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Steel doesn’t have a great set of climate credentials.

Cleveland-Cliffs’ direct reduction plant at Toledo, Ohio.
Cleveland-Cliffs’ direct reduction plant at Toledo, Ohio. Credit: Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc. / Courtesy

The iron and steel manufacturing industries have a huge emissions impact, accounting for 7% of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Producing iron and turning it into steel also takes tons of heat and power, making the industry a hard candidate to convert from fossil fuels to electric power.

But one major steel producer has found success in cleaning up its process. Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs cut emissions last year by almost a third from 2017 levels at a few dozen of its U.S. facilities, winning it federal recognition, Kathiann M. Kowalski reports.

Much of that progress stems from Cleveland-Cliffs’ opening of a “direct reduction” plant in Toledo. Its steel is made with pelletized iron ore, which already has many impurities removed, reducing the power needed to turn the pellets into hot briquetted iron. From there, the hot briquettes can head into an electric furnace, where they can be turned into steel with a lower emissions impact. 

Energy efficiency upgrades also made a difference, and the incorporation of hydrogen power could take the company’s emissions cuts even further.

After all, while climate advocates and steel company representatives know there’s more work to be done, Cleveland-Cliffs’ success proves that cleaning up steel is definitely doable.

Read more from the Energy News Network.

More clean energy news

🌎 Climate predictions: The White House has released its National Climate Assessment, which predicts how climate change will likely impact each region of the U.S. — and how many states are leading on action to stop it. (Grist)

🗳️ Vote of climate confidence: Analysts say the 2023 election shows that a strategy by some Republicans to attack climate policy was “dead, flat wrong,” as Democrats made gains even in states where clean energy was a prominent issue. (E&E News)

🏭 A carbon capture milestone: The nation’s first direct air carbon capture facility is beginning operations in Tracy, California, where it’ll use limestone to capture carbon from the air and store it. (E&E News)

💸 Throwing away “free money:” Five large states have collected more than half of a federal climate grant program’s funding, while several smaller states still haven’t accessed “free money” for climate-related projects they’ve been offered. (E&E News)

☢️ Nuclear disaster? After a proposed small modular nuclear power plant was canceled over cost concerns, industry observers are questioning whether next-generation nuclear reactors will ever take off. (Deseret News, E&E News) 

🔎 Search party: Startups pilot software that can help utilities and grid operators identify rare openings to connect new renewables to the grid. (Canary Media)

🚦 Driving emissions cuts: An environmental group found that California ranks first in the nation for transportation projects that address inequality while tackling climate change. (Bloomberg) 

🔥 Does gas still make sense? Clean energy advocates say Wisconsin regulators should withdraw their prior approval for a 625 MW natural gas power plant, citing the availability of new grid storage and federal clean energy incentives. (Energy News Network)

🧱 Brick by carbon brick: A Bill Gates-backed startup company says it can effectively capture and store carbon by making bricks out of wood chips and plant pieces, which it can then bury deep underground. (Washington Post)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.