ViganCimbriaTelestackSailors SocietyTBA GroupVan Aalst
  • Bühler GmbH
  • Port of Stockton
  • Vigan
  • Cimbria
  • Van Aalst
  • The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology

BioIron proves successful for low-carbon iron-making

BioIron proves successful for low-carbon iron-making

(Posted on 29/11/22)

Rio Tinto has proven the effectiveness of its low-carbon iron-making process using ores from its mines in Australia in a small-scale pilot plant in Germany, and is now planning the development of a larger-scale pilot plant to further assess its potential to help decarbonise the steel value chain.

The process, known as BioIron, uses raw biomass instead of metallurgical coal as a reductant and microwave energy to convert Pilbara iron ore to metallic iron in the steelmaking process. BioIron™ has the potential to support near-zero CO2 steel-making, and can result in net negative emissions if linked with carbon capture and storage.

Over the past 18 months, the process has been tested extensively in Germany by a project team from Rio Tinto, sustainable technology company Metso Outotec, and the University of Nottingham’s Microwave Process Engineering Group. Development work was conducted in a small-scale pilot plant using batches of 1,000 golf ball-sized iron ore and biomass briquettes.

Rio Tinto Chief Commercial Officer, Alf Barrios, said “Finding low-carbon solutions for iron and steelmaking is critical for the world as we tackle the challenges of climate change. Proving BioIron works at this scale is an exciting development given the implications it could have for global decarbonisation.

“The results from this initial testing phase show great promise and demonstrate that the BioIron process is well suited to Pilbara iron ore fines. BioIron is just one of the pathways we are developing in our decarbonisation work with our customers, universities and industry to reduce carbon emissions right across the steel value chain.”

BioIron™’s potential was confirmed in a comprehensive and independent technical review by Hatch, the global engineering, project management and professional services firm. Hatch noted the thorough work completed by the team and BioIron™’s capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while converting Pilbara iron ore into iron and steel.

The BioIron™ process will now be tested on a larger scale, at a specially designed continuous pilot plant with a capacity of one tonne per hour. The design of the pilot plant is underway and Rio Tinto is considering suitable locations for its construction.

The BioIron™ process works using lignocellulosic biomass including agricultural by-products (e.g. wheat straw, canola stalks, barley straw, sugar cane bagasse) or purpose-grown crops. The biomass is blended with iron ore and heated by a combination of combusting gases released by the biomass and high-efficiency microwaves that can be powered by renewable energy.

Rio Tinto is aware of the complexities around the use of biomass supply and is working to ensure only sustainable sources of biomass are used. Accordingly, the company is undertaking a benchmarking study of biomass certification processes. Through discussions with environmental groups, as a first step Rio Tinto have ruled out sources that support the logging of old growth and High Conservation Value forests.

Steelmaking accounts for 8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, and 66 percent of Rio Tinto’s Scope 3 emissions.

The BioIron™ process is well suited to Pilbara iron ore fines and is a highly efficient use of biomass as it is primarily used as a reductant, with microwave energy driving the iron ore reduction reactions to remove the oxygen from the iron ore.

Latest News

Cargill completes acquisition of Owensboro Grain Company

(Posted on 27/01/23)

Cargill has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Owensboro Grain Company, a fifth-generation... Read more


BHP selects seven companies to accelerate copper and nickel exploration

(Posted on 23/01/23)

BHP Xplor, an accelerator programme introduced by BHP in August 2022, has announced its first cohort... Read more


Trafigura makes carbon removal commitment as part of First Movers Coalition

(Posted on 16/01/23)

Trafigura Group Ptd Ltd., a market leader in the global commodities industry, has made a public carbon... Read more


Hefner assumes USGC global trade position in Washington

(Posted on 10/01/23)

Jace Hefner has joined the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in its Washington, D.C., headquarters as the new... Read more


Cargill announces CFO transition

(Posted on 10/01/23)

Cargill has announced that Jamie Miller will step down as Chief Financial Officer to accept an opportunity... Read more


Adbri extends supply contract with ICL

(Posted on 10/01/23)

Adbri Limited has announced that it has extended its cementitious materials supply arrangement with... Read more


Dana Steel to replace imported raw materials with ‘Made in UAE’ supply

(Posted on 04/01/23)

Khalifa Economic Zones Abu Dhabi – KEZAD Group, the integrated trade, logistics, and industrial... Read more


GrainCorp to boost digital connectivity in the bush

(Posted on 23/12/22)

Australian agribusiness GrainCorp is co-leading a $12 million investment round into rural connectivity... Read more


BHP and OZ Minerals extend exclusivity period

(Posted on 20/12/22)

BHP has provided an update to its announcement on 18 November 2022 that confirmed BHP had entered into... Read more


Kaisa Hietala to join Rio Tinto Board

(Posted on 20/12/22)

Rio Tinto has appointed Kaisa Hietala as a non-executive director. Ms Hietala, a Finnish citizen, will... Read more


TOC EventsCleveland Cascades LtdThe Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology Port of South LouisianaBühler GmbHPort of Stockton
  • Sailors Society
  • Cleveland Cascades Ltd
  • Port of South Louisiana

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest global news in bulk cargo handling and shipping