A true collaboration of the best minds in industry, research and government, working together for a low-carbon heavy industry.
Our approach is problem-solving research that can be adopted by industry. Our collaborative structure means that our teams of researchers are strongly aligned with industry to focus research on the practical challenges that companies face to de-risk the technology pathways to decarbonise heavy industry.
Three Research Programs have been developed across Processing Technologies, Cross-Cutting Technologies and Facilitating Transformation.
This research program will accelerate carbon footprint reduction in industrial processes with preferred emerging technologies, including, producing green iron products from magnetite, producing green iron products from Pilbara ores, green alumina calcination, and low-carbon lime, cement and alumina. It will also provide new understanding of ways to de-risk the large investments needed to transform energy intensive processes, while directly supporting the development and demonstration of emerging technologies.
1.01 Decarbonise production of green iron products from magnetite ores
Technologies, data and demonstration at sufficient scale to support end-use adoption of products, such as:
- Low-carbon induration routes, including partial to full replacement of natural gas with hydrogen and electrically generated heat.
- Increased domestic pre-processing of magnetite concentrate prior to export.
- Unlocking new ore-bodies through low-carbon processing routes using low-carbon heat sources (hydrogen, electrification or solar thermal.
- New methods to lower the energy requirements and CO2 intensity for beneficiation, calcining and induration for Green Pellets (BF and DRI), spanning blending, use of renewables and hydrogen.
1.02 Low-carbon iron exports from Pilbara ores
Processes developed and demonstrated at sufficient scale to support Pilbara DSO producers to:
- Increase the grade of current DSO using low-carbon energy to reduce emissions with blast furnace iron making.
- Manufacture products suitable for direct reduction and alternative iron making routes using low-carbon fuel and energy inputs, including hydrogen and electrification.
- Exploit renewable energy options for onshore processing to minimise Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
1.03 Low-carbon alumina – calcination
Low-carbon heat input approaches and technologies for the high-temperature (>1000ºC) calcination component of alumina production such as:
- Fuel replacement options in existing calciners, e.g. replacing natural gas with hydrogen or other solar-derived fuels such as ammonia.
- Electrification alternatives e.g. plasma, microwave, resistive or radiative heating.
- Novel high-temperature solar thermal approaches using new calciner technology that is already under development through an ARENA project.
- At scale trials and demonstration in partnership with end-user and technology partners.
- Plan for development and commercialisation of new IP.
1.04 Low-carbon alumina – Bayer process
Low-carbon heat input approaches and technologies for the low-temperature (<300ºC) hydrometallurgical component of alumina production, i.e. the production of low carbon steam using approaches such as:
- Fuel replacement options e.g. hydrogen, ammonia or solar thermal.
- Direct electrification of steam generation using renewable energy.
- Enhanced heat recovery e.g. using renewable energy for the adoption of vapour recompression technologies.
- Development and demonstration of heat storage facilities suitable for generating a constant heat flux (steam) for the scale of an alumina refinery.
- Tools and technologies to accommodate a variable input of renewable energy sources at scale.
1.05 Technologies and methods for production of low-carbon construction materials
Methods, data and technologies to de-risk production of:
- Low-carbon or carbon-negative construction materials, either cementitious or aggregates.
- Low-carbon cement blends, such as calcined clays.
This research program provides opportunities for partners in multiple sectors to share costs and determine how to best mitigate CO2 derived from the processes themselves. The goal of this program is to develop and demonstrate novel technologies that have economic potential to lower carbon intensity through low-carbon heat, fuels, oxidants and reductants.
2.01 Technology and methods to manage variable sources of renewable electrical energy within a process
Technology to manage variable sources of renewable electrical energy within a process, including:
- Modelling tools for both thermal and electrical components, particularly for aluminium smelters, to provide digital twin(s). Other tools of more generic relevance will be used to assist in implementing and managing more turn down within other plants, which can be used and customised by partners.
- System control and decision-making strategies that optimise the use of variable electricity, hydrogen, energy storage (both thermal and electrical), and concentrated solar thermal energy.
- Demonstration at sufficient scale to enable de-risking of commercial implementation of flexible aluminium smelter pots: enabling their turn-up and down by +/- 30%.
- Training and upskilling to support the adaptation of the digital twin outputs, technology and tools developed for application to specific plants of the partners.
2.02 New technology to accommodate multiple energy sources and offer flexibility in switching between them
New technology and methods to accommodate multiple variable energy sources with flexibility to balance availability while minimising cost and CO2 emissions.
- Technology for low-carbon steam generation at industrial scale, using solar thermal, hydrogen, and/or electricity, such as mechanical vapour recompression.
