Charcoal results from burning or carbonizing wood. In addition to everyday use as a fuel in heaters, fireplaces, barbecue grills, and wood stoves, charcoal is also used in some industrial sectors such as steelworks.
The Brazilian steel industry uses bio-based reducing agents or their byproducts. Production of steel using charcoal has grown significantly, which is reflected in the 86% increase in the consumption of charcoal derived from planted forests to produce pig iron domestically, and has continued to grow over the past three years. In terms of planted area for charcoal production, steel producers have 842,400 hectares of trees planted for economic use, and also provide technical and financial support for outgrower programs which foster tree planting. (Instituto Aço Brasil, 2015).
Brazil is the clear global leader in steel production using charcoal to reduce iron ore, because of the biomass available. While other large steel-producing countries use coal coke to reduce iron ore, approximately 10% of steel produced in Brazil is made using charcoal, which provides significant environmental and competitive advantages (Instituto Aço Brasil, 2015).
These advantages include higher quality pig iron and less intense carbon dioxide emissions (tons of CO2/ton of steel) than other steel-producing countries, as well as offsetting the greenhouse gases generated in the industrial process by CO2 absorption in the forests during photosynthesis.