U.S. Steel Unveils Plan to Capture Carbon Emissions at Gary Works Facility

By Jeffrey Bonior
Apr 04 2024 |
Employees working at the U. S. Steel Gary Works pig iron caster. Photo courtesy U.S. Steel.

The 123-year-old steelmaker will partner with CarbonFree to capture and turn harmful carbon emissions into a carbon-neutral version of calcium carbonate.

The United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) announced on Wednesday a collaboration with Texas-based CarbonFree to capture carbon emissions produced by U.S. Steel’s Gary Works blast furnaces in Northwest Indiana.

The project will be the first commercial-scale carbon capture utilization plant at a steel mill in North America and puts U.S. Steel on a path to reaching its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity of 20% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. It is the first step in exploring the scalability of carbon capture technology for potential future implementation at additional steel mills.

San Antonio-based CarbonFree plans to utilize its SkyCycle technology to capture and mineralize as much as 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to emissions generated by nearly 12,000 passenger cars annually. The capturing process will have the ability for further expansion in coming years.

Climate change is one of the most critical issues impacting our planet, and reducing industrial emissions is essential toward meeting climate goals. American steel companies, already among the cleanest and most energy efficient in the world, have taken major steps to limit their impact on the environment, and have set ambitious goals to further reduce emissions.

Wednesday’s announcement is another step forward in this effort. Construction of CarbonFree’s SkyCycle plant at the U.S. Steel Gary Works facility is expected to begin this summer, with operations slated for a 2026 start. The definitive agreement has a term of 20 years following its in-service date.

CarbonFree’s SkyCycle process captures carbon emissions from hard-to-abate industrial sources before they enter the atmosphere and converts them into a carbon neutral version of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is essential to the creation of paper and plastics, as well as personal care, paint and building products.

“Innovating to capture carbon at an integrated mill is the latest example of how steel is enabling a more sustainable future,” said Scott Buckiso, U.S. Steel’s senior vice president and chief manufacturing officer. “Moreover, U.S. Steel has a history of firsts that we’re confidently building on. Using SkyCycle technology for the first project of its kind in North America should benefit the community for generations to come.”

By leveraging innovative carbon capture technologies, U.S. Steel and CarbonFree aim to revolutionize the steel manufacturing industry, reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. The partnership is expected to enable U.S. Steel to offer steel used in automotive, appliance and packaging industries with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

In addition to capturing carbon dioxide, CarbonFree will use slag produced by the blast furnace operation as part of the calcium carbonate production process.

U.S. Steel employs more than 4,300 people at Gary Works and creates an Economic Multiplier Effect, supporting thousands of additional steel plant, chemical, energy, transportation, and supplier jobs.

CarbonFree will invest approximately $150 million in this project and will hire about 50 workers to operate the facility.

“U.S. Steel is setting a precedent for how manufacturers can and must proactively manage their carbon emissions and CarbonFree is honored to play a role in this legacy,” said Martin Keighley, CEO of CarbonFree. “At CarbonFree we are pioneering profitable carbon capture utilization through disruptive specialty chemical manufacturing using waste carbon dioxide as a primary feedstock.

“As carbon capture continues to be recognized as an indispensable solution on the path to carbon neutrality for carbon-intensive industries, we look forward to helping U.S. Steel achieve its decarbonization goals while providing economic and environmental benefits to the city of Gary and state of Indiana.”