Electra Launches Pilot Plant to Advance Commercialization of Sustainable Clean Iron Production

28 March 2024

Electra, a clean iron company, today announced the commissioning of its Pilot plant in Boulder, Colorado. The Pilot demonstrates Electra’s first-of-a-kind technology to produce metallic iron from already mined, high-impurity, commercially stranded ores to accelerate decarbonization, sustainability, and circularity across the ore-to-steel value chain.

With 90 percent of steel production’s CO2 emissions coming from ironmaking, Electra’s process takes on this challenge by operating at merely 140 degrees Fahrenheit, enabling seamless integration of intermittent renewable energy resources, making emissions-free iron possible at temperatures colder than coffee. The process intakes a wide range of ores and the principal iron ore impurities like alumina and silica are selectively refined as co-products. With greater than 99 percent purity, Electra’s clean iron, combined with recycled scrap steel, offers the highest value-in-use for electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmakers, while reducing the capital intensity, cost, and waste across the value chain.

The Pilot is designed to produce clean iron in approximately 1-meter square plates, and we are increasing capacity in a phased approach to validate modularity. By repeatedly connecting the iron plates already demonstrated at the Pilot scale, the plant capacity is increased to millions of tonnes of iron production at the commercial scale. BHP, a leading seaborne iron ore supplier to the steel industry and an Electra investor, supplied the iron ores for this Pilot.

Electra CEO and co-founder Sandeep Nijhawan said, “Clean iron produced from a wide variety of ore types is the key constraint to decarbonizing the steel industry sustainably. With support from our partners across the value chain, the Pilot brings us closer to our goal of producing millions of tonnes of clean iron by the end of the decade.”

“Electra’s Pilot plant is a significant step towards a cleaner, more sustainable, and circular steel industry,” said Noah Hanners, EVP of Raw Materials at Nucor, a world leader in low-carbon emission EAF steel and an Electra investor. “Electra’s pure iron metal is uniquely positioned to allow the upcycling of a broader range of steel scrap into higher-value sustainable steel products, improving the circularity and sustainability of the steel industry.”

Electra CTO and co-founder Quoc Pham said, “While the road ahead is long, the arc of our progress is fast. The commissioning of the Pilot within three and a half years of the company's founding reflects the strength of our team and our ability to leverage knowledge from adjacent industries and push the boundaries of clean iron production to tackle one of the hardest-to-abate sectors of our economy.”