Cleveland-Cliffs looking to invest big in hydrogen – Inside INdiana Business

April 29, 2024 | by

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Aerial shot of Indiana Harbor Works in East Chicago. (photo courtesy of Cleveland-Cliffs)

Ohio-based steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs is getting set to make major investments in hydrogen at its steel mills in northwest Indiana.

Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the company expects to have its blast furnaces heated by a mix of fuels, at least half of which would be hydrogen.

CEO Lourenco Goncalves, speaking during a visit to United Steelworkers Local 6787 in Burns Harbor, said the future fuel mix will also include traditional coke and natural gas, but hydrogen will be the main focus.

“We are always investing in our plants,” Goncalves said. “In this area, we are going to have the most important thing, a game-changer, hydrogen. Hydrogen is coming. Hydrogen is a game-changer because hydrogen is a reductive like carbon is a reductive. But carbon produces CO2. Hydrogen produces H20. H20 is water vapor. The decarbonization will get a real boost when we’ll have the hydrogen here.”

The steelmaker recently completed its first hydrogen injection test at its Indiana Harbor No. 7 blast furnace, the largest blast furnace in North America.

The Times reports that test used hydrogen as 12% of the fuel mix, and the company hopes to get that level up to 20% in the next test, with more tests coming throughout the year.

Cleveland-Cliffs successfully injected hydrogen into Indiana Harbor Blast Furnace #7 in East Chicago, using it as 12% of the fuel mix. It hopes to get the level up to 20% by the next test.

“We believe when hydrogen is widely available, we’re going to be able to pass 50%,” he said. “We hope that it will have a positive impact on our costs but it depends on how cheap hydrogen will be. This is a chicken-and-egg thing. Hydrogen is not used because nobody produces hydrogen. And nobody produces hydrogen is because nobody uses hydrogen.”

Goncalves said he expects Cleveland-Cliffs to be the largest customer of the hydrogen hub that’s planned for the BP Whiting Refinery, which it expects to come online in 2029.

The steelmaker has completed a multimillion-dollar hydrogen pipeline to the Indiana Harbor Works facility, and plans to eventually do the same for its Burns Harbor location.

You can read the full story from Joseph S. Pete at The Times of Northwest Indiana by clicking here.

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