Next step towards carbon neutral steel: SMART or SteelMaking with Alternative Reductants

To remain at the forefront of energy and climate transition, ArcelorMittal Belgium is launching a new project in collaboration with Vanheede Environment Group, Ghent University and CRM group: “SMART: Steelmaking with Alternative Reductants”. This  project is an innovative process to reduce CO2-emissions by chemically recovering end-of-life plastics and other waste. In this way, ArcelorMittal Belgium reinforces the specific implementation of its sustainability strategy to reduce CO2 emission with 35% by 2030 compared to 2018, and – within the framework of the Green Deal – even towards climate neutrality in 2050. The partners in this project play an active role to reach these goals.

In the steelmaking process, so-called ‘reductants’ are needed to transform iron ore into hot metal. The  SMART project allows us to replace fossil carbon-containing reductants such as coal with circular waste-based reductants, hence the project acronym SMART: SteelMaking with Alternative Reductants.

To this end, Vanheede Environment Group, an integrated environmental company located in Belgium, will supply ArcelorMittal with AlterCoal® pellets. These pellets are a mixture of industrial residuals and non-recyclable plastics with a high carbon content. Using dedicated CRM Group and Ghent University expertise in high temperature processes, the SMART project will allow to chemically recover these AlterCoal® pellets into metallurgical coke and into pulverised coal. Both take on the role of reductant and energy source in the blast furnace.

By reducing the use of fossil carbon, we will reduce our CO2 emissions and provide a solution for particularly difficult waste streams, such as non-recyclable plastics. The SMART project is yet another step forward in our ambition to become the sustainable steel plant of the future, the cornerstone of a circular economy.

The SMART project is a collaboration between ArcelorMittal, Vanheede Environment Group, Ghent University and CRM Group. More information can be found at The project is funded by the LIFE program of the European Union (LIFE19 CCM/BE/001215) for an amount of 3.4 million euro. The LIFE program is the EU’s subsidy instrument for the environment and climate action created in 1992.