German steelmaker thyssenkrupp has won a contract to build an 88 megawatt (MW) water electrolysis plant for Canadian energy company Hydro-Québec, the firm announced Monday.
“This project is an excellent illustration of how important the interaction of secure access to competitive renewable energy and the use of scaled technology for hydrogen production is,” said Sami Pelkonen, CEO of thyssenkrupp’s chemical and process technologies business unit.
Per the thyssenkrupp announcement, the state-owned Hydro-Québec is one of the largest hydropower suppliers in North America.
The project is scheduled to be commissioned in late 2023, thyssenkrupp announced.
“The water electrolysis plant will be built in Varennes, Quebec, and is to produce 11,100 metric tons of green hydrogen annually,” the firm said in the Monday announcement. “Both the hydrogen and the oxygen, a by-product of the electrolysis process, will be used in a biofuel plant to produce biofuels from residual waste for the transportation sector.”
Steel is the world’s second-largest commodity after crude oil. It is 15 times the size of all other metals markets combined in terms of metric tons. Furthermore, it is worth twice their value.
Yet, until recently, it was an industry that saw little use for a futures market. That is primarily because major steel participants enjoyed stable long-term prices for the materials they needed.
Price material volatility
Prices for iron ore and coking coal, two of the essential raw materials for steel production, have become far more volatile in recent years. That volatility has sent price shocks rippling through the supply chain. In turn, it has created volatility in finished steel prices that consumers are desperate to contain.
Enter the major futures exchanges. For over 200 years, the London Metal Exchange (LME) has provided the trade – producers, traders and consumers – the opportunity to hedge their risk across a growing range of base metals.
However, only recently have exchanges such as the LME, the U.S.’s CME and the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) in China introduced products allowing the trade to hedge raw material and finished steel price risk.
This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization reached 75.4% for the week ending Jan. 9; General Motors announced the launch of BrightDrop; and Rusal America announced a new line of aluminum additive manufacturing powders.
The U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate reached 75.4% for the week ending Jan. 9, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.
The rate increased from 74.6% the previous week.
Production during the week ending Jan. 9 totaled 1.71 million net tons, up 3.6% from the previous week. However, output during the week declined 10.3% year over year.
General Motors launches new BrightDrop business
General Motors today announced the launch of a new business called BrightDrop, which it says will “offer an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services to empower delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently.”
Before we head into the penultimate weekend of 2020, let’s take a look back at the week that was and some of the metals storylines here on MetalMiner, including: research findings related to organic molecules’ impact on machinability; gold prices; and the arrival of an allocation market for steel-buying organizations, as explained by MetalMiner CEO Lisa Reisman:
Week of Dec. 14-18 (machinability, gold prices and steel allocation market)
This morning in metals news: Purdue University researchers have released findings about the impact of organic molecules on machinability; Glencore made an operational update; and the WTI crude oil price ticked up this week.
Purdue University releases findings on organic molecules’ role in machinability
Purdue University researchers released findings on the effect of organic molecules on metal surfaces, particularly in terms of the ease of cutting metals.
“The researchers previously showed that the application of a permanent marker or Sharpie, glue or adhesive film made it easier to cut metals such as aluminum, stainless steels, nickel, copper and tantalum for industrial applications,” Purdue University said in a release.
Researchers from Purdue University, Japan’s Osaka University and the Indian Institute of Science collaborated on the research.
As Purdue notes, improving the machinability of metals or alloys can mean lower costs of production. Furthermore, augmented machinability can also lead to better performance or development of new product designs, Purdue noted.
A team of researchers in India have introduced an eco-friendly and energy-efficient battery that is being touted as “the future” of batteries — not only for the automobile world but for drones and other tech gadgets, too.
We’re offering timely emails with exclusive analyst commentary and some best practice advice – and you choose how often you receive it. Sign up today.
Researchers tout energy efficiency, cost savings
Researchers at the Shiv Nadar University and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay claim to have developed a technology for production of this eco-friendly lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery. The researchers claim the battery is three times more energy-efficient and cost-effective than the Li-S batteries currently in use, the Hindu Business Line reported.
The technology incorporates the use of: byproducts from the petroleum industry (sulfur); agro-waste elements and copolymers, such as cardanol (a byproduct of cashew nut processing); and eugenol (clove oil) as cathodic materials.
The university said it decided to introduce the technology after five years of research by Dr. Bimlesh Lochab, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. The university claimed the Li-S battery technology would be significantly cheaper and sustainable. while offering up to three times higher energy density and intrinsic flame-retardant properties.
For this research, Lochab’s team had tied-up with the IIT-Bombay team of Dr. Sagar Mitra, professor in the Department of Energy Science and Engineering.
So, how is this battery different from what’s available on the market?
It synthesizes a bio-based molecule and also boasts of a new type of cathode for Li-S batteries. These developments can help push the promising battery technology to higher performance levels.
“The research will aid the production of cost-effective, compact, energy-efficient, safe and environment-friendly Li-S batteries, offering a viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries commonly used at present,” Shiv Nadar University said in an official release.
Sulfur in the battery comes from industrial waste. Meanwhile, the cardanol comes from bio-renewable feedstock.
In addition, the eugenol (derived from clove oil) copolymer is also environmentally sustainable, halogen-free and flame-retardant, all of which make the battery safe to use.
When this tech will be commercially exploited, this new Li-S tech-based battery will have a longer life and can be manufactured in very small units. That means those benefiting from it will include technologists who make gadgets requiring a power source.
This morning in metals news: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the U.S. may follow up its reinstatement of aluminum tariffs with tariffs on Canadian steel; utility-scale battery storage continues to become more prevalent; and China imported a record amount of iron ore in July.
Ontario premier readies for potential steel tariffs
Late last week, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation reinstating tariffs on some Canadian aluminum. The U.S. rescinded its Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs for Canada and Mexico in May 2019.
“In 2010, the United States had seven operational battery storage systems, which accounted for 59 megawatts (MW) of power capacity (the maximum amount of power output a battery can provide in any instant) and 21 megawatthours (MWh) of energy capacity (the total amount of energy that can be stored or discharged by a battery),” the EIA reported.
According to General Administration of Customs Data cited by Reuters, iron ore imports totaled 112.65 million tonnes in July. The July monthly import total marked a 10.8% increase from the previous month, according to Reuters.
In this month’s Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) report: Ford CEO Jim Hackett will retire, the company announced this week; General Motors has plans to add more than 2,700 electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S.; and U.S. sales continue to show signs of recovery, but July sales remained down compared with a year ago.
The Automotive Monthly Metals Index (MMI) gained 2.4% for this month’s MMI reading.