Green steel from toxic red mud New method to make environmentally friendly steel from aluminum industry waste

Schematic representation of the hydrogen-plasma-based process used here to convert 15 g red mud portion into metallic iron (Illustration of the article in Nature)

January 30, 2024 – The production of aluminium generates around 180 million tonnes of toxic red mud every year. Scientists at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, a centre for iron research, have now shown how green steel can be produced from aluminium production waste in a relatively simple way. In an electric arc furnace like those used in the steel industry for decades, they convert the iron oxide contained in the red mud into iron using hydrogen plasma. With this process, almost 700 million tonnes of CO2-free steel could be produced from the four billion tonnes of red mud that have accumulated worldwide to date – which corresponds to a good third of annual steel production worldwide. And as the Max Planck team shows, the process would also be economically viable.
The research was published in January in Nature under the title ‘Green stem from red mud through climate-neutral hydrogen plasma reduction’.

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