RINA launches six-year Hydra project

Classification society RINA has announced the start of the six-year research Hydra project, which by 2025, aims to create a 100% hydrogen-fueled pilot plant capable of producing up to seven tons of steel per hour, with a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

The €88 million Hydra initiative is funded by the European Commission (EC) NextGenerationEU and backed by the Italian Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy through Centro Sviluppo Materiali in Castel Romano, RINA said, adding that the initiative is part of the IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest) and will involve a team of 120 people.

According to RINA, the Hydra project aims to reduce emissions to mere kilograms of CO2 per ton of steel and will make this technology available to the industry on the way to net zero.

Hydra will involve the design and construction of an operational pilot plant that will utilize hydrogen in every stage of the steel production cycle, RINA said, adding that the structure will consist of a 30-meter-high direct iron ore reduction (DRI) tower using hydrogen as a reducing agent, an electric furnace (EAF) and a reheating furnace.

Additionally, through a testing and qualification hub, the project is expected to characterize the materials, equipment and internal infrastructure required by steel producers, as well as those required for hydrogen transportation to the plant and storage, to transition to 100% hydrogen-fueled steel production, ensuring a comprehensive and validated shift to hydrogen-based processes.

As part of Hydra, the classification society will also establish a training center to gather and disseminate know-how related to the design, implementation and deployment of hydrogen-based decarbonization technologies. The center, according to RINA, will become a permanent international research and development platform open to all stakeholders in the steel and energy industries.

Ugo Salerno, Chairman and CEO of RINA, commented: “Beyond the technological advancements, the truly unique nature of this project is its position as an open research facility. It is not intended or designed to provide commercial advantage to any one steel producer, rather move the industry, and the world, forward in the use of 100% hydrogen production with near zero emissions.”

“Ultimately, the technology will rely on the availability of hydrogen to power the steelmaking processes. By backing Hydra as an IPCEI project, the European Commission has underscored its commitment to the broader adoption of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source. With many industry projects underway for the use of hydrogen, we hope that this project will help move these forward by establishing the hydrogen infrastructure and supply chain needs of the steel industry.”