One of Australia’s richest men, Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals is challenging his nation to make steel without emitting carbon dioxide. Today virtually all steel is made by heating iron oxides with coal. Forrest plans a demo project to virtue signal his desire to stay a steel magnet while protecting his nation and the world from life threatening emissions of carbon dioxide. WARNING: Hold onto your wallets Mr. and Mrs. investor who lack adequate knowledge of how mineralogy and chemistry work to make our products at reasonable costs. Were I an investment con-man I might also find this new idea an attractive way to raise money for my company with little concern that it will ever need to be paid back.

As the con proceeds, the International Energy Agency says that by 2050 steel produced with hydrogen in place of coal will not equal 10% of steel production . Of course it won’t as its only advantage is to take money from the pockets of unsuspecting, not too bright, investors.

In 2020 the global steel industry produced 1.86 billion metric tonnes of steel contributing to so much of the world’s advanced construction. It also accounts for about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Absurd alarmists maintain that this is a short term hazard to life on Earth. Of course in reality that carbon dioxide makes life livable on our blue planet.

The steel sector has come under increased scrutiny from those who so wrongly see carbon dioxide emission as problematic when it most certainly is not. Cadres of con men jump on all of these fictitious concerns to bilk investors of money to attempt to reduce these so called greenhouse emissions.

These are relatively easy scams to implement, as social and governance scores amongst a younger more environmentally conscious generation of investors look to put their money where their morals are. That is to decarbonize the industrial sector. It is crazy but it is true.

Andrew Forest is not alone in his efforts to green steel production. Dr. Alexander Fieishanderi holds 100 patents and was honored by Siemens a while back as inventor of the year. He too believes we can make steel with less coal. When one follows the money and not sensible engineering it is easy to find such supporters.

A few pilot projects used to heat iron ore are popping up in Europe to attract investment from virtue signaling folks with little clue how the steel industry actually works. Hydrogen is a very important gas which is used in a wide variety of industrial processes, such as gas welding, gas chromatograph, rocket fuel and bombs of course. It is the first element on the periodic table with an atomic number of 1 and a weight of 1.008. It is part of many biomolecules like carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is most commonly separated from natural gas in the atmosphere but can also be extracted from isotopes of water such as deuterium and tritium.

Efforts to create economic hydrogen fuel cells for automobiles has been ongoing for decades. Unfortunately their flammability and difficulties encountered to recharge has kept them from any serious contribution for transportation. There are a few hydrogen fuel cell vehicles scattered around our nation.

Hydrogen has to be separated from the compounds to which it is attracted such as water or natural gas. Electrolysis is the method used if water is the source requiring large quantities of electricity. There is no debate that there is less energy available from the hydrogen produced from electrolysis than from the electricity used to produce the hydrogen. It is an energy loser. This increases the cost of producing steel by anywhere from 20% to 60%. The higher cost for steel would increase the cost of every product made from steel including electric vehicles which already require a premium of $10,000 to $15,000.

In the United States oil compares have used false claims over the cost of producing fossil fuel hydrogen to win over the Treasury and access billions in taxpayer subsidies. In August of 2021 Chris Jackson quit the leadership of a leading British hydrogen industry group, the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, over unsupportable claims for the capability to produce inexpensive hydrogen. It was called “green hydrogen” because the electricity used to create it would come from wind and solar sources .

Spending money trying to replace petroleum based gasoline with Hydrogen fuel cells is another way for the current administration to dole out money to friends as was done copiously with the solar cell industry. Hydrogen fuel cells WILL NEVER BE COMMERCIALLY COMPETITIVE with other ways to fuel a car electric or otherwise. They create electricity by combining Hydrogen and Oxygen to get water and electricity. They require large quantities of platinum to make this happen whose cost will always make commercialization impossible. Separating hydrogen from water or natural gas will always be difficult and handling a pressurized flammable gas will never be comfortable. They actually do work pretty well on forklifts in a warehouse which is where the American Taxpayers money will end up.

Author

  • Dr. Jay Lehr

    CFACT Senior Science Analyst Jay Lehr has authored more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. Jay’s new book A Hitchhikers Journey Through Climate Change written with Teri Ciccone is now available on Kindle and Amazon.