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The global direct reduced iron market size was valued at USD 49.22 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 52.27 billion in 2023 to USD 96.78 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 9.2% during the forecast period.
Direct reduced iron (DRI) is an iron ore in the form of pellets and lumps, also known as sponge iron. The overall process of reducing iron ore is the removal of oxygen from its ore or other ferrous substances in a solid state without melting, similar to that encountered in the blast furnace. The reducing agents are hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which come from reformed coal, synthesis gas, and natural gas.
Moreover, steel production using blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace (BF/BOF) processes is based on fossil fuels. The reducing gas is obtained from natural gas or coal, producing a large amount of CO2 emissions. Therefore, the companies in this market are increasing R&D capacities in hydrogen-based DRI production, which can be further processed into steel with an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Such factors are expected to boost the direct reduced iron market growth during the forecast period.
Supply Chain Disruptions amid Lockdown Restrictions Hindered the Market Growth
The spread of COVID-19 in several countries, including India, China, Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada, and the U.S., led to lockdowns, thereby restricting the flow of resources and products. As finished goods distribution and raw material supply were affected, it severely affected the revenue and profitability of manufacturers. However, once the pandemic was under control, governments eased restrictions to support nations and upscale the economic value chains by aiding small-scale and domestic businesses to recommence manufacturing operations. In addition, DRI companies ramped up production to meet the growing demand for steel solutions. The manufacturers also started their activities by first implementing the indicated preventative measures.
Rising Interest in Developing Technologies to Create the Product is the Major Trend
Steelmaking is still a high-energy and CO2-emitting process. However, the steel sector is dedicated to keeping its operations and product usage as low-impact as possible. According to the World Steel Organization, every tonne of steel produced in 2021 resulted in an average of 1.89 tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Moreover, there has been a rise in industrial and scientific interest in developing technologies to create direct reduced iron due to the need for reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale. Oxygen is removed from iron ore in its solid state to generate sponge iron. The carbon reductant is replaced with hydrogen in the DRI process, which lowers CO2 emission by using natural gas instead of coal.
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Growing Usage of Direct Reduced Iron in Steelmaking to Propel the Market Growth
Increasing technology usage in the steelmaking industry is expected to be a major driving factor behind market growth. The technology is extensively utilized for steelmaking, demonstrating remarkable advantages compared to traditional blast furnace methods. The process has gained traction for steelmaking that addresses the CO2 emission restriction. Changing production dynamics, which requires the start-and-go action, is accomplished with the technology, as it can be stopped and restarted immediately and efficiently.
DRI products and manufacturing have developed throughout the years to keep up with the expanding needs of the steelmaking industry. As electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking expands, it gives EAF steelmakers the broad flexibility to customize their furnace charges to market conditions. In addition, it helps enhance the capacity to produce higher-quality steels due to their high metallic iron content, adjustable carbon level, and consistent physical and chemical properties.
Changing downstream requirements for various end-use industries has prompted the demand as it is used to improve product quality. It helps modulate carbon content easily per the product requirement, and the DRI forms a very low residual substance compared to normal scrap. Moreover, it demonstrates several benefits, including lower capital, operating costs, low tramp material content, predictable chemistry, and relatively uninterrupted continuous iron making. The growing steel consumption in various end-use industries is further expected to proliferate the market growth.
Risks Related to Direct Reduced Iron Handling and Storage May Hinder Market Growth
DRI is susceptible to rusting (re-oxidizing) in the presence of oxygen, just as steel structures. Moreover, heat is produced during the oxidation process, which is significant in bulk DRI cargos. DRI’s sponge structure also prevents heat from dissipating, allowing isolated pockets of DRI to heat up quickly in bulk. In addition, after handling bulk materials, a brief rise in temperature of roughly 30 degrees Celsius caused by self-heating is possible. After coming into contact with water, the material may slowly emit hydrogen. This cargo produces heat and hydrogen when in contact with air, freshwater, or seawater. A concentration of hydrogen and air, which is combustible, can combine to create an explosive mixture.
Pellets Segment Dominated due to Ease of Transport
Based on form, the market is bifurcated into pellets and others.
The pellets segment is anticipated to remain the largest segment during the forecast period. DRI can be used in a variety of processes in the production of crude steel. Usually, the product is used as a supplement for scrap in the EAF process. In addition, it is typically made from high-quality iron ore pellets, generally reduced by gas, to provide a highly metalized raw material for both traditional blast furnaces and electric arc furnaces. Furthermore, pellets are the most preferred among direct reduced iron mold types as they have better reactivity, are less expensive than lumps, and are easy to transport.
Moreover, pellets-ore motley with coal is transferred into the rotary kilns and then heated by coal burners to produce DRI. Direct reduced pellets are often used in EAF with limited refining capacity; the iron feed and the successively directly reduced iron must be low.
