Steel is used in a wide variety of manufactured products, such as skyscrapers, automobiles and bridges. Ironmaking is the first step in the steelmaking process. The coke oven/blast furnace process, which produces pig iron for steelmaking, requires additional energy to prepare the raw iron ore as sinter and pellets. Also, large amounts of carbon are consumed and emitted as carbon dioxide.
Alternative processes can avoid some of these issues but are limited by low production capacities and raw-material restrictions. Therefore, the U.S. steel industry would benefit from the development of a low-capital-cost process, which is scalable to large capacities that can take advantage of the availability of inexpensive iron-ore concentrate and can use fuels that significantly reduce potentially harmful emissions.