A new process is turning zero-carbon iron into low-emission steel Image

A new process is turning zero-carbon iron into low-emission steel


Turning less into more

Nucor has established multi-disciplinary teams to investigate technologies and operational adjustments we can deploy to further reduce the GHG intensity of our production processes.

One such exploration with a Nucor customer and partner led us to Electra, a green iron company pioneering a carbon-free process that can rely exclusively on renewable electricity to convert low-grade iron ores into high-purity iron at temperatures no hotter than a cup of coffee.1

Steelmakers can replace higher-emission inputs with Electra’s zero carbon iron, minimizing hard-to-abate indirect emissions. Consequently, steel used in cars, bridges, solar panels, and other applications would have considerably lower embodied carbon content compared to other alternatives. In addition, Electra’s process uses low-cost, abundant ores, which are commonly treated as waste today, reducing demand for those high-purity natural resources that are increasingly scarce.

Video of Electra's electrochemical refinement process; courtesy of Electra
Just as Nucor changed the face of the steel industry 53 years ago with our first electric arc furnace, successfully developing and scaling up a zero-carbon iron product is the type of transformative technology that could change the steel industry as we know it.
Leon Topalian,
Chief Executive Officer of Nucor Corporation

In 2022, Nucor made a strategic investment in Electra and Doug Jellison, Nucor’s Executive Vice President of Raw Materials joined Electra's market advisory board in order to help scale the startup’s innovative iron refining process.

When paired with Nucor’s EAF technology, Electra's green iron presents a unique opportunity to dramatically decarbonize our own operations and those of the steelmaking industry at large.

Graphic: 60 degrees celcius
Electra’s technology operates at 60°C and removes critical impurities from low-grade ores to produce high purity, gangue-free iron metal that can be charged directly into EAF steelmaking.
That’s 96% cooler than the typical process.

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This will take Nucor’s steel mill CO2 emissions down to 77% less than 2020’s global steelmaking average.

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For questions about sustainable steelmaking, or to partner with us to reach your sustainability goals, please contact us using the form below:

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