Articles
Greg Fazekas

SSAB produces fossil-free steel

SSAB Oxelösund recently announced the first batch of fossil-free steel produced using its HYBRIT technology. At Men&Mice, we think sustainability is vital for humanity’s future, and we should pursue it whenever possible.

Aug 26th, 2021

SSAB Oxelösund recently announced the first batch of fossil-free steel produced using its HYBRIT technology. At Men&Mice, we think sustainability is vital for humanity’s future, and we should pursue it whenever possible. This historic achievement from our friends at SSAB has truly inspired us to continue our efforts to drive sustainability in computer networking.

From Zosimos of Panapolis to Hybrit of Sweden

From the dawn of scientific curiosity, humankind has been enchanted by the concept of sustainability. They did not call it such in the times of Zosimos (circa 300 AD) or Albertus Magnus (circa 1200s AD), but what is the fabled Philosopher’s Stone if not the pinnacle of sustainability in its time: creating sustainable wealth by transmuting base metals like iron or mercury into precious metal like gold or silver.

A lot has changed since the alchemists of reality and myth, including the benchmarks we use. Wealth, while still important, is increasingly taking a back seat to the preservation of our environment – and indeed our very survival on this vibrant but fragile blue dot in the sea of dark, cold vacuum.

At a time when the world sorely needs to reduce its carbon (CO2) emissions to keep global warming at the somewhat sustainable level of 1.5°C per year, steel production poses a serious challenge to that goal. The heavy industries are responsible for 40% of global CO2 emissions, and steel production alone for 7%. Steel is one of the most prevailing materials our modern world relies on. It’s used for almost everything built to last: from cars to airplanes, from fixtures to buildings.

Indeed, changing the materials used in steel production amounts to nothing short of a Philosopher’s Stone-esque undertaking (which, in alchemist tradition and as a telling indication of scale, is called ‘Magnum Opus,’ the ‘Great Work’). But, unlike the “real” Philosopher’s Stone, the Hybrit venture succeeded in creating their magnum opus.

Future-proofing steel production

Hybrit, short for “Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology” and owned by SSAB along with the utility company Vattenfall and mining corporation LKAB, has successfully completed decarbonization of the steel production chain by utilizing hydrogen instead of coking coal and changing to renewable electricity. Combined, they proved that:

“[…] it’s possible to make the transition and significantly reduce the global carbon footprint of the steel industry. We hope that this will inspire others to also want to speed up the green transition.” (Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB)

While production is still in its pilot stage, the first delivery of the new steel is on its way to the Volvo Group, which will start using it for prototype parts and vehicles. By 2026, according to SSAB, fossil-free production will reach commercial-scale as they convert their installations to support the new paradigm of making steel. After the first batch of fossil-free steel came out of production, the very first object made out of this space-age Philosopher’s Stone truly represents its ambitions, as designer Lena Bergström explains:

“The candle holder, with its softly pleated rays beaming out from the candle, symbolizes the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a symbol of hope. It truly is… a piece of the future.”

As its devastating effects come into focus more and more, climate change has put the whole world on edge. The future of the planet starts with us: customers, whether individual or corporate, are increasingly making decisions based on values of sustainability. In short, sustainability is both good business and good for business. Whether it is managing networks or producing steel in a sustainable fashion, embracing values and visions beyond the obvious or easy, and opting for building future-proof supply chains instead of relying on throwaway assets benefits us all.

Congratulations, SSAB!