CCRA is a not-for-profit organization that continues to demonstrate a successful collaboration between the Canadian coal and steel members and the Federal Government. This relationship has existed since 1965.

CCRA is a well managed organization and has been a very key partner to Canadian coal and steel industry over many years. The CCRA has historically met the challenges to meet its members technical needs.  One of the keys for CCRA success is its ability to change with changing industry priorities.  Historically our program has addressed the needs pertaining to coal, coal marketing, cokemaking, coke quality and BF performance, PCI, and PCI burnout.  More recently we have been very active in the development and application of bio-based carbon for cokemaking and ironmaking and have also started investigating the use of biocarbon for EAF slag foaming to reduce the carbon footprint of the steel production processes.

Part of CCRA mandate is align our R&D activities with the Federal Government policies and goals, which is to currently decarbonise the steel industry in Canada.  With the announcements from two of the three-member steel companies that have publicly committed to achieve decarbonization by altering their steel production routes from the traditional cokemaking/ironmaking route to scrap/DRI and EAF, the CCRA road map for guide R&D activities needs to change.

To reach net-zero emissions, facilities such as the EAF, reheat furnaces, and many other smaller points of fossil fuel use still must be addressed. Alternative fuels will play a key role in this (H2, biofuels/RNG), but CCU and CCS must also be pursued to meet the needs of all steel members, as well as other heavy industry partners.

The CCRA recognizes that all industrial sectors are seeking technical solutions to decarbonize, and steel is one of these sectors. We must also recognize that other heavy industries are facing similar challenges i.e., Teck, ferrosilicon (Elkem), cement (LaFarge), limestone/dolomite production (Carmeuse) and others within heavy industry.  Many industries have common challenges so we should work together.

Overall, CCRA must be visionaries during this transformational change period and prepare for the future.  The Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) see the CCRA as a technical leader in research and implementation of solutions for their members going forward.  CCRA has a long history and successful collaboration with CanmetENERGY-Ottawa in technology development. This collaboration will continue and extend to other Canmet Laboratories at NRCan (CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, CanmetENERGY-Varennes and CanmetMATERIALS-Hamilton) to work on boarder scope of technology transformation and implementation for coal producers, steel producers, and other heavy industries.

The CCRA program is updated to meet the current challenges. The Net Zero Emission Process Development program was added to the existing Blast furnace process enhancement program. The new CCRA program consists of the following:

  • Blast furnace process enhancement
    • Fundamentals of coal science
    • Blast furnace carbon efficient enhancement
  • Net Zero Emission Process Development
    • Supply of Alternate Reductants and Alternative Fuels
    • Utilization of Alternative Reductants (Biocarbon, H2, Electrons)
    • Utilization of Alternate Heating (Renewable Fuels and Non-Emitting Electricity)
    • CO2 Capture, Utilization , Transportation and Storage
    • System Integration and Optimization

The table below summarizes the program and sub-program of the CCRA R&D activities. The CCRA Board of Directors will continue to evolve the activities with input from all perspective parties.

  Program Sub-Program
Blast Furnace Process Efficiency Enhancement Fundamentals of Coal Science ISO and ASTM Coal and Coke Standards
Exploration Sample Assessment for Current and New Coal Mines in Canada
Mineral Matters in Western Canadian coal
Characterization of Coal Washing Plant Streams and Product Quality Upgrade
Small Scale Coking
Performance of Western Canadian Coal in Stamp Charge
Performance of Canadian Coals in High Inert Blends
Technical Merits of Western Canadian Coals
Blast Furnace Carbon Efficiency Enhancement Blast Furnace Energy Reduction Initiatives using Auxiliary Fuel Injection
Factors Affecting Coke Bed Permeability
Coke Degradation Mechanism
High Temperature Properties of Coke
Net Zero Emission Process Development Supply of Alternate Reductants and Alternate Fuels Sustainable biomass feedstock supply and biogenic reductants and fuels production
Regional H2 hub establishment
Non-emitting electricity supply and electricity grid delivery infrastructure development
Utilization of Alternate Reductant (Biocarbon, H2, Electron) Solid Biocarbon Utilization
Renewable Gaseous Reductant (H2 and/or Biogenic gases) Utilization
Electron Utilization
Utilization of Alternate Heating (Renewable Fuels and Non-Emitting Electricity) Fuel Switching-Biogenic fuels and/or  H2/H2 carriers utilization for heating
Electrical Heating Utilization
Small modular reactor (SMR) for heating
Waste Heat Recovery and Utilization
CO2 Capture, Utilization, Transportation and Storage Further development of post combustion CO2 capture technology
Application of CO2 capture in iron and steel production
Utilization of captured CO2
Transportation of captured CO2
Long term storage of captured CO2
System Integration and Optimization Assessment of decarbonization scenarios on downstream process and product properties
Process Integration
Business case assessment


A technical roadmap is currently in development to guide CCRA R&D activities. For the purpose of roadmap development, the CCRA program is categorized into 3 themes by anticipated industrial scale implementation dates based on the complexity of the tasks involved. It should be noted that R&D of all three themes will proceed in parallel. The categorization is to reflect the anticipated difference in technical challenges that leads to difference in efforts to mature the technology for industrial scale implementation.

Theme 1 – Continue support for existing Coal, Coke, and Blast Furnace Ironmaking:

  • The proposed changes in the CCRA Research Program will encompass the current work we do for coal/coke/cokemaking/BF.
  • This work will continue, but the funding for this work needs to come from cost recovery monies as the support for this is not favourable to the Fed’s given their current priorities.
  • The carbonization work is still important for both existing coal members, but also to support new coal mining ventures.
  • The coal industry is an important sector to Canada’s GDP, and CCRA has helped provide the technical marketing tools that will still be needed to compete with other global producers.
  • Ironmakers still will be coke focused for the next 5-10 years and support is still needed in both cost recovery and R&D as quality raw materials that are used become limited to the steel sector.

Theme 2 – GHG reduction technology to be implemented in near future (5-10 years):

  • Support industrial transition to lower GHG steelmaking routes.
    • Pareto of CO2 generation in steel plants and heavy industries – would need companies to provide so we can see the size of the problem.
    • Recognition of potential further reduction in GHG within heavy industries.
  • Biofuels will continue to play a key role in industrial decarbonization. Current applications in coke and iron will continue, but further work is needed in other areas
    • Biocarbon application in the EAF, this work has started but is becoming more important in Canada. This will have broader applications to other CSPA member companies.
    • Biomass supply chain development – need a better understanding of quality, quantity, and location/supply routes for Canadian biomass – forestry has strong potential.
    • Biogas/RNG applications – potential to replace process NG.
  • Develop key partnerships and funding opportunities for industrial partners/members
    • Working with Indigenous groups which is most important for stakeholders.

Theme 3 – Decarbonisation technology to be implemented in long term (10 years+):

  • This work would encompass the non-fossil fuel conversion of heavy industry using electrons and hydrogen.
  • Alternative green fuels and processes.
  • Hydrogen will need support from other industries and regional hubs to support demand and lower prices
    • Understand key users and identify potential hydrogen hubs
    • Development of supply technologies (e.g., electrolysers)
    • Steelmaking research to focus on H2 substitution
  • Development of CCS and CCU for various heavy industries.
    • Develop key partnerships and funding opportunities for industrial partners/members. Business plan development.
  • By-products of CO2 capture.
  • Business case development.


Ted Todoschuk,

Board Chairman Canadian Carbonization Research Association