Gas-based Segment Dominated Due to Presence of Fewer Impurities
By production process, the market is segmented into gas-based and coal-based.
The gas-based segment accounted for the largest market share in 2022 and may continue its dominance till 2030. Gas condensation contains fewer impurities than coal condensation. The resulting iron may be purer and produce higher-quality steel. In addition, the gas-based process produces significantly less carbon dioxide than coal-based processes. For the reduction reaction, the gas-based process uses a shaft furnace, whereas the coal-based process uses one of the four reactor types. The reactors are rotary kiln, shaft furnace, fluidized bed reactor, and rotary hearth furnace. The rotary kiln is the most popular reactor for the coal process.
The coal-based segment is expected to hold a significant market share during the forecast period. Rotary kilns are used in coal-based reduction processes that convert the iron ore directly into metallic iron without melting the materials. In this process, metallic iron is produced by reducing iron oxide below the melting temperature of iron ore, i.e., 1,535°C, using carbonaceous material in the non-coking coal.
Steel Production Segment Dominates Due to Growing Production of High-quality Steel
By application, the market is segmented into steel production, construction, and others.
The steel production segment holds the largest market share and dominates the market due to a rise in the production of high-quality steel due to the adverse impact of low-quality raw materials on the environment. DRI is experiencing increased demand as a supplement to the improvement in steel quality required by steel manufacturers.
The construction segment is anticipated to register a significant growth rate during the forecast period due to well-performing residential infrastructure and a surge in activity in various non-residential sectors. In recent years, the construction industry has grown significantly. In addition, a rebound in residential construction is anticipated to boost the construction sector, which is expected to impact the market growth.
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Asia Pacific Direct Reduced Iron Market Size, 2022 (USD Billion)
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The Asia Pacific held the largest direct reduced iron market share in 2022 and recorded the highest CAGR, owing to increased product demand from numerous applications such as steel production and construction. The construction industry in India is anticipated to witness a significant growth rate during the forecast period. In addition, rising steel production and increasing demand from several end-use industries, such as aerospace and automotive, are expected to drive the market growth in the region. The government support for the expansion of the chemical industry in the region is further anticipated to drive the market growth during the forecast period.
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In North America, the market is anticipated to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period. A major factor driving the market growth is the growing steel industry in the region. Steel is extensively used in multiple industries, including industrial machines, appliances, oil & gas, automotive, and construction. The region is witnessing a significant demand for direct reduced iron from steel used in the oil and gas industry. The regional growth is further driven by improved production of oil and other natural gas, which requires DRI for the fracking process.
The market in Europe is anticipated to witness a significant growth rate during the forecast period owing to increasing investments in R&D activities and demand for steel products from rising building and construction activities. According to the World Steel Association, the construction industry accounts for more than half of global demand for steel. One of the main factors fueling the interest in steel production is the growing need for housing due to population growth.
The Latin America market is expected to see steady growth during the forecast period due to an increase in steel demand to manufacture automotive parts. This growth is associated with the increased production of passenger and light commercial vehicles in the region. Steel is being used in several end-use industries and contributes to overall regional economic development.
The Middle East & Africa market is expected to reach moderate growth during the forecast period owing to the rapid expansion of the residential building sector in the region.
Key Players are Adopting Business Expansion Strategies to Maintain their Market Position
The global market is moving toward consolidation, with key players operating in the market, such as Qatar Steel, Kobe Steel Ltd, ArcelorMittal, and NUCOR. Most manufacturers are escalating their business to achieve competency in the industry and lessen the threats posed by the new entrants’ threats. Moreover, market participants compete with international and regional players with widespread distribution networks, raw material suppliers, and regulatory know-how. In addition, companies have been signing contracts, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions with other market leaders to expand their existing markets.
An Infographic Representation of Direct Reduced Iron Market
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The research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on crucial aspects such as leading companies and applications. It also offers insights into key trends and highlights vital industry developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the report encompasses various factors that have contributed to the market growth in recent years. It further includes historical data and forecasts revenue growth at global, regional, and country levels and analyzes the latest market dynamics and opportunities.
CAGR of 9.2% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion) and Volume (Kiloton)
By Form, Production Process, Application, and Region
By Production Process
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was valued at USD 49.22 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 96.78 billion by 2030.
In 2022, the Asia Pacific market size stood at USD 28.91 billion.
Growing at a CAGR of 9.2%, the market is expected to exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2023-2030).
Based on application, the steel production segment is expected to be the leading segment in the market during the forecast period.
The growing product demand from the steel industry is expected to bolster the market growth.
Qatar Steel, Kobe Steel Ltd, ArcelorMittal, and NUCOR are major players in the global market.
The Asia Pacific held a dominant market share in 2022.
The rising demand from the iron and steel industry is expected to drive product adoption.
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