London, August 21, 2020. Society demands vast amounts of iron and steel, the production of which releases a staggering 2.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. This is 7% of global energy-related CO2 emissions and over 3 times the emissions from aviation in 2018.

To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as is needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals, CO2 emissions must be reduced to net zero by 2050. For the iron and steel industry, achieving this goal is going to require a range of solutions, which will include huge leaps in technology innovation.

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) refers to a range of CO2 reduction and reuse technologies that can be applied to heavy industries, including steel production, to separate CO2 from emissions, so that it can be stored safely and permanently in geological formations, or recycled by industry to produce commodity products such as fuels, polymers, fertilisers, proteins, foams and building materials.

The European Union Horizon 2020 programme has awarded 13.8 million Euro in research funding to advance cutting-edge CCUS technology. Led by University College London in the UK, the project ‘Advanced Carbon Capture for steel industries integrated in CCUS Clusters’ (C4U), will boost the development of CCUS in the iron and steel industry while considering in detail the safety, environmental, societal, policy and business aspects. The project aims to bring two promising CO2 capture technologies closer to deployment, through pilot-scale technology testing in an operational environment.

Heleen de Coninck, full Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, and Associate Professor at Radboud University:

“Reducing CO2 emissions is incredibly urgent; each year that we reduce a tonne of CO2 means that we don’t need to remove that tonne later on because we’ve busted our carbon budget. Though non-fossil technologies for steelmaking are under development, it will be a while before those are commercially available. To bridge those years and still reduce emissions, CCS comes into play. A condition is, however, that it can be deployed fast, and to this we hope to contribute in the C4U Project.” 

The capture technologies are based on the use of two novel high temperature gas-solid reaction and separation processes, which cover a range of off-gas emission sources on a steel plant. The processes also transform off-gasses into valuable inputs for industry, such as heat and hydrogen. In combination, the two C4U technologies could tackle up to 94% of the total emissions in a steel plant, resulting in an overall CO2 emission reduction of 89%.

Full-scale systems will be designed for integration with a steel plant run by ArcelorMittal in Belgium, which include a pipeline network to transport the CO2 captured from the plant and a number of other industries along its route for geological storage under the North Sea bed.

In their 2019 Climate Action Report, The Chairman and Chief Executive, Lakshmi N. Mittal, of ArcelorMittal said:

we need to develop breakthrough low-emissions steelmaking technologies. We are working on the technologies for several potential pathways including circular carbon and clean power, and these underpin our ambition to significantly reduce our carbon footprint by 2050. We are in the process of running pilots of these different technologies at various plants in Europe, where regulation today is most advanced, and where we have an ambition to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.”

With 21 partners across 11 countries, the study goes beyond high-tech engineering solutions – scientists will also examine the societal readiness of industry, policy makers and other societal actors such as communities for using CCUS technology to tackle climate change. The research will also look at what governments can do to help advance this type of technology, and how companies can innovate on business models to enable CCUS. 

Whilst CCUS is not the only answer to making steel production more climate-friendly, it’s a crucial piece in the puzzle of making this invaluable commodity truly Paris-compatible.

The project coordinator, Haroun Mahgerefteh, Professor of Chemical Engineering at University College London said:

“The C4U project focuses on one of the largest industries in the world in order to significantly cut its CO2 emissions through the use of CCUS. I am delighted to be working with such a multi-disciplinary team of world-leading engineers, social scientists, business and policy experts to realise this goal. We aim to help the iron and steel industry to continue to play its significant role to the benefit of society, with minimal impact on the environment.”

If you would like more information on the project, please contact or visit