Analysis of the potential for energy demand and carbon emissions reduction in the iron and steel sector

Paul W. Griffin, Geoffrey P. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

18 Citations (SciVal)


The opportunities and challenges to reducing industrial energy demand and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the iron & steel sector are evaluated with a focus is on the situation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), although the lessons learned are applicable across much of the industrialised world. It is the largest industrial sector in the UK in terms of energy demand and 'greenhouse gas' (GHG) emissions, and accounts for some 26% of GHG emissions from British industry. Current Best Available Technologies (BAT) will lead to short-term energy and CO2 emissions savings in iron & steel processing, but the prospects for the commercial exploitation of innovative technologies by mid-21st century are far more speculative. The blast furnace is the most efficient energy conversion process in the sector, but also the largest energy user and consequently is a priority target for energy demand reduction. Many existing technologies, that have yet to be adopted, could reduce a significant proportion of process energy loss. These include, among others, heat recovery at the coke ovens, sinter plant, and electric arc furnace, and further heat and gas recovery from the basic oxygen furnace. The uptake of key BAT technologies for hot-rolling could reduce sector primary energy by 18% and GHG emissions by 12%. Further potential may be available for blast furnace operation by optimising chemical transfer to minimise blast furnace gas (BFG) production. Nevertheless, there are a number of non-technological barriers to the take-up of such technologies going forward. The transition to a low carbon future in UK industry by 2050 will therefore exhibit rather large uncertainties. The attainment of significant falls in carbon emissions over this period will depends critically on the adoption of a small number of key technologies [e.g., energy efficiency techniques, fuel switching towards bioenergy, and carbon capture and storage (CCS),], alongside the decarbonisation of national electricity supply. Other radical process technological innovations (such as the 'electrowinning' or so-called HISARNA process) are likely to be available in the longer term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3915-3922
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Event10th International Conference on Applied Energy, ICAE 2018 - Hong Kong, China
Duration: 22 Aug 201825 Aug 2018


  • Carbon accounting
  • Enabling technologies
  • Improvement potential
  • Industrial energy analysis
  • Iron steel
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy


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