Towards fossil-free steel production – FFS2 project brings together industry and research institutes to ensure the competitiveness and leadership of the Finnish steel industry

Towards Fossil-Free Steel Phase 2 (FFS2) is a joint project that brings together industry and research institutes in Finland to jointly develop their skills and business in fossil-free steelmaking.

SSAB Minimill-laitos Raahessa KUVA: SSAB

The transformation to fossil free steelmaking requires a new approach to and research into the entire steel production process. The transformation to fossil-free steelmaking will have a wide-reaching impact on the entire process: the melting and rolling process, side streams and, importantly, the production and use of electrical energy. The research project will also focus on resolving unanswered questions related to the details of among other things the mini-mill-type production process.

“Even though fossil-free steel production processes are well known in principle, there are still numerous challenges that need to be resolved before the beginning of the 2030s. The FFS project, which ended at the end of 2023, was successful and generated a lot of new information on fossil-free steelmaking technologies, energy issues and sustainability. The project was originally planned as a 2+2-year project, and we have now launched the second phase with a new consortium,” says Jarmo Lilja, Process Development Manager at SSAB.

The planned new production system based on mini-mill technology in Raahe means SSAB has specified the research focus areas as thin-slab casting and direct rolling technology, electric melting of recycled scrap steel and hydrogen-reduced sponge iron in electric arc furnaces, and recycling and utilization of secondary materials. The completed FFS project resulted in new opportunities being found, for example, in the use of biochar for slag foaming in electric arc furnaces.

The FFS2 consortium comprises ten companies and three research institutions – the University of Oulu, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Åbo Akademi University. The project is being funded by Business Finland and coordinated by environmental consultant Macon Oy.

“The new project will enable us to go deeper into the critical manufacturing stages of hydrogen-based steelmaking using our own unique pilot facilities together with top international researchers in Germany, Austria, Sweden and Canada,” says Timo Fabritius, Professor in Process Metallurgy at the University of Oulu.

The steel industry has a major impact on the Finnish economy and directly or indirectly employs around 27,000 people in Finland. The steel industry is also the largest carbon dioxide emitter, accounting for around 7% of Finland’s total emissions. The FFS2 project is very important with regard to strengthening the competitiveness of the steel industry while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Project website: www.ffs2.fi

Jarmo Lilja, head of FFS2 project, Process Development Manager at SSAB Europe Oy: jarmo.lilja@ssab.com, +358 40 557 8892

Professor Timo Fabritius, FFS2 steering group member, Process Metallurgy Research Unit, University of Oulu: timo.fabritius@oulu.fi, +358 40 554 6683

Mikko Ahokas, FFS2 project coordinator, Macon Oy: mikko.ahokas@macon.fi, +358 40 502 5249