Green steel becomes a true reality thanks to this research
We are currently immersed in a fight against climate change. Virtually all industries are redirecting their energies to fighting this important change with a clear objective in mind: achieving the lowest possible emissions while maintaining a very high level of efficiency and production. For this reason, initiatives such as achieve green hydrogen production, a milestone that can now be combined with another equally important one: producing green steel. After all, the metal industry is one of the most polluting on the planet, so it is important to find some sustainable outlet, since it is also fundamental.
From toxic red mud to sustainable steel in 10 minutes
The aluminum industry, responsible for the generation of 198 million tons of bauxite waste each year, remains that are called red mud and they are toxic. In the long run, this is an environmental problem, but this is added to that of the steel industry, which contributes with 8% of global CO2 emissionssomething that is not strange either, since this metal is one of the most demanded. Nowadays it is even used to make metal straws, much healthier than its cardboard alternative.
In this framework, things can change substantially for the researchers at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, who have developed a revolutionary process that transforms red mud into iron and rust in just 10 minutes as they have documented in an article published in the journal Nature.
Subsequently, once the material is collected, it can be used later for the manufacture of steel in a simpler and more sustainable way in the long term. Although the procedure involves handling toxic materials due to the nature of bauxite, it represents a very important advance and determinant towards sustainability in the industry, offering a second life to a waste that until now was very problematic and reducing the dependence on primary sources of iron.
Beyond being ecologically acceptable, this process also stands out for being very economically viable. It is not limited to being an environmentally friendly solution and also offers us a profitable alternative for the industry, something very positive, since sometimes processes of this style only make the final result more expensive, affecting consumers with lower purchasing power. This creates a balance between sustainability and viability that can satisfy everyone.
- Currently, the aluminum industry generates 198 million tons of bauxite, known as red mud, which is a very toxic and corrosive material.
- At the same time, the steel industry accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions into our atmosphere. But it is a metal with a very high demand.
- Using a process, researchers at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung have managed to convert red mud into liquid iron and rust in just 10 minutes.
- Iron is extracted from there and steel can be made easily.
- It is a toxic procedure, due to the nature of bauxite, but it allows this material to be given a second life, making it a more ecological process.
- It is a very economically viable process, so it is not only important for its ecological nuance.
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