Project duration: 1 January 2020 – 31 December 2022


Steel industry generates masses of ZnO based side streams. Simultaneously, ZnO based H2S adsorbent materials are manufactured expensively from primary raw materials. This project will tackle this dilemma: ZnO containing side streams are converted to adsorbents. In the DESULF project, the promising lab-scale H2S adsorption results for side stream adsorbents are up-scaled to pilot scale. Consortium covers the entire value chain for new business.

The solution (technology)

ZnO pellets are used as sulphur absorbents for synthesis gas from biomass gasification, coking gas from steel production and biogas. Due to the high price of absorbing pellets based on primary ZnO powders, e.g., the gasification process is not always economically viable. Simultaneously, large amounts of Zn-containing side streams are generated in steel industry, with poor profitability of recycling. In the worst case, the side streams are disposed as hazardous waste, which is very costly. By substituting at least part of the primary ZnO by steel industry side streams, the price of absorbing pellets can be lowered significantly. Conducted lab-scale experiments have shown that absorbents based on steel industry side streams have sulphur absorption properties comparable to primary ZnO. The challenge is how to transfer the results from lab to industrial scale in an economically feasible way and create new business. The aim of the project is to tackle this challenge.

The project will create new business opportunities for companies. In Finland (with 10 gasification based syngasplants in future*), the estimated need for ZnO absorbents is 5 000 t/a for the production of synthesis gas. The target price for pellets is approximately 2.5 €/kg, thus the size of market only in Finland reaches 12.5 M€. Even if only 20% of the gasification plants in the world would use ZnO based sorbents, that would mean approximately 70 M€ market. In addition to targeting the customers in the gasification sector, other industry operators with such process or emission gases that contain small amounts of H2S are potential clients of the new H2S adsorbent materials. Such customers may be found in, e.g., oil and gas industry, steel industry (coking process of steel), anaerobic digestion processes (biogas, treatment of waste and sludges, food industry, energy production) and other types of energy generation processes (combustion gases). For example, only the anaerobic digestion market is expected to reach 8000 M€ by the year 2024. Given that the energy consumption is expected to grow steadily in the future, the target market of the EAF dust based H2S adsorbent material is foreseen to undergo systematic growth.


  • Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT (Lead Partner), Finland
  • ArcelorMittal Maizières Research SA, France
  • BioA, Finland
  • Boliden Kokkola Oy, Finland
  • Catalyco, Latvia
  • Höganäs AB, Sweden

For more information, please visit the project website.