21 July 2023

ZEN Energy has announced its intent to make Green Iron and Green Iron co-product manufacturing real in Australia. ZEN’s Green Iron Initiative will enable a successful, commercial scale green iron plant in Australia, with an initial focus on South Australia, on an early timetable.

“ZEN’s team is identifying the best green iron process solutions for Australia. We are seeking, through targeted partnerships, to help supply the renewable electricity, green hydrogen, materials, process and site requirements for the earliest successful green iron plant development”, said ZEN CEO, Anthony Garnaut. “Preferred sites in South Australia and in Western Australia have been identified, with access to renewable power at globally competitive rates, as well as transport, utilities and feed materials”.

Last year, the global steel industry produced close to 2 billion tonnes of steel, releasing over 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, about 9 percent of global emissions. Most of these emissions are released during the ironmaking stage.

Australia contributes approximately 28% of the iron ore and 6% of the metallurgical coal used in world steel production. Most major steel producers have committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. “Within this changing landscape, Australia is well placed to be a leading producer of green iron at the scale needed to support a globally competitive, low emission business ecosystem”, added Garnaut.

The critical, immediate requirement to enable the production of green iron and co-products is the reliable supply of substantial amounts of renewable electricity, which is used to create green hydrogen as the primary reduction agent in place of fossil fuel sourced agents, as well as for direct use in the process. ZEN has the expertise to develop staged solutions for firmed renewable energy supply that meets the requirements and timelines for this project.

“We have established networks with operating renewable assets, as well as critical stakeholders across the globe needed for renewable asset development. ZEN has already executed innovative agreements, enabling us to optimise renewable assets performance within Australia”.

ZEN is actively exploring many potential approaches as part of the Green Iron Initiative. These include process options at different levels of technology readiness, that vary in the absolute through-process carbon mitigation potential. These options differ also in the inputs and feed material types and grades, as well as the process efficiency, output rate and form of products made.

While the Green Iron Initiative is technology agnostic – it is not yet clear what are the most efficient pathways to produce green iron at scale – ZEN is currently evaluating a novel green iron process route, incorporating renewable electricity and green hydrogen in an electric smelting furnace step, using a variety of potential Australian sourced ferrous feeds. Theoretical process design calculations have been performed and are being validated through pilot scale test work and an intellectual property application has been lodged. This work is being undertaken by ZEN and builds on a collaboration between Mr. Wang Jun (with more than 40 years steelmaking experience) and Mr. John Tsalapatis (General Manager of ZEN’s Green Iron Initiative, who has over 35 years of ironmaking experience), and metallurgical research conducted by a pre-eminent research institution.