New renewable carbon solution could decarbonise steel industry

renewable carbon

Novel BioCarbon renewable carbon brick product.

BIOCARBON, a manufacturer based in Sydney, has found a viable solution to decarbonise the steel industry via its manufacture of a 100 per cent renewable carbon material that can directly replace fossil carbon in Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) steelmaking. 

BIOCARBON’s new sustainable carbon neutral product will enable steelmakers to decrease their carbon footprint without incurring large capital costs for modifying their equipment or processes. 

The business is set to run a commercial trial of the novel product at Molycop’s steel plant located in Newcastle, Australia. 

The initiative is being supported by the federal government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources through its Entrepreneurs’ Program, which recently awarded BIOCARBON a $293,840 Accelerating Commercialisation grant. 

The initial trial will utilise 75 tonnes of the renewable carbon product (BIOCARBON bricks) in the production of 8,500 tonnes of steel. The University of New South Wales has tested the renewable carbon material for its efficacy and the product underwent an initial trial in Molycop’s EAF ahead of the now full-scale industrial trial set to take place in May. 

renewable carbon
Tim Wilson and Jason Falinski understanding the benefits with Molycop and BioCarbon.

BIOCARBON’s product is made from low value woody biomass streams, which are converted to a high-grade raw carbon product through a thermochemical reaction called pyrolysis. The raw char product produced through this process is high quality with lower ash content and higher carbon content than the fossil coke presently used in EAF steelmaking.  

BIOCARBON has taken out a provisional patent on its novel approach to convert this high-quality carbon product into a form that is similar in nature to the fossil coke that is currently used – that is to increase its density and mechanical strength without using typical binder materials that have no benefit to the chemical steelmaking process. 

The added advantages of this sustainable product include converting a waste stream into a value-added raw material and reducing the volume of timber waste going to landfill. Just in NSW, over 22 million tonnes of woody biomass waste is underutilised annually and this scale of available raw material is well surpassing EAF sector requirements in Australia. 

“The renewable carbon replacement trial at Molycop will demonstrate proof of performance of the product in making green steel at full-scale, against existing fossil carbon metrics,” BIOCARBON CEO Chad Sheppeard said. 

“Coupled with green electricity, a simple change in the choice of consumables for EAF operations worldwide to our product will enable a major segment of the steel sector to become carbon neutral, with the possibility of 100 per cent decarbonisation in the future.” 

Following the success of the trial, BIOCARBON expects to establish commercial product offtake agreements, allowing the business to attract investment and scale its production capacity at a facility at Bulahdelah in the Hunter/Mid North Coast region. Future planning involves scaling to those international markets seeking a solution that BIOCARBON’s technology offers. 

In acknowledging the federal government’s support for the product and upcoming trial, member for Mackellar Jason Falinski said: “The green technological revolution is happening right here on the Northern Beaches. We are proud to be supporting companies like BIOCARBON, taking their innovative technologies to the next level through the commercialisation process.” 

“BIOCARBON is not only improving the quality of our lives through ground-breaking innovation, but also creating new skilled jobs for the Northern Beaches and supporting our economic recovery.”