Steel is essential to the modern world, and its use is critical in enabling man to move towards a sustainable future. Whether in lighter, more efficient vehicles or renewable energy generation, steel is a fundamental part of a greener world. Steel is also necessary for new, highly efficient power stations and the construction of smart electrical grids, transport infrastructure development, energy-efficient residential housing and commercial buildings.
More than 1.6 billion tonnes of steel are produced every year.
Currently, 45% of steel is produced and used in mainland China. There will be continuing growth in the volume of steel produced, particularly in developing areas such as Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, where steel will be vital in raising the welfare of developing societies. In these regions, more than 60% of steel consumption will be used to create new infrastructure.
In the last 50 years, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption per tonne of steel produced by 60%. However, due to this dramatic improvement in energy efficiency, it is estimated that there is little room for further improvement on the basis of existing technology. Keeping total global CO2 emissions at the current level or better depends on the development and introduction of radical new steelmaking technologies with a lower carbon footprint. Many of the technologies that are being researched are associated with carbon capture and storage (CCS), which will require government and public support for implementation.
A critical element in reducing the carbon emissions from the steel life cycle is to optimise the recycling of steel. Steel is an almost unique material in its capacity to be infinitely recycled without loss of properties or performance. This, in combination with a long history of significant efforts to increase recycling rates, has resulted in steel leading the recycling statistics, for example in cars and cans. Policies can provide further support for recycling by placing emphasis on recyclability and design for dismantling.
Cited: World Steel Association
Ashley G. // Editor SMC