LIBERTY Steel Group | Select another site to see content specific to your location Change site

Website select
Global United Kingdom Czech Republic Romania Belgium Italy North Macedonia Poland Luxembourg Hungary
  • 18/09/2023
  • Blog

LIBERTY Steel UK spearheads Innovation Drive

Jeffrey Kabel – Chief Transformation Officer, LIBERTY Steel


Since LIBERTY Steel UK announced its transformation strategy at the start of this year, the business has seen a wave of initiatives and innovation that aim to give the business a strong future.

  • Carbon capture trials launched in partnership with the University of Sheffield
  • Ecoke trials show potential to cut steel’s carbon footprint by as much as 30%
  • Advanced Machining Centre enhances customer offer
  • LIBERTY Hartlepool one of few firms globally able to produce hydrogen pipelines

Cutting-Edge Carbon Capture Trials

In August LIBERTY Speciality Steels joined with the University of Sheffield to start carbon capture trials at LIBERTY’s Brinsworth site. The concept captures carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions directly from their point of origin, securely storing the captured CO2 underground or repurposing it for production of alternative fuels, base chemicals, cosmetics.

The trailblazing trials – part of LIBERTY’s drive to become carbon neutral by 2030 – are being conducted as part of the SUSTAIN Steel Research Hub project, a venture led by Swansea University. It brings together more than twenty partners across the UK steel industry on a seven-year research programme: primary manufacturers, supply chain, trade bodies, academic experts, and research organisations.

Ed Heath-Whyte, LIBERTY Steel UK Head of Environment and Sustainability said: “By focusing on applying this state-of-the-art technology to a hot rolling mill furnace, the trials aim to validate its effectiveness. If successful, this practice has the potential to be scaled across the UK, heralding a transformative shift within the industry”.

Ecoke: A Game-Changer for Carbon Reduction in the Steel Industry

It’s one of many LIBERTY Steel UK projects aimed at reducing emissions. The business this year successfully completed trials of ecoke – a sustainable new raw material that can replace anthracite, the main source of charge carbon in electric steelmaking, and reduce steel’s carbon footprint by as much as 30%.

Ecoke opens an immense opportunity both within LIBERTY’s businesses and potentially in other areas of the steel industry worldwide. Production at LIBERTY’s electric arc furnace in Rotherham already generates just 10% of the direct emissions compared with traditional coal-based blast furnaces which produce most of the UK’s steel output.

Scott Jackson, Plant Manager at ACP of LIBERTY Speciality Steel said: “The significant reductions in CO2 emissions ecoke enables, without any downside to the production process, can help to further decarbonise our production and the wider steel industry.”

A Hub of Cutting-Edge Machines and Innovation

The business’s commitment to innovation is evident from Liberty’s Advanced Machining Centre (AMC) in Stocksbridge – a UK hub for cutting-edge machines and innovations. AMC takes on complex projects that cater to a wide range of industries: Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Yellow Goods, Industrial Machinery, and General Engineering.

At the heart of the centre are ten multitasking machines capable of performing multiple operations simultaneously – turning, milling, grinding, drilling, tapping, and deep-hole boring. This is all done with precision, premium quality, and speed. Skilled engineers ensure everything runs smoothly.

Operations Manager Andrew Smedley says, ” The Advanced Machining Centre adds a special touch to what customers receive. For instance, if an aerospace client needs specific products like landing gears or engines, they get exactly that when they work with LIBERTY. No need to hunt for additional suppliers to convert the steel into final products. We handle the downstream process, and that’s where our strength lies.”

Pioneering Hydrogen Pipeline Production

LIBERTY has this year also taken a major step in its aim to support the UK’s development of low carbon hydrogen technologies. LIBERTY Pipes Hartlepool successfully passed trials to become the first UK company and one of only a handful globally able to produce pipelines for safe transportation and storage of hydrogen. The initiative fits perfectly with LIBERTY’s global drive to develop supplies hydrogen to produce lower carbon steel at sites such as the Whyalla steelworks in south Australia.

LIBERTY’s 42” submerged arc welded line pipe meets international requirements for hydrogen piping and pipelines, expected to see rising demand to meet the demands of the transition to Net Zero. Martin Connelly, Technical Director for LIBERTY Pipes Hartlepool said: “We see huge demand in this market and believe it positions us well in forthcoming tenders for several hydrogen service projects.”

A Three-Step Approach to Operational Excellence

At the same time, LIBERTY Steel UK teams are implementing continuous improvement programmes to enable faster production, greater efficiency, and enhanced safety. As an example, the Downstream teams have been working on visual management projects to audit operational processes, identify issues and resolve them. It’s a three-step process:


  1. Visual Management that sets and shows required standards.
  2. Issues raised to the team leader during the morning review for shift manager support.
  3. Unresolved issues are escalated by the shift manager for support in the daily operations meeting.


Mark Holden, Plant Manager for Downstream at HVM, said: “The audit process obviously must be built into everyday working life for it to be sustained, which is the hard part. Over the coming months, we aim to standardize the procedures and continue to develop all the good improvement ideas put forward by all the teams. A lot of hard work has gone into the projects so far, and the results are visible to everyone who visits.”

All these initiatives are testament to the UK business’ deep reservoir of skills and experience and a determination to see it thrive.