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Valorising emissions from steel-making into sustainable products

The metals research institute Swerim has joined the INITIATE (Innovative industrial transformation of the steel and chemical industries of Europe) consortium, a project awarded 21 M€ by European Union Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. The project aims to demonstrate industrial symbiosis concept between the steel and chemical industry with the aim to reuse emissions from the steel industry into sustainable products.  

To reach the EU climate targets, the steel and iron production sectors should decrease their CO2 emissions up to 90% by 2050. To contribute to this effort, the EU project INITIATE has just started with the objective to use residual gas emissions from these industries to create valuable products.

In an operational environment, INITIATE will show how residual carbon-rich gas from one sector becomes valuable feedstock for another, all the while sustaining the cost of carbon capture. The project will demonstrate a novel synergistic and circular process that transforms residual steel gases into resources for high purity urea. The project will also conduct a macro-economic analysis and life cycle analysis to ensure the sustainability of the process and develop a commercial deployment roadmap for technology roll-out.

The consortium consisting of major steel, urea and energy transition industrial players (Arcelor Mittal, SSAB, Stamicarbon and NextChem,), functional material suppliers (Johnson Matthey and Kisuma Chemicals), multi-disciplinary research organisations (TNO, Swerim, Politecnico di Milano and Radboud University Nijmegen) and experienced promoters of Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU), circularity and industrial symbiosis topics (CO2 Value Europe).

INITIATE’s coordinator, Eric van Dijk, Senior Scientist at TNO said:

“I am honoured to guide this consortium towards the validation of the business case based on the TRL7 industrial demonstration plant, as well as prepare for the first commercial scale plant trough the pre-engineering and site identification. I believe we have gathered the right consortium to valorise the residual gases from the iron and steel sector into one of the most important bulk chemicals, ammonia & urea.

The strength of the consortium has been evidenced in the Dutch national BOF2Urea feasibility study, and the entire value chain from material suppliers, to technology suppliers and end users are represented. The two technologies that make up the core of the project are the STEPWISE reactive CO2 separation technology and the advanced ammonia synthesis loop. Moreover, advanced process control strategies are implemented for optimal efficiency.

In conclusion, an enthusiastic consortium is ready to make INITIATE a success.”


INITIATE officially started on the 1st of November 2020 and is expected to last 4.5 years. The demonstrators will be located on the premises of Swerim, in Luleå, Sweden. The project builds upon infrastructure and knowledge developed from previously supported European and national projects, including Stepwise (EU Ref: 640769), FReSMe (EU Ref: 727504) and BOF2UREA (NL Ref: TCCU117008).


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