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Tata Steel UK using bacteria-technology to recycle its emissions

A pilot project, led by the University of South Wales, has been set up at the two Tata Steel UK Port Talbot ironmaking furnaces in Wales. The project, while still in its infancy, has already shown promising results, the experts involved said last week.

March 29, 2022 / 09:20 AM IST
 
 
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Tata Steel's blast furnaces in the UK are using billions of microscopic bacteria to convert its emissions into stock materials for other industries to make recycled products such as food-packaging to animal feed, the Indian steel major has said.

A pilot project, led by the University of South Wales, has been set up at the two Tata Steel UK Port Talbot ironmaking furnaces in Wales. The project, while still in its infancy, has already shown promising results, the experts involved said last week.

"As the world is coming to terms with the challenges of net-zero CO2 steelmaking, there are lots of options to consider. Not only in terms of different steelmaking technologies, but also around any opportunities to capture and use the carbon-based process gases," said Dr Rhiannon Chalmers-Brown from the University of South Wales. "The process we are testing here bubbles off-gases from the blast furnaces through sewage sludge, which contains a certain type of bacteria able to consume both carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2)," she said.

Dr Chalmers-Brown said the team was getting quite high levels of carbon utilisation, which they feel can increase up to about 98 per cent. "The waste products from those bacteria include acetic acid and volatile fatty acids which can be used for a huge range of commercially viable end-uses such as paints, bioplastic-polymers or even animal feeds," she noted.