This spring sees the launch of the world’s first design project made of fossil-free steel
Nordic and US-based steel company SSAB teams up with Norwegian urban furniture producer Vestre when the former’s HYBRIT project enters the world of interior design.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
March 16, 2023
Today’s modern societies literally rest on a cradle of steel — and the metal’s uses are almost endless — but the coal burned during the production process accounts for seven per cent of the global CO2 emissions. So, a transition to fossil-free steel production will have a great impact.
SSAB’s fossil-free steelmaking technology has developed from the HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) initiative, launched in 2016 together with mining company LKAB and energy company Vattenfall. The technology replaces coal and coke, which are currently used in the blast furnace process, with hydrogen and fossil-free electricity. Later this spring, Vestre will become the first company globally to use fossil-free steel to make a piece of furniture, together with a prominent Scandinavian designer. The new collaboration is following up on the previous development of Vestre Habitats — a project and a series of furniture for the smallest habitat on the planet aiming to preserve and strengthen the biological diversity in our cities — and last year’s opening of The Plus, described as the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory, in Magnor, Norway.
— When we heard about the HYBRIT process, we immediately saw this as a large and important part of our solution for a future with net zero emissions, and quickly reached out to SSAB to order it, Øyvind Bjørnstad, chief sustainability officer, Vestre, explains. Early estimates show that if all our steel were switched to fossil-free, our total footprint would be reduced by around 60 per cent. Our goal is to be a driving force for the demand of the fossil-free alternative, and as the prices of the EU’s mandatory carbon dioxide quotas increase, there will be increased pressure on the steel industry to also reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
— Vestre shares our targets to reduce carbon footprints throughout the value chain and the collaboration also shows the breadth of the areas of use for our fossil-free steel, says Thomas Hörnfeldt, head of sustainable business at SSAB.