Vale tests biochar in pellet production

About Vale

12/2/2021

Vale tests biochar in pellet production

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For the first time, Vale used biochar in the pellets production, a lump of iron ore used in the production of steel in the steel industry. Biochar is a renewable product, obtained through the biomass carbonization. The test took place at the pelletizing plant that the company maintains in São Luís (MA). In the traditional pelletizing process, solid fossil fuels are used. At the time of the test, 57,000 tons of pellets were produced, where around 25% of the charcoal used was of vegetable origin. The experience reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the process by 10%. This was considered to be the first successful Vale's industrial scale test carried out.

Biochar was supplied by a company in Minas Gerais, which works with a premium, certified product, specific for steelmaking purposes. According to engineer Rodrigo Boyer, who led the initiative, another test will be carried out in São Luís with the objective of reaching at least 50% of the load made up of biochar. “Our objective is, in 2022, to test the technical feasibility of further increasing the share of the use of biochar in the furnace”, he adds. The experience will also be replicated at the company's pellet plant in Vargem Grande, in Minas Gerais, next year.

Image of pellets production, a lump of iron ore used in the production of steel in the steel industry
For the first time, Vale used biochar in the pellets production, a lump of iron ore used in the production of steel in the steel industry

Reducing emissions from pelletizing is one of Vale's biggest challenges. Today it represents approximately 33% of the company's GHG emissions, ahead of mining and rail transport. The biochar test is part of the company's portfolio of initiatives that contribute to the objective of reducing its direct and indirect carbon emissions by 33% by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement, with the objective of zeroing its net carbon emissions by 2050. To do so, Vale is investing between US$ 4 billion and US$ 6 billion, reinforcing its pact with society and the best sustainability practices worldwide.

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Vale tests biochar in pellet production