SSAB , LKAB and Vattenfall have now put HYBRIT’s pilot plant for storing fossil-free hydrogen in Luleå into operation. The Bergrum storage facility is the first of its kind in the world for storing fossil-free hydrogen. Now the two-year test period until 2024 begins, which means that HYBRIT has taken another important step in the development of the combined value chain for fossil-free iron and steel production.
After the inauguration of the pilot warehouse in June, initial pressure tests were carried out with water which confirmed the facility’s mechanical stability, tightness and pressure capacity. The bearing has then been filled with hydrogen gas and also reached the maximum operating pressure of 250 bar. The commissioning of the pilot plant in Svartöberget has shown that the warehouse functions according to design and meets all safety requirements.
– That this technology now works is very gratifying and an important milestone in the development of a fossil-free value chain for ore-based iron and steel production. The use of large-scale hydrogen storage means that the industry can get a more robust and more predictable hydrogen supply from fossil-free electricity even when the electricity system becomes more dependent on the weather. We can thus use our fossil-free wind power production very efficiently and store the hydrogen gas when it is very windy, says Mikael Nordlander, Development Manager for Vattenfall’s industrial collaborations.
– It is very positive that the hydrogen storage pilot has been launched and that the technology has so far worked as it should. This is another important sub-goal. Now we will complete the plan with test campaigns and collect important data and knowledge to enable a full-scale plant, says Martin Pei, CTO at SSAB.
– Hydrogen and storage are central to our transition. Already in four years, the HYBRIT technology for the production of fossil-free sponge iron will begin to be used on a large scale in a first demonstration plant in Gällivare. LKAB will become one of Europe’s largest hydrogen producers, and this pilot provides valuable knowledge for the continued work of creating the world’s first fossil-free value chain in the iron and steel industry, says Lars Ydreskog, director of strategic projects at LKAB.
The technology for storing gas in an embedded rock chamber underground (LRC) means that the gas is stored in a rock chamber whose walls are covered with a sealing layer. LRC is well proven for natural gas, but the pilot plant in Luleå is the first in the world to test the technology for repeated filling and emptying with hydrogen gas.
The pilot plant has a size of 100 cubic metres, and at a later stage it may become relevant to store 100,000 to 120,000 cubic meters of pressurized hydrogen gas in storage. In that case, this means that you can store up to 100 GWh of electricity converted to hydrogen gas, which is enough to supply a full-sized sponge iron factory for about three to four days.
The HYBRIT initiative was started in 2016 by the three owners SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall. The hydrogen storage has a very important function in the overall value chain for fossil-free iron and steel production. By producing fossil-free hydrogen when there is a lot of electricity, for example when it is very windy, and using stored hydrogen when the electricity system is strained, stable production of sponge iron, the raw material for future fossil-free steel, is ensured.