The steelmaker LME starts its vast decarbonization plan in Trith-Saint-Léger

LME is investing 125 million euros over five years in Trith-Saint-Léger to reduce its carbon footprint

Based in Trith-Saint-Léger in the North, LME has just replaced one of its ovens. A budget of 25 million euros per year over five years is devoted to the decarbonization of the site. The steelmaker has also just marketed its first carbon-compensated steel.

LME specializes in the manufacture of rolled steel. The only French site of the Italian group Beltrame, it is starting a vast decarbonization plan in Trith-Saint-Léger, in the North. A roadmap which is materialized in particular by the commissioning of a new reheating furnace. This replacement is the subject of a dedicated budget of 22 million euros which is part of a larger annual budget, planned for its decarbonization of 25 million euros per year, over a period of five years. That is a total envelope of 125 million euros.

“We decided two years ago to replace one of our two reheating furnaces, which was at the end of its life, specifies Vincent Smeeckaert, site manager. We changed technology and opted for a system with heat recovery. This represents savings in gas consumption, and therefore a reduction in our CO2 emissions of around 16%.”

This new furnace, commissioned this week, is designed to also operate with hydrogen replacing all or part of the gas. Above all, it will make it possible to manufacture a new steel, the production of which is carbon offset, called Chalibria.

“We are also studying the possibility of replacing coal, which releases a lot of CO2, with shredded tires. This requires a lot of trials, but these are quite conclusive. Eventually, we will be able to replace 80%, or even all, of the coal we use”, is convinced Vincent Smeeckaert.

Development of river transport

The company also plans to recover some of the heat from the cooling of its ovens to supply part of the neighboring town of Valenciennes. “The first consultations will start soon. There is therefore a whole infrastructure to imagine, but this redistribution of heat is interesting, because in addition to supplying energy to the inhabitants, it will further reduce our carbon footprint”, analyzes Guillaume Martin, CSR-energy manager at LME.

Another project for the next few years: the development of river transport. Today, of the 600,000 tons of steel produced each year, 80% is transported by truck and 20% by river. The leader would like to reverse the trend. To do this, development work on the loading docks is planned to increase their capacity.

“Decarbonization cannot happen overnight. All the more so when opting for breakthrough technology. Over the next three years, we will work on the recovery of waste heat, but also on the modernization of manufacturing processes and the use of hydrogen. This requires investment, of course, but also training and a change of mentality to create a dynamic and a culture within the company,” concludes Vincent Smeeckaert.