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Some 4 billion tons of red mud (an agressive byproduct of aluminium production) have built up around the world. In this video, ISNALDI R. FILHO SOUZA explains how iron can be extracted from red mud. His research involves hydrogen plasma species acting as a reducing agent in a conventional electric arc furnace to convert iron oxides to metallic iron. Filho Souza shows how this process produces iron pure enough to be used in steel production and by products (in contrast to red mud) of neutral character. With potential to produce 6 million tons of iron, further research will look to enable an upscaling of the process in collaboration with industry partners.


Dr. Isnaldi R. Filho Souza is Group Leader for Sustainable Synthesis of Materials at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung. He lectures at RWTH Aachen University and has ongoing collaborations with ETH Zurich, University of Oulu (Finland) and the University of Sao Paolo, where he completed his PhD (2019). Filho Souza’s main research interests include sustainable metallurgy, green steel and hydrogen-plasma based reduction of iron ores. The recipient of both a Max Planck Postdoctoral Scholarship (2020-21) and an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship (2021-22), Filho Souza authored the cover paper of the Journal of Materials Science (JMSC) in June 2022.


Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung

Novel alloys for automotive lightweight design and airplane turbines, materials for sustainable energy conversion and storage, and the development of big data and machine learning methods – these are just a few examples of the research areas that are being investigated by the scientists of the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung. The team of engineers, material scientists, physicists, and chemists develops tailored materials and methods for mobility, energy, infrastructure, and information. To this end, the researchers study complex materials with atomic precision under real environmental conditions.
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Original publication

Green steel from red mud through climate-neutral hydrogen plasma reduction

Isnaldi R. Filho Souza, Matic Jovičević-Klug, Hauke Springer, Christian Adam and Diercke Raabe
Springer Nature
Published in 2024