Spain has the first steel tube in the world manufactured without emissions

Steel is one of the most used materials in the world. More than two million tons are manufactured each year, so it is no surprise that it is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. 70% is produced in blast furnaces that use fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – and 20% in electric arc furnaces, which are less polluting. This causes 8% of CO2 emissions worldwide. For this reason, it is urgent to begin the decarbonization of the steel industry, one of the most backward sectors in this sense, given its technical complexities. To overcome them, a large investment of capital, courage and enough renewable energy to power the steel mills is required.

The Spanish company Tubos Reunidos had all that. For this reason, they have just become the first world producer to manufacture seamless steel pipes with net zero emissions. The range is called O-Next and the company is already filling the first orders, in a market in which global demand for “green steel” is much higher than supply. Interest is high: the main manufacturers of automobiles and other consumer goods dream of being the first to announce that they have 100% decarbonized their supply chain. But, to do this, they need the companies they buy from to send them ecological materials. “We saw that our tubes could be an opportunity for the decarbonization of other industries,” says Pedro Rodríguez, commercial director of Tubos Reunidos.

Seamless steel tubes are used in multiple sectors: from the creation of axles for cars and trucks to the mechanism of cranes, to solutions for transporting water and energy carriers such as gas or oil. «Right now, our customers' demand responds to their carbonization strategies. Many have already eliminated emissions from the rest of the life cycle of their products: it is in the raw materials they use where most of them are added,” he points out. To respond to the growing demand for “eco” steel, Tubos Reunidos will manufacture 2,000 tons of its new material in the second half of 2024.

This project is the result of the industrial and investment commitment that has been carried out within the company's 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, which includes sustainability measures. To develop the first seamless tube manufactured without fossil fuels, other initiatives were launched, highlighting the installation of more than 30,000 solar panels on the roofs of its factories. «As we have had electric ovens since our start-up as a company, we had an advantage,» reveals Rodríguez. «In addition, we have strategic agreements with suppliers who will supply us with renewable energy. The result of emissions in our own operations is net zero », he celebrates.

Being Spanish has worked in their favor: «The electrification of the entire industry will require a renewable energy infrastructure that can support it. The problem will come in those countries where it has not been generated. Those that can, will attract the steel company. At the moment, we are very well located in Spain, strategically. Large Spanish companies are leading the process. In fact, we have access to clean energy to cover greater demand,” he adds. Spain has everything to become a leader in “green steel.”