Revolutionizing the Steel Industry: ArcelorMittal Invests in Canadian Cleantech Startup CHAR Technologies

The steel industry has long been known for its significant carbon emissions, making it a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. However, a Canadian cleantech startup, CHAR Technologies Ltd., is poised to change that narrative. In a groundbreaking move, the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal Ltd., has invested in CHAR Technologies, recognizing the company’s potential to revolutionize the steelmaking process. This article delves into the partnership between ArcelorMittal and CHAR Technologies, exploring the innovative technology involved and the environmental impact it aims to achieve.

ArcelorMittal’s commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 has led to the establishment of the XCarb Innovation Fund. This fund was created to support startups that are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions in the steelmaking industry. CHAR Technologies has become the first Canadian company to receive funding from this groundbreaking initiative. The XCarb Innovation Fund will invest $6.6 million in CHAR Technologies, acquiring 11 million of the company’s TSX Venture Exchange-listed shares.

At the core of CHAR Technologies’ innovation is its high temperature pyrolysis (HTP) technology. This cutting-edge process allows the conversion of forestry waste products into various renewable energy products, including biocoal. Biocoal has the potential to replace metallurgical coal in the steelmaking process, significantly reducing carbon emissions. What sets HTP apart is its autothermal nature, meaning it requires no external heat sources and even generates excess energy, making the final product carbon-negative.

CHAR Technologies has been collaborating with Hamilton-based Dofasco, an ArcelorMittal-owned company, since 2017. Their joint efforts aim to develop alternatives to metallurgical coal in the steelmaking process. As the industry transitions from traditional blast furnaces to electric arc furnaces, the need for metallurgical coal decreases significantly. By switching to an arc furnace, Dofasco can utilize biocoal produced by CHAR Technologies, allowing for a complete replacement of traditional coal.

The steelmaking industry is notorious for its carbon-intensive operations, contributing nearly one-tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the adoption of innovative technologies, such as CHAR Technologies’ biocoal, can bring about a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The switch from blast furnaces to electric arc furnaces has already been shown to reduce emissions by approximately 75%. By replacing metallurgical coal with biocoal, the carbon footprint of the steel industry can be further reduced, moving closer to achieving carbon neutrality.

To meet the growing demand for biocoal, CHAR Technologies is establishing a facility in Thorold, Ontario. Set to commence production in early 2024, this facility will play a crucial role in scaling up the production of biocoal. Dofasco has already committed to purchasing the first 5,000 tonnes of annual production from the Thorold facility. What makes the Thorold facility unique is its utilization of forest byproducts and forestry residuals, ensuring a sustainable and diverse feedstock for biocoal production. Additionally, the facility plans to incorporate used shipping pallets as part of its feedstock, further enhancing its environmental sustainability.

ArcelorMittal’s XCarb Innovation Fund has attracted numerous proposals from around the world since its inception. However, the fund has been highly selective, investing in only seven companies globally to date. CHAR Technologies’ inclusion in this prestigious group is a testament to its groundbreaking technology and the potential to transform the steelmaking industry. The fund not only provides financial support but also paves the way for future collaborations and partnerships, creating a network of innovative solutions for carbon reduction in steel production.

The partnership between ArcelorMittal and CHAR Technologies marks a significant milestone in the quest for a sustainable future. By investing in groundbreaking cleantech solutions, the steel industry can reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the global efforts in combating climate change. CHAR Technologies’ high temperature pyrolysis technology provides a viable alternative to traditional coal, enabling the steel industry to transition towards a greener and more sustainable future. With the Thorold facility on the horizon, the production of biocoal is set to scale, offering a concrete pathway to achieving carbon neutrality in steelmaking.

The investment by ArcelorMittal in CHAR Technologies demonstrates a shared commitment to transforming the steel industry into a beacon of sustainability. Through the utilization of high temperature pyrolysis technology and the production of biocoal, the carbon emissions associated with steelmaking can be significantly reduced. This partnership not only showcases the potential of cleantech startups but also serves as an inspiration for other industries to embrace innovative solutions in their quest for a sustainable future. As CHAR Technologies continues to revolutionize the steel industry, the world moves closer to a more environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral future.

First reported by The Globe and Mail.