Startups and industries worldwide are doing their part in decarbonizing one of the most carbon extensive industries- Steel Manufacturing.

Did you know that in the year 2021, close to 2 billion metric tons of crude steel were manufactured globally? And for every ton produced, 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide was released into the air.

 2 trillion dollars worth of steel manufacturing is humongous but extensively carbon-dominated. This poses a life-threatening danger to humans today and will be the dominant force in the human race extinction in the near future.

Hence, a small but reliable technology- Green Steel, has made its debut in recent years to combat the catastrophe of carbon poisoning in nature. Green steel, simply put, is steel that has the minimum possible carbon footprint. This 84-million-dollar industry is still similar to a young, fresh intern, who is full of potential but needs a gentle push in harvesting its potential to the fullest, and that is exactly what featured startups in this article ought to do. These “power rangers” are playing their part in continuously scouring and innovating alternatives to conventional steel. This piece is drafted under the light to inspire to support these change-makers and BE the change-makers.

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Map the scrap:

The concept of green steel manufacturing was revolutionalized by an Indian origin, materials engineer, and innovator, Veena Sahajwalla, who put “green’ in the steel by creating steel from scrap rubber tyres.

It was the year 2003 when Veena figured out the revolutionary formula in green steel manufacturing. Skyrocketing prices of conventional resources and piling heaps of scrap in Mumbai, India, is what brainstormed this material scientist into creating something that not only bagged her international fame and glory but also laid the foundation for innovation in “eco-friendly manufacturing.”

She is rightly described as the “First lady of Green Steel Manufacturing” by Waste management review.

Veena Sahajwalla is the director of “The SMaRT Centre” at the University of New South Whales (UNSW) in Australia. She and her team are pioneers in waste recycling technology. For example, she is the brain behind the technology that converts “rubber tyres” into steel.

Even so, in 2005, Veena was awarded Eureka Prize for Scientific Research and the 2006 Environmental Technology Award from the Association of Iron & Steel Technology in the United States.

Conventionally, steel is produced in a furnace, which uses coal, hydrogen or electricity as fuel. Globally, around 70% of steel manufacturing is undertaken by Coal as primary fuel, the other 30% employees’ hydrogen and electricity, but the source of electricity generation might again be coal! And that is where the major dependence on coal for steel manufacturing comes from.

This issue is tackled by UNSW SMaRT Centre’s next-gen innovation, which has patented green steel polymer injection, which converts rubber tyres into hydrogen. This hydrogen is then supplied to the furnace as usual. This technology has the potential to replace coke and coal in steel manufacturing and further elevate the maximum achievable efficiency in doing so.

The idea is not just to use rubber for steel manufacturing but to change the fuel narrative altogether. And hence, not just rubber tyres but coffee grounds and plastics also have front-row tickets.

The dream Project:

The global steel-making process contributes to more than 7% of global carbon emissions. Reducing the CO2 emission by more than 95%, this company aims to produce 

5 million tones of “green steel” every year, easing the carbon burden on the planet.

Sweden-based H2 Green Steel aims to avoid 0.3 billion tonnes of CO2, equal to 1% of current human emissions, in the air by the end of 2040. How to achieve that?

The plan is simple. Set up a green hydrogen manufacturing facility backed by renewable energy. The facility will generate electricity from renewable sources, such as sun and wind, which will power a gigantic steel-producing furnace and produce hydrogen for the fuel in the furnace. The plant is set to deliver on the dream by 2025 in Boden, Sweden. (image)

A few days back, the company signed a merger with Swedish software company Mobilaris to look into the technicalities of software integration in the manufacturing facility.

By the end of October 2022, the company had secured 260 million euro investment for its dream project from investors such as Mercedes-Benz, Scania, and IMAS Foundation, an organization linked to Ikea.

Other companies that are experimenting with the similar idea are:

  • ArcelorMittal
  • Thyssenkrupp
  • Salzgitter AG in Germany
  • Posco in South Korea
  • Voestalpine in Austria.

Iron extraction without carbon?

Steel is essentially a proportionate combination (alloy) of iron and coke. Their extraction from their ores (natural state of existence) releases carbon dioxideTargeting the CO2 released during this process, a startup company in Boston, USA, aims to change the narrative.

Named “Boston Metal”, the company uses molten oxide electrolysis, which uses electricity to separate iron from its iron ore, making extraction completely carbon-free. And since steel's market share is expected to rise by a third till mid-century, the company is lightening the load from mother earth.

The company, at present, is running a pilot facility in Woburn, USA and developing commercial technology for mass-scale production. The company has been able to raise multiple investments over the years. In 2019, the company backed an investment of 20 million dollars from Bill gates owned Energy ventures fund in 2019 and 2021, bagged close to 60 million dollars in investment. Other than Bill Gates's funding venture, BMW assisted “BMW I Ventures”, which also piqued their interest in Boston Metals.

Most manufacturing startups are extensively experimenting with electricity or hydrogen-based low-carbon technologies. However, while most of these are still on the threshold, only a few have commercialized their way into “much-needed revolution”.

In addition to these pioneers, other companies that are gradually making an impact in the arena are:

  • Carbon clean solutionsNovacem
  • CarbonCure technologies
  • Lanzatech
  • BlueScope

Witnessing the ever-rising potential of “Green Steel” and the urgency to ditch conventional steelmaking, even conventional steel-making giants are committed to making the transition slowly.

Take ArcelorMittal, for example, which has announced plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The company invests in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, hydrogen-based steelmaking, and direct reduced iron (DRI) production. Likewise, Nucor, the largest steel producer in the United States, has committed to the same dream.

Other than that, SSAB, a leading producer of high-strength steel, aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.


Thyssenkrupp, Nucor, JSW Steel and POSCO are investing in green steel manufacturing technology, including hydrogen-based steelmaking, CCS technology and advanced recycling technologies. In contrast, startups such as Carbon Clean SolutionsLanzaTech, H2 Green Steel, Energiron, BlueScope and the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) are also developing innovative solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of the steel industry.

What is worth noting is that achieving green steel production is a complex and multifaceted task that requires the collaboration of various stakeholders, including governments, industry, and research institutions. However, with the efforts of these pioneers, we can be hopeful for a greener and more sustainable steel industry in the future.

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