Rio Tinto developing biomass tech for low carbon steel production

Its technology substitutes coal for biomass in the steelmaking process, slashing emissions in the supply chain

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Rio Tinto is targeting low carbon steel production with the development of a new technology.

Its technology uses ‘sustainable’ biomass instead of coal in the steelmaking process and the company claims if it becomes commercial it could heavily cut industry carbon emissions.

The biomass is combined with microwave technology, converting iron ore to metallic iron during the steel-making process.

Rio Tinto has said its process could avoid the associated costs of other biogas-based technologies that first have to convert the biomass into charcoal or biogas.

The technology is now undergoing further testing in a pilot plant.

Simon Trott, Chief Executive, said: “More than 70% of Rio Tinto’s Scope 3 emissions are generated as customers process our iron ore into steel, which is critical for urbanisation and infrastructure development as the world’s economies decarbonise.

“So, while it’s still early days and there is a lot more research and other work to do, we are keen to explore further development of this technology.”