This case was adjudged Runner-up in the Project Management Institute (PMI) 2019 Instructional Case Writing Competition at the Decision Sciences Institute Annual Meeting

HIsarna – Developing a Sustainable Steel Production Process

HIsarna – Developing a Sustainable Steel Production Process
Case Code: OPER144
Case Length: 15 Pages
Period: 2011-2017
Pub Date: 2020
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: Tata Steel
Industry: Metals & Mining
Countries: India, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Germany, UK
Themes: Project Management, Production Management, Sustainable Production, Production Technology
HIsarna – Developing a Sustainable Steel Production Process
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case is about HIsarna, a new steel production technology developed as an alternative to the existing steel production technologies which were not only energy intensive but also high on CO2 emissions. The new process was developed in the wake of the Paris Agreement, which aimed at reducing CO2 emissions globally. The European Union targeted cutting down the emissions to 80-90% of 1990 levels by 2050. The European Union was also looking at adopting a circular economy, which would not only reduce pressure on the environment but also enhance the security of the supply of raw materials and lead to economic growth. As far as the steel industry was concerned it was looking at increasing the efficiency of production and to redesigning production processes to reduce CO2 emissions. Toward this end, the steel industry in Europe formed a consortium called Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) in 2004 to identify technologies that would help reduce carbon emissions, ensure energy efficiency, and allow flexibility in the selection of raw materials in the steel industry. The consortium was of the view that a completely new process needed to be developed as the limits of the existing production systems had already been achieved. This resulted in the development of a breakthrough technology, HIsarna, which removed a number of energy-intensive pre-processes and provided flexibility in terms of the quality of raw materials and use of fuels. In the process, the CO2 emissions fell by 20%, and by capturing the high quality CO2, the emissions could be reduced by 80%. The emissions of other fine particles could also be reduced. The technology was tested in a pilot plant of Tata Steel Europe in the Netherlands and the € 75 million project was funded by ULCOS, the European Union, and the Dutch government. HIsarna was a combination of two different technologies, one from metal and mining company Rio Tinto and the other from Tata Steel. After years of trial runs and experiments, Tata Steel was all set to take the new sustainable production process to industrial scale. This called for more investments and it remained to be seen whether steel majors from across the world would show an interest in adopting the new technology in a bid to reduce emissions, or whether they would continue with the traditional steel making processes.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • To examine how the steel industry can move toward a low-carbon future and reduce the negative impact of its production
  • To examine in depth the circular economy and the role of steel
  • To understand the industry’s approach toward sustainable production
  • To demonstrate the way in which manufacturing processes can be redesigned to increase production efficiency and achieve lower emissions



Hisarna, Sustainable Steel Production, ULCOS, Circular Economy, Low Carbon Future, Production Efficiency, Lower emissions, Efficient Production Process, Reducing CO2 Emissions, Scaling Up

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