Greenhouse gas balance for stainless steel production further improved

7 February 2023

Stainless steel recycling is considered to be a sustainable way to save CO2 in the globally growing steel production. As early as 2010, Fraunhofer UMSICHT researchers determined a savings potential of more than 4.5 t CO2 per ton of blend on behalf of the Oryx Stainless Group. More recent calculations by the UMSICHT team even come to savings of over 6.7 t CO2 -eq. per ton of blend for the reference year 2021. The results show: The recycling of stainless steel scrap has great potential to save greenhouse gases.

As the demand for stainless steel continues to rise, a responsible and efficient use of limited global resources is becoming increasingly important. One option for steelmakers to save greenhouse gases is to produce new stainless steel from high-quality secondary raw material blends instead of primary raw materials. Secondary raw materials are upgraded by combining differently alloyed stainless steel scrap to produce blends. These blends being in accordance with the technical specifications needed are used in steel mills as the main inputs in an electric arc furnace (EAF) process. To a small extent, ferroalloys can be used for analytical fine-tuning.

Greater CO2 savings after update of the greenhouse gas balance

In the project, the UMSICHT researchers have now calculated the greenhouse gas balance of the recycling of stainless steel from the Oryx Stainless Group at the Dordrecht and Mülheim an der Ruhr sites - analogous to the study structure of 2010 - for the reference year 2021. The results show that compared with the calculation at that time, the greenhouse gas savings continue to increase. A corresponding study for the site in Thailand is in progress at UMSICHT.

Total savings by the Oryx Stainless Group at the two sites in 2021 amount to around 3,015,000 t CO2 -eq. - approximately one million metric tons CO2 eq. more than in 2009 (2,026,000 t CO2 eq.). One reason is the comparatively higher output volume. The average weighted savings have also increased to 6.7 t CO2 eq./t blend in 2021. Thus, the results also retroactively show larger savings for the year 2009.

"In order to be able to compare the values meaningfully and reliably with our earlier calculations, we have also recalculated the data for 2009 again with our new model," explains Dr.-Ing. Daniel Maga, Group Manager Sustainability Assessment at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. "Among other things, the most recent data sets for the raw materials of primary steel production show a higher carbon footprint and the current electricity mix for 2020 shows a lower CO2 footprint."

Continuously developing stainless steel production

To compute the overall results, the researchers first calculated the total greenhouse gas savings from substituting primary material in the electric arc furnace (EAF) process. In a second step, they considered the entire Oryx process chain for the sites in Mülheim an der Ruhr and Dordrecht, from collection to production of the finished blends to their transport to the customers. "The results help us to quantify and communicate the benefits of stainless steel production from blends," emphasizes Tobias Kämmer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Oryx Stainless Group. "The findings also form a basis for political decisions and strategic planning."

More information:

Link to Sustainability and Participation Department

Link to LCA landing page

Notes for the editorial staff:

Founded in 1990, the Oryx Stainless Group, with its parent company Oryx Stainless Holding B.V., is one of the world's leading trade organisations for raw materials in the production of high quality stainless steels. The focus of the company's business activities is on the handling and processing of stainless steel scrap into Oryx Stainless Blends. These secondary raw material blends, individually fine tuned for each stainless steel producer replace, above all, primary raw materials.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT is a pioneer for a sustainable world. With our research in the areas of climate-neutral energy systems, resource-efficient processes and circular products, we make concrete contributions to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. We develop innovative, industrially feasible technologies, products and services for the circular economy and bring them to application with all our strength. The focus is on the balance of economically successful, socially equitable and sustainable developments. The institute has sites in Oberhausen, Willich and Sulzbach-Rosenberg. In 2021, Fraunhofer UMSICHT generated a turnover of more than 57.8 million euros with a workforce of 608 employees. As one of 75 institutes and research facilities of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the the world's leading organization for applied research, we are part of a worldwide network and promote international cooperation.

For more information, please contact:

Oryx Stainless Group     

Oryx Stainless Holding B.V.
's-Gravendeelsedijk 159
NL-3316 AS Dordrecht

Kaemmer Phone +31-78-632-6230  

Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental,
Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT
Osterfelder Strasse 3
46047 Oberhausen

Stephanie Wehr-Zenz
Phone +49-208-8598 1505