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Comment Sustainability

Metso Outotec introduces new technology for hydrogen-based fine-ore reduction

By Mary Page Bailey |

Metso Outotec Corp. (Helsinki, Finland) is introducing the next generation of its Circored process for the direct reduction of iron ore fines. The process uses hydrogen as a reducing agent instead of CO produced from fossil fuels, allowing the iron and steel industry to efficiently tackle the decarbonization challenge. Circored is part of Metso Outotec’s Planet Positive portfolio.

The flexible Circored process produces highly metalized DRI (direct reduced iron) or HBI (hot briquetted iron) that can directly be used as feed material in electric arc furnaces for carbon-free steelmaking.

“We are very excited about the Circored process. It is an emissions- and cost-efficient alternative to traditional steelmaking routes. This innovative process eliminates the need for costly and energy intensive pelletizing, and its functionality and performance have been proven in an industrial-scale demonstration plant. Now our team of experts has evolved the process further, and we will present the updated technology at the2021 Dubai Steel & Raw Materials Hybrid Conference on December 8th. Additionally, during the first quarter of 2022, we will be revealing further ground-breaking additions to Circored capabilities – the key word being low-grade ore – so please stay tuned for these exciting developments,” explains Attaul Ahmad, Vice President, Ferrous and Heat Transfer at Metso Outotec.

The Circored process is based on the extensive fluidized bed knowledge and experience developed and applied by Metso Outotec over decades in hundreds of plants for different applications. The process applies a two-stage reactor configuration with a circulating fluidized bed (CFB) followed by a bubbling fluidized bed (FB) downstream. The typical plant capacity is 1.25 Mt/y per line. Two or more lines can be combined using joint facilities and utility areas. In stand-alone plants, the produced DRI is briquetted to HBI to enable further handling and safe transport. 

If a Circored plant is integrated into an existing steelmaking facility, energy efficiency can be further increased by direct hot feeding of the DRI to an electric arc furnace.

As a general rule, the Circored process can handle feeds with a particle size of up to 2 mm. However, depending on the decrepitation behavior, particle sizes of up to 6 mm are possible. For processing ultrafine (< 50 µm) ores or process reverts like scrubber dust, Metso Outotec has patented a simple microgranulation process.

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