Dartmouth College

To examine the economic, environmental, and equity dimensions associated with the electrification and decarbonization of the steel industry

  • Amount $499,999
  • City Hanover, NH
  • Investigator Erin Mayfield
  • Year 2022
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Energy and Environment

Electrifying industrial manufacturing processes is one of the key pathways to decarbonizing the U.S. energy system, yet decarbonizing industry remains challenging. This grant funds research from a team of scholars led by Erin Mayfield, Assistant Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College and includes Maron Greenleaf, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, along with researchers at Carbon Solutions. This project will take an industry-wide look at the potential impacts of electrification on steel manufacturing. Two technologies are being developed that can help electrify steel production processes: direct reduction of iron ore using electricity and deploying low-carbon electricity to make hydrogen, which can then be used to make steel. Existing energy system capacity expansion models do not yet represent these electrified production pathways well.The team will model electrified technology options for replacing, retrofitting, or redeveloping the over 130 steel manufacturing sites in the United States and then expand the analysis to assess associated upgrading costs, production capacity, material demand, and labor impacts. Improving understanding as to how these electrified steelmaking processes will be implemented will require close engagement with steel industry stakeholders who are making such transition decisions. To integrate this perspective in the study, the team will conduct technical consultations with 3-5 steel manufacturing and technology development firms, and they will also conduct a set of community engagement activities by engaging local stakeholders across three steel production communities in the Upper Midwest. Additionally, the team will assemble a project advisory committee to provide feedback on the methodology and facilitate community engagement.Along with academic research articles, the primary output from this project will be a multi-objective online planning and mapping platform that can be used to model various industry-wide electrification and decarbonization scenarios, which the team plans to disseminate widely through numerous briefings. The project will involve training of two graduate students and multiple undergraduate students in industrial systems modeling, techno-economic assessment, and environmental justice. To further the community engagement portion of the work, the Sustainable Transitions Lab and Clinic at Dartmouth College will provide support to engage the community-level interview participants.

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