On Tuesday, Italian listed industrial giant Maire Tecnimont announced (via its wholly owned green energy subsidiary NextChem) that it is embarking on a new venture with pan-European plantmaker Paul Wurth, now fully owned by German metals giant SMS Group, on a venture to promote electrolysis and syngas technologies to reduce carbon emissions in the iron and steel industry.
NextChem and Paul Wurth will jointly develop technologies to convert natural gas into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen called syngas (synthesis gas), to be used in lieu of some fossil fuel in the reduction of iron ore. By introducing electrolysis technology to make hydrogen in the syngas production process, NextChem and Paul Wurth hope to enable low-carbon steel to be manufactured at a reasonable cost. The companies say that bringing green hydrogen into the metallurgical process further reduces coke consumption, cutting the overall carbon footprint of steel plants.
“Integrating electrolysis in the revamping of steel furnaces is one of the most interesting challenges nowadays,” Maire Tecnimont/NextChem CEO Pierroberto Folgiero said in announcing the deal on Tuesday. “We are really proud of this agreement, which strengthens the existing alliance between Maire Tecnimont and Paul Wurth to develop low carbon impact solutions in a hard-to-abate sector like the steel industry.”
The agreement with Paul Wurth is the latest in a flurry of collabs for NextChem in recent weeks. Last week, Maire Tecnimont announced that NextChem won a contract from TotalEnergies to engineer a plant in Grandpuit, France with annual production capacity of 400,000 tons of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). That deal is part of a larger project to convert the old Grandpuits Refinery into a zero-crude platform, called “Projet Galaxie,” that will include a Bio Refinery where NextChem is already working on Europe’s first plant to produce compostable and biodegradable plastics.
And late last month, Maire Tecnimont/NextChem unveiled an agreement with Greek industrial conglomerate MYTILINEOS to conduct feasibility studies for a joint green hydrogen plant in Italy. If realized, the project will convert renewable energy from a MYTILINEOS solar plant into green hydrogen, providing local off-takers with a carbon neutral carrier alternative for decarbonization in hard-to-abate industries.