Chinese startup tackles 2bn tons of slag with new technology

China’s environmental protection law stipulates that environmental protection taxes of 25 yuan ($3.8) per ton will be imposed on untreated steel slag.

Chinese startup tackles 2bn tons of slag with new technology


Steel plants in China produce around 1 billion tons of crude steel and about 300 million tons of slag annually.

As of this year, there are about 2 billion tons of steel slag in China. Dealing with this waste is thus a pressing problem. In conventional slag treatment, recyclable iron and magnetite are removed and the remaining slag is either ground into fine powder and sold as building material, or used for long-term landfills. Overall less than 30% of this slag is recycled, posing a risk of contamination of soil and groundwater.

Steelmakers are located upstream of the environmental protection industry chain. As 40% of midstream companies aim to prevent water pollution, solid waste is a niche sector, leaving plenty of room for growth.

Greenore technology and its wholly owned subsidiary focus on disposal of solid waste and provide solutions that differ from conventional slag treatment methods.

Greenore’s method prevents water and air pollution from the strong acid used in slag treatment using a new technology. The new technique allows the company to cut the cost of procuring raw materials and burying solid waste, and will help it achievesustainable development goals. 

Greenore’s has an edge as the only company that has put this laboratory technology to practical use. After four years of research and development, the company has made efforts to operatefacilities stably since it began pretesting and a pilot test in 2015.

Greenore produces environmentally friendly raw materials that can help reduce carbon dioxide for value-added sectors, including paper, paint, plastic and rubber, through its high-precision processing technology.

The company has also partnered with steel and paper manufacturers, as well as plastics factories in China to put its technology to practical industrial use.

A joint venture between Greenore and Chinese steelmaker Baogang Group successfully launched the world’s first 1,000-ton model plant, which plans to treat 100,000 tons of steel slag, starting later this year.

Greenore’s founding team hails from a university lab, but also has extensive experience in factories. Greenore and its parent, GreenOre CleanTech, are startups established by a scientific research team at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Earth Institute. Columbia’s Zhou Xiaozhou is Greenore’s co-founder & CEO, while Dr. Zhao Huang Jing is its chief technology officer.

Greenore has logged 10 million yuan ($1.53 million) in sales from last year to this year. The company also plans to raise around 10 million yuan and use the raised funds for the following:

First, the company plans to expand its R&D team, have its industrial technology team build a slag plant and improve a module facility.

Second, it will build a marketing team to tighten relations with big steelmakers and grab market share. It will also participate in government and private environmental conservation activities to increase its name recognition.

Lastly, it will strengthen tie-ups with third-party platforms handling artificial intelligence and big data to achieve its medium- to long-term goal of building “a cloud factory.”

36Kr, a Chinese tech news portal founded in Beijing in 2010, has more than 150 million readers worldwide. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22, 2019.

Originally published at Nikkei asia