Hydrogen plasma smelting reduction process monitoring with optical emission spectroscopy – Establishing the basis for the method

Henri Pauna, Daniel Ernst, Michael Zarl, Matti Aula, Johannes Schenk, Marko Huttula, Timo Fabritius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In the world of ever-increasing demand for carbon-free steel, hydrogen and recycling have an undeniable role in achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions for the steel industry. However, even though steel is one of the most recycled materials globally, the quantity of steel that can be made from recycled steel will probably not match the demand in the future. This in turn means that steel must be also produced from the conventional resource, the iron ore. Hydrogen has been proposed as an environmentally friendly alternative to carbon as a reducing agent. To tackle the problems related to the usage of hydrogen for this purpose, hydrogen plasma smelting reduction has been studied extensively in the last few years. This article aims to provide means for process control of the hydrogen plasma, which may show erratic and chaotic behavior during the smelting process. The method used is optical emission spectroscopy, with which the plasma can be characterized, its composition can be evaluated, and its temporal evolution can be assessed. This study sheds light on how the plasma behaves with different electrode gaps and flow gas compositions together with how the position of the arc with respect to the center of the crucible can be assessed. In Ar/H2 plasma, the plasma temperatures derived with OES varied between 4000 and 10000 K, and up to a 26% decrease in electron density was observed when increasing the electrode gap in 1 cm increments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number133755
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date24 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland under the Genome of Steel grant No. 311934 , Business Finland with the Towards Fossil-free Steel project No. 45774/31/2020 , and the COMET program Fundamentals of hydrogen reduction , K1-MET project number 12204396 . COMET is funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology , the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs , the provinces of Upper Austria, Tyrol, and Styria, and the Styrian Business Promotion Agency (SFG) . In addition, this work is partially financed by the industrial partners voestalpine Stahl GmbH and voestalpine Stahl Donawitz GmbH and the scientific partner Montanuniversitaet Leoben.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • Hydrogen plasma smelting reduction
  • Optical emission spectroscopy
  • Plasma analytics
  • Process control

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