We are delighted to announce that two of our research projects in ARENA’s recent Iron and Steel R&D Round, have received funding to expand and accelerate their impact to reduce emissions from Australia’s iron and steel supply chain.

This marks a significant achievement for HILT CRC and two of our Core university partners Curtin University and the Australian National University. The ARENA funding secured for these projects will advance research and innovation on behalf of our iron and steel industry partners Grange Resources, Liberty, Fortescue and Roy Hill by developing technology to upgrade iron ore quality for direct reduced ironmaking (DRI) via leaching, using reagents from seawater reverse osmosis brines, and de-risking the use of hydrogen with lower-grade Pilbara iron ores in fluidised bed direct reduced ironmaking.

Upgrading Iron Ore for DRI Production Using Seawater Reverse Osmosis (RO) Brines

This HILT CRC-led ARENA project is leveraging the HILT CRC Project RP1.011: The upgrading of iron ore for DRI production using products from seawater RO brines led by Professor Jacques Eksteen and Dr Lina Hockaday from Curtin University. Additional financial and in-kind support for the project was also received from The Minerals Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), Curtin University and HILT CRC.

When producing iron ore for direct reduced iron (DRI), achieving high-grade material is highly beneficial. Alkaline leaching of impurities, under appropriate operating conditions, presents a unique solution to upgrading iron ore sourced from the Pilbara region.

The project aims to improve commercial viability of low-grade iron ore beneficiation through generation of reagents and valuable by-products from seawater RO brines. It will deliver the following outcomes:

  1. Reduction in cost associated with using lower-grade Australian iron ores in low emissions DRI production through development of a hydrometallurgical caustic leaching process to upgrade iron ore using the reagents derived from seawater RO brines.
  2. Increased research capacity in the Australian iron and steel sector, and the facilitation of collaboration between research groups and industry.
  3. Improved commercial viability of low-grade iron ore beneficiation through generation of valuable by products from waste RO brines derived from desalination of seawater for hydrogen production or other purposes.

De-risking Large-Scale Australian Fine-Ore Hydrogen Ironmaking

Led by Australian National University and Associate Professor John Pye, this ARENA project is leveraging the approved HILT CRC Project: RP1.012 Prevention of Sticking in H2 fluidised bed DRI production.

This project looks at end-to-end processes for producing green steel from primarily lower-grade Pilbara iron ore fines, where fluidised bed hydrogen direct reduced ironmaking (DRI) is assumed as the main reduction step, and aims to address a range of risks that could impact the future technological and commercial advancement of green steel processing using Australian ores. The project examines reduction kinetics, fluidised bed reactor designs, and some novel processes for briquetting or smelting the resulting DRI particles, and overall process techno-economics. Outcomes will include reactor designs, experimental proofs of concept and component and system-level models, as well as professional pre-feasibility studies of the most prospective concepts.

Across these two projects, our collaborations with ARENA, Curtin University, Australian National University, The University of Adelaide, The University of Newcastle and our industry partners demonstrates a coordinated effort to tackle challenges and explore opportunities in the field of low emissions iron and steel. These projects have the potential to contribute significantly to the advancement of the technological solutions required for low-carbon products to bring us closer to net zero.

More details about the ARENA Iron and Steel R&D funding round can be found here.

For more information on HILT CRC’s research projects contact: admin@hiltcrc.com.au

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