BMW Group Invests in Method for CO2-Free Steel Production

The BMW Group is investing in an innovative method for CO2-free steel production, developed by American start-up Boston Metal, through its venture capital fund, BMW i Ventures.

Steel is one of the most important materials in car production, and will continue to be for future vehicle generations as a building material for car bodies and many components. BMW Group press plants in Europe process more than half a million tonnes of steel per year.

The investment by BMW into the Boston Metal process is part of the company’s efforts to significantly reduce CO2 emissions across the supplier network.

In conventional steel production, BMW says blast furnaces are used which generate carbon dioxide. Boston Metal uses electricity for its new technology, which, by means of an electrolysis cell, produces molten iron that is later processed into steel. If electricity from renewable energies is used for this process, then BMW says this process of steel production is carbon-free. The start-up company aims to build demonstration facilities for this process over the next few years and further develop it for use on an industrial scale.

“We systematically identify the raw materials and components in our supplier network with the highest CO2 emissions from production. Steel is one of them, but it is vital to car production. For this reason, we have set ourselves the goal of continuously reducing CO2 emissions in the steel supply chain. By 2030, CO2 emissions should be about two million tonnes lower than today’s figure,” said

Dr Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.

The BMW Group has committed to increasing its percentage of recycled raw materials by 2030 and to use raw materials multiple times. The company says that all steel waste produced at its press plants – for example, when doors are punched out – is either reused through a direct material cycle or sent back to the steel producer via steel traders and processed into new steel.

The use of secondary material reduces CO2 emissions substantially compared to the primary material, conserves natural resources and also reduces the amount of energy needed for production.

Source: Motor Trader e-Magazine (April 2021) 

22 April 2021

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