cells.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Swedish green steel

Swedish green steel venture HYBRIT – that’s short for Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology – announced on Wednesday that it has made the world’s first delivery of steel manufactured without using coal. Volvo took the delivery as a trial run before the green steel goes into full commercial production in 2026. HYBRIT started test operations at its pilot plant in Luleå a year ago.

HYBRIT was launched in 2016 by steel maker SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall, and miner LKAB, all Swedish companies. Here’s how its steelmaking process works, according to HYBRIT:

The HYBRIT technology involves replacing the blast furnace process, which uses carbon and coke to remove the oxygen from iron ore, with a direct reduction process where we use fossil-free hydrogen produced from water using electricity from fossil-free energy sources. Instead of carbon dioxide, water vapor is formed. 

Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB could potentially reduce Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions by around 10% and Finland’s by around 7%.

Martin Lindqvist, president and CEO of SSAB, said:

The first fossil-free steel in the world is not only a breakthrough for SSAB, it represents proof that it’s possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry. We hope that this will inspire others to also want to speed up the green transition.

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Solar panel recycling breakthrough

The state-run Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) said yesterday that one of its research teams has developed a technique to recycle solar panels.

The KIER researchers say they can retrieve 100% of glass components and around 80% of other materials from solar panels in order to recycle them into high-performance solar cells. PV Magazine summarizes the team’s process:

The novel technique can be applied to either damaged or undamaged panels and works in four steps: The automated dismantling of the frame and the junction box; glass separation; metal recovery; and solar cell recycling…

The Korean group claims that the new technique, which was, so far, tested on an undefined series of 72-cell panels, reduces power consumption by a third compared to other recycling technology, thanks to process optimization. The system is also said to allow the recovery of high-quality glass with an iron content of less than 200 parts per million, and of more than 65% of the components that make up a panel.

The scientists were also able to refine the silicon recovered from waste panels to make six-inch single crystal ingots and wafers. The wafers were used to manufacture a 20.05%, high-efficiency solar cell.

HST, a Korean solar-generating equipment maker, is going to use the KIER team’s technique for commercialization.

Read more: A great breakthrough for solar panel recycling

Photo: HYBRIT

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