How Hydrogen Can Make Combustion Cleaner

Copyright: © Peter Winandy

The EU project "HyInHeat" is researching the use of hydrogen in the aluminum and steel industry. 17.7 million Euros in funding has been provided. An RWTH Institute is coordinating the project.


The aluminum and steel industry is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the world. The "HyInHeat" research project, funded by the EU to the tune of 17.7 million Euros, now aims to test the use of hydrogen as a fuel in the high-temperature processes of the aluminum and steel industry. It will focus on the procedures of processing, in particular melting, heating and heat treatment, and will thus make an important contribution to decarbonization along the process chains of these sectors. The possible reduction of CO2 and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions with a simultaneous increase in energy efficiency through new technology would be an important contribution to achieving climate targets.

The project, which will run until the end of 2026 with 30 partners from 12 countries, is being coordinated by the Department for Industrial Furnaces and Heat Engineering (IOB) at RWTH Aachen University. The University's Institute of Mineral Engineering (GHI) and the Institute for Combustion Technology (ITV) are also involved. "While some components such as burners have already been classified as suitable for hydrogen combustion, the holistic integration of hydrogen as a fuel in industrial thermal processes requires an adaptation of the plant technology, the process technology as well as the infrastructure," explains the head of the IOB, Professor Herbert Pfeifer at the kick-off of the project in Aachen.

"HyInHeat" is now testing how efficient use (combustion) of hydrogen can be incorporated into the heating and melting processes. To this end, the project is redesigning or modifying industrial furnaces and individual components such as burners, measurement and control technology, as well as the entire plant infrastructure, and implementing them at eight demonstrators and industrial plants. To increase energy efficiency and reduce the future hydrogen demand of the processes, oxygen-enriched combustion and hydrogen-oxygen combustion are also being investigated as alternatives to conventional hydrogen-air combustion.

Maintaining existing product quality and energy and resource efficiency are the prerequisites for the successful use of hydrogen in the aluminum and steel industry. To this end, the project will also develop the digitalization of processes, the sustainable use of refractory materials, and new concepts for NOx emission measurement in the exhaust gas of hydrogen combustion. A comprehensive assessment of the changed material flows and life cycles of the plants will ultimately determine the potential of using hydrogen in industry.


The Department for Industrial Furnaces and Heat Engineering (IOB) at RWTH Aachen University is researching the efficient and clean combustion of hydrogen for the aluminum and steel industry in the EU project "HyInHeat" alongside 30 partners from twelve countries.


Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Herbert Pfeifer, Head of Department
Dr.-Ing. Thomas Echterhof, Academic Director
Department for Industrial Furnaces and Heat Engineering at RWTH Aachen University
Telephone: +49 241 80 25935
Telefax: +49 241 80 22289