Iron making alternative process demonstrated
The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) announced
that under the leadership of Professor Donald R. Sadoway, a team
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has successfully
demonstrated the technical viability of producing iron by molten
oxide electrolysis (MOE).
As part of the AISI/Department of Energy (DOE)
Technology Roadmap Program (TRP), producing iron in the lab by MOE
represents a significant stride and is a positive signal about the
future of this technology, according to Lawrence W. Kavanagh, AISI
vice president of manufacturing and technology.
“What sets molten oxide electrolysis apart
from other metal producing technologies is that it is totally carbon-free
and, hence, generates no CO2 gases—only oxygen,” said
Kavanagh. “Over the last two decades, steelmakers have reduced
energy utilization per ton by some 28%, and today’s processes
are productive and green—but steelmakers need to and want
to do more—and the development of transformational iron making
technologies such as MOE will make similar achievements possible
over the next two decades as well.”
Unlike other iron making processes, MOE works
by passing an electric current through a liquid solution of iron
oxide. The iron oxide then breaks down into liquid iron and oxygen
gas allowing oxygen to be the main by-product of the process.
MIT will continue experiments to determine how
to increase the rate of iron production and to discover new materials
capable of extending the life of the electrodes to industrially
This work will set the stage for construction
of a pilot scale cell to further validate the viability of the MOE
process and identify scale up parameters.