Invention Reference Number
Due to climate change, there is an immediate need to reduce carbon emissions from the steel-making industry. About 7% of global greenhouse gasses come from the iron and steel manufacturing industry. The industry standard uses carbon-rich coke to reduce iron ore. A new innovative technology would decarbonize the steel-making industry through additive manufacturing using only electricity and hydrogen gas to reduce iron ore into near net shape iron/steel. The invention provides direct reduction of iron ore to fabricate near net shape components by mounting a plasma arc welding torch on a robotic head, eliminating emissions into the atmosphere.
This invention consists of a large-scale additive manufacturing system that utilizes a plasma arc welding torch to reduce iron ore to near net shaped iron/steel using commercially available argon and hydrogen shielding gas. State-of-the-art technology requires coke or some sort of carbon form to reduce iron oxide. No carbon is needed in this process to reduce the iron ore. This technology can 3D print the needed shape without downstream processing steps like forging and rolling currently employed in the iron/steel making process. During hydrogen plasma reduction, a plasma arc is generated between an electrode and the iron ore. The plasma arc not only melts the iron ore but also ionizes the hydrogen molecule. The ionized hydrogen plasma creates a high heat that enables melt reduction of iron ore into iron. By mounting the plasma torch on an additive manufacturing robotic head, near net shape components can be made directly. The technology ultimately improves supply chain stability for clean energy applications, and helps reach the nation’s clean energy goals in reducing climate change.
Applications and Industries
- Decarbonizes the steel-making industry
- Reduces time needed to reduce iron ore
- Saves time and money in iron ore processing