Publications

Influence of microstructure and atomic-scale chemistry on the direct reduction of iron ore with hydrogen at 700°C

Kim, S.-H. and Zhang, X. and Ma, Y. and Souza Filho, I.R. and Schweinar, K. and Angenendt, K. and Vogel, D. and Stephenson, L.T. and El-Zoka, A.A. and Mianroodi, J.R. and Rohwerder, M. and Gault, B. and Raabe, D.

ACTA MATERIALIA
Volume: 212 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.actamat.2021.116933
Published: 2021

Abstract
Steel is the most important material class in terms of volume and environmental impact. While it is a sustainability enabler, for instance through lightweight design, magnetic devices, and efficient turbines, its primary production is not. Iron is reduced from ores by carbon, causing 30% of the global CO2 emissions in manufacturing, qualifying it as the largest single industrial greenhouse gas emission source. Hydrogen is thus attractive as alternative reductant. Although this reaction has been studied for decades, its kinetics is not well understood, particularly during the wüstite reduction step which is much slower than hematite reduction. Some rate-limiting factors of this reaction are determined by the microstructure and local chemistry of the ores. Here, we report on a multi-scale structure and composition analysis of iron reduced from hematite with pure H2, reaching down to near-atomic scale. During reduction a complex pore- and microstructure evolves, due to oxygen loss and non-volume conserving phase transformations. The microstructure after reduction is an aggregate of nearly pure iron crystals, containing inherited and acquired pores and cracks. We observe several types of lattice defects that accelerate mass transport as well as several chemical impurities (Na, Mg, Ti, V) within the Fe in the form of oxide islands that were not reduced. With this study, we aim to open the perspective in the field of carbon-neutral iron production from macroscopic processing towards better understanding of the underlying microscopic transport and reduction mechanisms and kinetics. © 2021

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