Decarbonising the UK steel industry

Scientists at the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield have won £1.26 million funding to investigate ways to decarbonise the UK steel industry.

The UK is legally committed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, for every tonne of steel that is created, 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide is produced through the manufacturing process.

By combining multiple specialities from across the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, the new research will investigate ways to decarbonise the UK’s steel industry within the next 30 years.

The research has been funded by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS).

Professor Nick Eyre, CREDS Director, said: “Decarbonising the UK energy system is a major national challenge for the coming decades, nowhere more so than in major industrial processes. I am therefore delighted that colleagues from Leeds and Sheffield are joining CREDS to research steel industry decarbonisation.”

The project’s principal investigator, Professor William Gale from the University of Leeds School of Process and Chemical Engineering, said: “The reality is the steel industry in the UK has to decarbonise, but this has to be done sensitively otherwise there is a risk the industry will relocate to where the rules on carbon are more lax.

“Our challenge is to bring about real change without eroding the wafer-thin margins on which the industry operates.”

“Our research will investigate a range of emerging technologies and solutions. We will look at whether there is a way you can integrate a number of different approaches. We will delve into the costs and timescales and develop a very detailed, fully-costed ‘route map’ of technologies and policies which will enable industry to make this vital transformation without it being saddled with unrealistic costs.

“Steel is an important material so we can’t just stop manufacturing it. This project will bring together a range of experts: from scientists and engineers involved in researching alternative methods of production or ways to recover it from scrap – to policy and business experts analysing the policy initiatives and incentives needed for this change.”

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