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Reduction kinetics of hematite powder using argon/hydrogen plasma with prospects for near net shaping of sustainable iron

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Sustainable Materials and Technologies
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Direct reduction of iron ore using hydrogen plasma is being explored as a potential solution to decarbonize the iron and steel sector. The current state-of-the-art demonstrated reduction of hematite pellets via hydrogen plasma using Ar + 10% H2 but had slow reduction kinetics, requiring 30 minutes of plasma exposure for complete reduction. Here we show that using hematite in a powder form, easily obtainable from beneficiated ore, results in 10× faster kinetics using plasma generated from Ar + 2% H2 shielding gas compared to the current state-of-the art. The increased kinetics using powders and a dilute hydrogen concentration can enable the use of advanced manufacturing techniques like blown powder directed energy deposition using a plasma tungsten arc welding torch to manufacture near net shape components directly from the ore concentrates. This ore to part approach will also reduce the emissions associated with downstream processes like rolling, forging, and machining, thereby further aiding in the sectorial decarbonization efforts.