Green options for sustainable exploitation of iron ore reserves in Uganda

Project summary

Final grant amount TBA
Uganda has enormous unexploited iron ore reserves. In Uganda’s Vision 2040, the steel industry is identified as a key sector that can drive the country to become an upper-middle-income economy by 2040, while reducing poverty rates and income inequality. World-wide, the steelmaking industry contributes to 7 % of the global CO2 emissions, which is the highest contribution for a single industrial sector. This makes iron and steel production a key driver of global warming. The emission of CO2 is the immediate result of using carbon and coke to remove oxygen from the ore.
This project proposes to contribute to build research capacity in Uganda to sustainably exploit its iron ore reserves to produce Green Steel. The carbon footprint of steelmaking can be dramatically improved by converting iron ore directly into iron, using reducing gases such as hydrogen and ammonia from green processes. In doing so, the emitted gases will be steam and nitrogen, instead of CO2. Apart from abundant iron ore, Uganda has abundant sustainable energy resources as solar and hydro power, so, in principle, no fossil fuels are required for steelmaking.
The project has the overarching objective to establish research infrastructure at Makerere University and educate three PhD students on various key aspects of Green Steel production: direct reduction of iron ore to iron using hydrogen and ammonia; alloying of thus produced direct reduced iron to steel qualities using elements extracted from waste from agriculture and forestry; synthesis of electrodes for hydrogen production from water using waste from downstream steel production. Education of PhDs and establishing a state-of-the art research infrastructure at Makerere University are essential steps to build up the required research capacity that facilitates Green Steel production.
Sustainable design and circularity aspects are integrated in all PhD projects. In addition the current steel production practices in Uganda are collected, to set the baseline for the environmental impact of the scenarios to be investigated in the project.
The project team is highly multidisciplinary, gender inclusive and combines expertise in thermochemistry, electrochemistry, metallurgy, mechanical engineering and sustainable design.

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