- New electrification and hydrogen combustion technology, e.g., replacing conventional burners with hybrid thermal plasmas and hydrogen flames, for iron pellet kilns and alumina calciners.
- Other hybrid sources of high-temperature heat (>800ºC), including other electrification pathways and solar thermal. This will identify suitable niche applications where these technologies can deliver benefits and then support their upscaling and demonstration, considering retrofit applications first and then greenfield adoption.
2.03 Integrated CO2 capture and re-use technologies and methods for industrial processes
The expected output of this activity is an industrial scale demonstration of an integrated carbon capture and re-use pathway from target industrial processes, such as lime and cement. In particular CO2 capture from a lime/cement kiln is a primary target, with lime also being used in the manufacture of alumina and iron/steel. However, other opportunities for CO2 capture and re-use in alumina and iron production will also be evaluated.
This stream will assess and advance TRL of CO2 utilisation technology including conversion to fuels, use in the agriculture sector, as a feedstock for plastics via commodity products such as methanol and via mineral carbonation to produce alternative construction materials.
2.04 Blending of alternative low-carbon fuels for current high temperature processes
Development and adaptation of technology to accommodate new blends of low carbon fuels into existing industrial processes to reduce carbon emission.
- Development and adaptation of commercially available burner technology to enable increased penetration of low-net-carbon fuels, e.g. those derived from ‘waste’.
- Development of technologies and expertise in production, handling and utilisation of these alternative fuels to enable their utilisation both in current and future high temperature processes.
- Rapid deployment and modest carbon reduction using existing infrastructure and adapted commercially available equipment, while capitalising on low grade fuels – mostly beneficial to cement and iron manufacturing but potentially applicable to other processes such as alumina and lime.
- Reduction in materials presently going to landfill and establishment of supply chains and jobs in the resource recovery sector.
2.05 Technologies to lower carbon emissions through synergistic production of industrial chemicals and fuels
Developing new and adopting current technologies that provide synergies between carbon emission reduction and production of valuable chemicals and fuels. The adaptation of such new technologies will help in maintaining market competitiveness and reaping benefits from new and innovative technologies.
- Techno-economic and CO2 assessment of the relative merit of target chemical and industrial processes to identify those with strong potential, considering:
- Co-production and utilisation of oxygen and hydrogen as the products of water splitting
- Co-production technology of H2SO4 and H2 through the Hys Cycle
- Production of caustic soda from lime and sea-water
- Upscaling and demonstration of target processes toward commercial scale.
This program will assess the best ways to bring HILT CRC’s technologies to market. Questions such as where to establish new processes, which technology options make the most sense and how best to transition are multidimensional and complex.
HILT CRC will create and evaluate alternative pathways, drawing on process specific techno-economic evaluations of the process and the larger systems in which they operate.
3.01 Industry roadmaps and transition strategies
- Transition roadmaps for the iron/steel, cement/lime, alumina/aluminium industries and the heavy industry sector, as a whole.
- A set of transition strategic documents that provide guidance to government, industry and community and include low carbon sustainability of:
- Low carbon/zero carbon production staging to 2030/2050
- Low carbon energy use and hybrid energy technologies
- Industry ‘green export’ development
- Circular economy waste product and resource input opportunities
- Regulatory and policy support
- Co-investment opportunities
3.02 Supply chain development, commercial pathways, commercialisation benefit assessment
The commercial and sustainability assessment of new low carbon production and energy options are essential outputs for Program 3.
- Domestic Markets: Fully documented and described supply and value chain assessments with consideration of policy options and regulatory environments for the production of low-carbon materials for local markets to position local industry at a competitive advantage.
- Export Markets: Fully documented and described supply and value chain assessments with consideration of policy options for production of low-carbon materials for export markets that provide the local industry with a competitive advantage relative to international alternatives, together with an evaluation of broader economic, social and environmental benefits.
- Papers and reports that provide detailed analysis of the broader benefits (local, regional and national) in jobs, self-sufficiency, social impact and sustainability.
3.03 Sustainability assessments, community engagement and sustainability leadership
- Sustainability assessments of environmental, economic and social impacts of technology developments to enable low-carbon production by heavy industry of steel, value-added iron ore and iron products, alumina, cement, low carbon construction materials from heavy industry by-products and alternative carbon products derived from CO2 capture and re-use.
- Community co-design heavy industry decarbonisation governance frameworks.
- Heavy industry decarbonisation governance frameworks co-designed with industry.
- Report on stakeholder perceptions and expectations of heavy industry in terms of sustainability governance and leadership.
Our Research Strategy was developed in close consultation with our partners across the heavy industrial sector in Australia and overseas, and identifies outputs, pathways and prioritised focus areas which can be used to drive the development of projects and contribute to the planning for infrastructure.