MIT finds ‘green’ way to smelt iron


Scientists have unveiled a new method for extracting metallic iron from its ore while curbing emissions of carbon dioxide.

This is achieved with electrolysis and has the added benefit of releasing oxygen as a byproduct, a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported in the journal Nature.

The new method, molten oxide electrolysis, “offers both a substantial simplification of the process and a significant reduction in energy consumption,” the researchers wrote.

The team developed chromium-based anodes that can handle the high temperature and corrosion of the electrical current flowing through them. Previous attempts at electrolysis iron extraction had used expensive iridium-based anodes. A Nature press statement described the new anodes as “affordable and durable.”