Committed to sustainability – GMH Gruppe

Into the future – sustainably

Steel is used not only for its high mechanical strength and exceptional versatility. Its recyclability makes it an important element in our future. Especially when sustainable production methods are used – as at GMH Gruppe.

One of steel’s unique properties: it can be infinitely 100 percent recycled without losses and with no sacrifice of quality, and improves its environmental balance every time. The recycling of iron and steel scrap saves more than a billion tonnes of primary resources, such as iron ore and coal, around the globe, every year – and cuts emissions. Not least of all because these resources then do not need to be transported across long distances. In the EU alone, the recycling of steel scrap every year avoids just on 160 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, of which more than 20 million tonnes in Germany. This is why we use 100 percent steel scrap for the production of our steels. And play a pivotal role in the circular steel economy.

Electric steel means less emissions 

For more than twenty-five years, we have been producing steel in the most sustainable way possible: in the electric arc furnace. There is no method of producing steel with less emissions – the EAF generates five times less CO2 than the blast furnace/converter route. This has enabled us to save 28 million tonnes of CO2 up to now at our Georgsmarienhütte location alone. Plus around another million tonnes less CO2 every succeeding year. This is how, day-by-day, we help in reducing the emissions from our industry. According to German Emissions Trading Authority data, electric steel accounts for 30 percent of crude-steel production in Germany, but causes only 3 percent of the iron and steel industry’s overall emissions.

Thinking ahead for sustainability

Thanks to intensive research, our new, innovative grades of steel incorporate, immediately after their production, properties which would otherwise need to be imparted by means of further processing, such as heat treating or hot forming. The elimination of these production operations saves even more emissions. In addition, thanks to their higher mechanical strength, new steels further benefit the environment. These grades achieve the same performance using significantly less steel. On average, our innovative steels save during their service-lives six times as much CO2 as is caused during the necessary production processes.

Green electricity for green steel

We know we are on the right track, but we nonetheless work every day on reducing our emissions even further. To mention only three examples: the new dedusting installation at our Bous facility is even more efficient and makes the filtered waste-air from the steelplant five times cleaner than legally stipulated. At several of our locations, we feed heat into the district heating system, thus helping to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. The use of byproducts, such as slag, conserves primary materials and thus also saves resources. The most important factor in green steel production is, however, energy supply: as soon as we are able to supply our facilities with green electricity, our emissions will fall by a further two thirds. Europe’s expanding green electricity and hydrogen infrastructure will thus play an important role on our path to climate-neutral steel production.

Future projects

Because: we are thinking not only about tomorrow, but also the day after – and well beyond. One of our future-orientated projects is that of replacing coal with biogenic alternatives; instead of a fossil fuel, agricultural byproducts and waste from the foodstuffs industry will then supply our energy. This will be possible from 2025. Once regenerable electricity becomes available under competitive conditions, we should be able from 2035 onward to convert our reheating and heat-treatment furnaces from natural gas to induction, and to commission, from 2040, a hydrogen electrolyser, which will separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. We will then be able to use the oxygen and part of the hydrogen in our processes and for our equipment, and to feed the rest of the hydrogen into a future Germany-wide hydrogen infrastructure.

Thank you very much.

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Klaus Schmidtke

Head of Communications GMH Gruppe


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