A report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has looked at start-up Boston Metal, a company spun out of years of research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Using a patented molten oxide electrolysis process (similar to that used to make aluminium), in which iron ore is placed in a vessel, filled with a liquid electrolyte, and then electrified, Boston Metal is already making liquid iron at “semi-industrial validation” stage. The product can be used for steelmaking, cutting out the traditional need for coking coal or upcoming alternative technologies involving hydrogen.
Next year, the company is planning a commercial plant for ferroalloy production, and then between 2024-25 hopes to have a pilot plant for steel production operating. Commercial steel production is touted for the second half of this decade, with companies across the world, such as Australia’s BlueScope, already in talks. The technology, if it proves cost-effective at large scale, could provide a valuable alternative for green steelmaking in the future.