The metallurgy community at SINTEF have a vision that natural gas will, in the medium to long term, replace coal and coke as a raw material for the production of many metals and alloys. Globally, metal production contributes significantly to CO2-emissions, and the use of natural gas is one way to help reduce these emissions. Since it is also substantially easier to purify a gas than a solid like coal or coke, it can also help improve product quality in cases where high purities are required.
Norway is in a good position to play a key role in such a development, with access to raw materials in form of natural gas and minerals. Furthermore, there are strong scientific communities both on metallurgy and chemical process technology. SINTEF wish to build the scientific foundation for a new gas based Norwegian industry, and the first step is the internal project NatGasMetal.
The project will map which metals and alloys that are most suitable and show most promise for production with natural gas, and identify what scientific challenges which needs to be overcome in order to make industrialisation possible. The project is meant to produce several spin-off projects, and has already suceeded in this regard with the researcher projects KiSelRox (Development of new methods of gas analysis and reaction modelling) and NOVAL (Production of aluminium using inert gas anodes).