Japan’s Imabari Shipbuilding Co. has decided to build a new 180,000 dwt dry bulk carrier using a low CO2 blast furnace steel material commercialized by Kobe Steel Corporation. According to the companies, the project will make Imabari the first shipbuilding company in the world to use low-CO2 steel in a large shipbuilding project.
No specific details were provided on the vessel other than to say it is expected to be delivered in January 2024. The Imabari Shipbuilding Group said the project is part of its efforts to develop methods of construction that not only create environmentally friendly ships but also reduce power consumption in production and the amount of raw materials used in the manufacturing process. The company adopted the product known as Kobenable Steel for its ability to lower CO2 emissions in the shipbuilding process compared to conventional steel products.
Imabari Shipbuilding Group is the largest builder in Japan with the company calculating that it represented a third of the Japanese shipbuilding market in 2021. Globally, Imabari accounted for more than six percent of the world market in 2021 (based on gross tonnage), with Japan having approximately an 18 percent market share. The company said it has decided to use Kobenable Premier, which provides a 100 percent reduction in CO2 emissions using the mass-balance method. The new steel would be a marketing advantage for the shipbuilder going forward as ship owners looking to reduce emissions tired to their operations.
Kobenable Steel, which was introduced in 2022, is manufactured in the same process as the conventional blast furnace method. It utilizes a technology that can significantly reduce CO2 emissions from the blast furnace, which was demonstrated by charging the blast furnace at Kobe’s Kakogawa Works production site to provide a large amount of hot briquetted iron (HBI) manufactured with a natural gas process that can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 to 40 percent.
The mass balance methodology is used in producing the steel product which involves a mix of raw materials to achieve the reduction of CO2. For the ironmaking process, Kobe says it is possible to reduce the amount of coke used and thereby reduce CO2 emissions by replacing a portion of iron ore with HBI. They said the resulting product maintains the same level of high quality as conventional products, but there was no discussion of the cost compared to conventional steel.
The first commercial application of Kobe’s new steel product was announced at the end of 2022 for a large construction project in Tokyo. The calculation method for the CO2 reduction and results are certified by the DNV Business Assurance services, as a third-party certification body. At the time of the sale of the products, Kobe Steel is providing the third-party certificate issued by DNV and a low-CO2 steel product certificate issued by the company. They said the volume of steel that will be able available will depend on the certification body.