HBI is the result of a secondary transformation of iron ore. When iron ore is extracted from the ground, it comes in the form of iron oxide. In order to make steel, this iron oxide must first be reduced to iron metal so it can be melted. The traditional way to reduce iron oxide to iron is through a blast furnace using coking coal as a reductant. The process we intend to apply, called Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), uses natural gas to reduce iron ore pellets to highly metalized pellets of iron metal. After the reduced pellets emerge from the shaft furnace, they are hot and malleable. They are then compressed hydraulically into briquettes called Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI). These briquettes are about twice the size of an ordinary charcoal briquette domestically used for barbecuing and weigh about one kilogram each.
It is important to note that our HBI manufacturing process will primarily use natural gas. In addition to obtaining a high-quality product, the use of this process will significantly reduce the environmental footprint and CO2 emissions of the project compared to plants using coal-powered blast furnaces.
In this regard, recent work by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission shows that using natural gas for the transformation of iron ore to steel emits between 20% and 25% less CO2 than the classic process based on blast furnaces.
Apart from being cleaner than other reduction processes, HBI also presents the following advantages:
- Much cleaner in terms of emission of dust or other types of gas
- Lower water consumption
- Contains no scrap metal or undesirable chemical elements
- High bulk density
- High thermal and electrical conductivity
- Known and consistent chemistry
- Low reactivity with fresh and salt water