Accidental invention of emission free steel
How much CO2 is emitted during the production of one ton of steel? An interesting question which nobody can answer, except staff working at the environment department of blast furnaces. Nearly double the amount. That’s two ton. What an incredible coincidence that three scientists accidentally discovered how steel can be produced without any emission.
Antoine Allanore, Lana Yin and Donald Sadoway made the discovery while working on a completely different assignment by NASA. This space center is apparently still working on the realization of human settlements on the moon. The researchers task was to discover how oxygen can be produced cheaply and easily on the moon.
Moondust is rich in iron oxide. During their trials they looked into a process called “oxide electrolysis”, during which pure oxygen is emitted, as well as steel as a residual product. This in itself was not an unexpected find. The extraordinary aspect is that the team thought further and calculated the economical feasibility of this process on earth. Generally, iridium – an extremely expensive material - is used during electrolysis. These researchers developed a method using an alloy of chromium and iron. They tested it with soil from a meteor crater in Arizona, similar to the soil found on the moon. Result: a steel variety of an unknown purity. No CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere during the process.
Another question. Do you have any idea about the amount of steel annually produced on earth? In 2012, it was 1.547 million ton, so you can calculate the amount of CO2 emission. The scientists think their method of steel production is already profitable at an annual production scale of several thousands of tons.