SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean steelmakers are doubling down on hydrogen-related investments, as part of efforts to overcome the ever-toughening environmental regulations as well as to create new growth engines.
Industry experts say that in a situation where the steel industry is stigmatized as being devastating to the environment, the core competitiveness of steel companies will likely depend on their eco-friendly management capabilities leveraging hydrogen technologies.
The companies’ hydrogen investments come in two types. First, they are focused on the construction of hydrogen steel mills that produce molten metal in blast furnaces using hydrogen rather than coal.
At present, a string of global steel companies, including Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp AG are jumping onto the hydrogen steel mill bandwagon.
POSCO and Hyundai Steel Co., South Korea’s two largest steelmakers, joined hands with the government to develop hydrogen steel-making technologies. However, they have not yet confirmed plans to establish hydrogen steel mills.
Second, attempts are being made to sell hydrogen that is extracted from the gases generated during the process of producing steel.
POSCO selected hydrogen as one of its new future businesses in late 2020 and recently set up a hydrogen department.
At present, POSCO is churning out about 3,500 tons of hydrogen at its steel mills in Pohang and Gwangyang every year. The hydrogen is used to cool down steel products at the plants.
POSCO plans to boost its hydrogen production capacity to 70,000 tons by 2025 and intends to sell the hydrogen to others.
Hyundai Steel is on track to complete the construction of a ‘byproduct hydrogen delivery center’ by May. This center will be responsible for supplying hydrogen for use in hydrogen cars.
To strengthen its hydrogen sales and production business, Hyundai Steel also set up a joint venture, HyNet, in collaboration with Hyundai Motor Co. and Hyundai Glovis Co. in October 2020.
J. S. Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)