Electra, a green iron company, has raised $85 million to produce Low-Temperature Iron (LTI) from commercial and low-grade ores using zero-carbon intermittent electricity. Electra’s process emits zero carbon dioxide emissions and carries zero green premium, meaning it will cost the same or less than existing production methods powered by fossil fuels.
Electra, founded by entrepreneurs with decades of experience developing complex electrochemical systems, has created a novel process to electrochemically refine iron ore into pure iron at 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) using renewable electricity and then convert the iron to steel using the existing infrastructure of electricity-powered arc furnaces. By comparison, 69% of steel today is made at approximately 1,600 degrees Celsius (2,912 degrees Fahrenheit) using coal, emitting about two tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of steel produced.
Electra’s Oxygen-Decoupled Electrolysis (ODE) process overcomes two interconnected challenges for the steel industry:
Decarbonizing Steelmaking: The steel industry produces 1.9 billion metric tons of crude steel and causes 3.7 gigatons of direct and indirect carbon dioxide emissions annually, or 10% of the global total. If the steel industry were a country, its carbon emissions would rank third in the world behind China and the United States. Conversion of iron ore into iron accounts for 90% of steelmaking emissions that may be eliminated using Electra’s process.
The “Iron Ore Challenge”: Commercial iron ores with iron content of 62% or higher are projected to be in short supply by the early 2030s. Hydrogen or natural gas-based steelmaking requires ores with the highest iron content at 67% or above, making the cost and ore supply challenge even more acute for these processes. Electra’s process intakes lower-grade ores with iron content as low as 35% without the additional cost of grinding, beneficiation, and pelletization, enabling zero green premium and a more diverse iron ore supply chain.
Courtesy of Electra.