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ejsandstrom t1_j6dz7qf wrote

Calling it green in this case means shifting the emissions else where

> Boston Metal is developing a process that doesn’t directly involve any fossil fuels, as Canary Media reported last year. The startup’s approach, called ​“molten oxide electrolysis,” involves using electric currents

This means that they will pull power from the grid. How many kWh does it take to turn 1 pound of solid iron and additives into one pound of liquid steel? It is a lot. Even if they use high frequency induction heating.


danbert2000 t1_j6e5502 wrote

Electrification is a huge part of a zero carbon future. You can make electricity without carbon. Even if this doesn't start 100% green, it can be 100% green. Steel processes with direct fuel needs will never be 100% green. Same idea behind EVs and heat pumps. You have to start somewhere, and this just creates a demand for clean energy when before it was a demand for more fossil fuels.


sciencetaco t1_j6ezv33 wrote

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


ejsandstrom t1_j6f4qxb wrote

I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be looking or just not doing something but to call it green is just greenwashing it.

“Hey look at us we are making Green steel!” Meanwhile they have haven’t reduced an ounce of carbon emissions. They just mover it from one pollution location to another.


Jeramus t1_j6fesuj wrote

Call it "potentially lower carbon dioxide emissions steel" if you want. I don't care about the name, I just care that these kind of changes happen.

This doesn't just shift pollution, it reduces greenhouse gasses overall.


GrouchyVariety t1_j6gjxwi wrote

I’m highly confident that they would be purchasing green energy exclusively. While it may be coming off the grid it will be matched kWh by kWh with renewable electricity production.


MrMike OP t1_j6e3a43 wrote

Right, but isn’t the grid continuing to get cleaner?


[deleted] t1_j6eufby wrote



magellanNH t1_j6fctzg wrote

New England, where the project will be located, doesn't use very much coal at all (usually less than 1% of generation recently). Mostly it's natural gas, nuclear, hydro from Canada, and renewables.

On very cold winter days we do use a fair amount of oil for power generation, but that's typically limited to just a handful of days a year when we can't get enough natural gas due to pipeline constraints.


danielravennest t1_j6ff518 wrote

> Replacing coal plants will happen

For the US, it has already mostly happened. Coal has dropped 60% since 2008. By the time Boston Metal gets a full size steel plant built (about 5 years) coal will mostly be gone.

Over the last 12 months, renewables provided more electricity than coal or nuclear individually (not together).


tjcanno t1_j6emp31 wrote

Yes it is, if you define “greener” as lower carbon footprint.

If you include the other externalities of “green“ power gen, then it’s not always so green.


kUdtiHaEX t1_j6e4sy2 wrote

How? You cannot make something “greener” without side effects.


danielravennest t1_j6j3as4 wrote

Gasoline used in my car's life (215,000 miles so far) - 25,000 kg. Lithium used in a full electric EV - 10 kg. One is much less than the other. Steel in both kinds of cars - about a ton each.

Electricity for EV to drive 215,000 miles in 22 years (my car's age) - about 72,000 kWh. US solar capacity factor - 24.4% (actual average output divided by rated panel capacity). Average power needed to produce that much power in 22 years: 372 Watts. Rated panel capacity needed: 1.52 KW.

Output per panel: 550W from largest US manufacturer rated at 585W but allowing for power loss as the panel ages. So you need about 3 panels. Panel Mass 34.4 kg x 3 = 103.2 kg. Much less than the car, and 250 times less than ICE gasoline needed.

So there aren't zero side effects, but a lot less.


Lumpyyyyy t1_j6fmi74 wrote

Takes about 275 Wh/lb or 550 kWh/ton to melt SG iron or 625 kWh/ton for steel.


londons_explorer t1_j6h7wrf wrote

The energy requirements are much higher than just melting... The main energy consumer is removing the oxygen


danielravennest t1_j6j66zg wrote

The energy of formation of Iron III Oxide is 5.16 MJ/kg or 1433 kWh/ton. Actual energy needed depends on the efficiency of the process, including heat losses.

Wholesale solar and wind range from $26-50/MWh x 1.433 MWh/ton = $37-72/ton. Since steel goes for ~$750/ton these days, power cost is not a show-stopper at reasonable efficiency.


lemmecheckit t1_j6g03pu wrote

They can easily purchase emission free electricity. Come on everyone knows this


JimTheSaint t1_j6fofw0 wrote

Absolutely, which means it will be greener along with everything else. The old process wouldn't. In the US there is a good chance that the power is from nuclear ,that is almost as clean as it gets


LukeMayeshothand t1_j6fx80x wrote

Nuclear is the answer but no one wants it in their backyard.


Which-Adeptness6908 t1_j6h559o wrote

Nuclear is dead because it's not economical.

Even the SMR developers keep raising the expected price and the delivery date keeps slipping.

Last price update was something like $80 whereas solar/wind is around $30 and still dropping.


danielravennest t1_j6j6kfg wrote

If the question was "how can I get really expensive electricity in 14 years", then yes nuclear is the answer. 14 years is the Vogtle 3 & 4 reactors in Georgia, approved in 2009, supposed to be operational this year.


Zebo91 t1_j6gxbbq wrote

Cleveland cliffs have electric arc furnaces that are significantly better than the old style. I'm not sure if it is the same tech or better


danielravennest t1_j6j7brn wrote

Electric arc furnaces are for remelting scrap iron to make new steel. About half of US steel production is remelted scrap. The other half has to come from a "reduction" furnace that removes oxygen from iron ore. Historically this was a blast furnace, but Boston Metal has a different process.


Zebo91 t1_j6jtenz wrote

Thanks for making the distinction.


londons_explorer t1_j6h7r2v wrote

Yes, it's a lot. But it can run when energy is cheap, such as when there is excess solar and wind.

There are other factories already that power up the most energy hungry devices only when power is cheap.


YeaISeddit t1_j6h83wj wrote

Industrial furnaces and forges aren’t actually things you can fire up and shut down on a moment’s notice. This would completely change the chemistry and maybe lead to batch deviation and scrapping the whole batch. But, I’m not super familiar with this specific process. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely to me they could take advantage of off-hour energy costs. In fact, the chemistry companies around where I live mostly have their own power plants for these kinds of operations.


smoxy t1_j6gzs0h wrote

But does it use AI and Blockchain?


ElScrotoDeCthulo t1_j6ehby0 wrote

Milankovitch cycle.

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