A new plant for the climate-neutral production of iron went into operation in Lingen on Friday. Lower Saxony’s Environment Minister Christian Meyer (Greens) and Lingen Mayor Dieter Krone (independent) pressed the symbolic red button to start a so-called rotary kiln.

According to the operator, the pilot plant will use carbon-neutral hydrogen to produce pig iron from iron ore, which can then be processed into steel. However, green hydrogen will not be available in Lingen immediately, but only in a few months. The Lingen plant will also serve as a test facility for a steel mill planned in Namibia.

The system is a joint project of the start-up company CO2Grab/HyIron, the steel manufacturer Benteler and the energy supplier RWE. The state of Lower Saxony is funding the project with three million euros, said Meyer.

So far, coking coal or natural gas has been used for iron production. However, a lot of carbon dioxide is released in the process. The steel industry is the sector with the highest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions in German industry, said Meyer. It contributes around six percent to total German emissions. “The decarbonization of pig iron production therefore plays a key role, because this is where there is the greatest potential for reducing emissions,” said Meyer.