Nucor is launching a line of net zero carbon steel products called Econiq and General Motors will be the first to use the product early next year. The new steel products will utilize 100% renewable electricity and use carbon offsets to negate emissions, Nucor says.
It is another in a line of work the US steel maker has done to lower its carbon impact in producing efficient and carbon neutral steel.
The company announced in July that it would reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of its steel mills by 77% and cut scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 35% by 2030. Nucor says it would implement new energy efficiency projects, invest in recycled steel facilities and pursue carbon capture and storage in an effort to reach the goals.
Nucor uses recycled scrap-based electric arc furnace technology at its 24 US mills and says it operates at 70% below the current greenhouse gas emissions intensity for the steel industry. According to the International Energy Agency, scrap-based production of steel accounts for up to 20% of steel production and significantly reduces the energy needed and carbon emissions of the process.
Nucor also is a large purchaser of renewable energy and has separate, lengthy virtual power agreements in place to receive wind and solar power. The solar project is said to be the largest in the steel industry.
GM will begin to receive the Econiq steel in the first quarter of 2022 and Nucor says it all steel purchased by the car maker will be carbon neutral by the end of 2022.
GM isn’t the only automaker looking at using green steel in its operations moving forward. Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce it in models by 2025 and says that steel makes up 30% of the emissions in its production. Volvo is working with Swedish steelmaker SSAB to use steel that isn’t made from fossil fuels by 2026.
Low-carbon steel is just one area of sustainability GM is tackling. The company recently said it would achieve 100% use of renewable energy five years earlier than it had planned. The automaker also says it will increase its investments of electric and autonomous vehicles by $35 billion by 2025.
Nucor says the availability of Econiq will be limited at first but that it will be available across all of its steelmaking product lines. Some of the industries the green steel product will be available to include automotive, construction, renewable energy and infrastructure.