Posts Tagged ‘Rio Tinto Group’

New ‘green’ ironmaking passes first test, funding approved

Current steelmaking technologies only have limited scope for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For the industry to achieve significant cuts in emissions, of 50% or more, breakthrough technologies will be needed. Although these are still several years away from commercial operation, a number of research projects are achieving results in their test phases. In particular part private, part state-funded projects in Japan, Korea and the EU are developing new technologies.

SBB 1 July Tata Steel’s 60,000 t/y HIsarna ironmaking pilot plant in IJmuiden has successfully completed its first test campaign, the company tells Steel Business Briefing. It is now preparing for a second round of tests in October or November.

The project has also been approved for further funding from the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS), which distributes around €55m ($80m) per year to industrial research projects in the sector. The project has been selected for funding by the RFCS and representatives of European member states, and received final confirmation from the European Commission, SBB understands from a source close to the RFCS.

The first round of tests was a success and only minor alterations are needed before the second round, Tata says. The new tests aim to achieve stable, longer operating periods.

Because the project is part of the Ultra-low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme, further tests can only be conducted once representatives of other ULCOS members and officials are available to be present, in accordance with ULCOS protocol, SBB understands.

ULCOS is a consortium of steelmakers and others that aims to develop new technologies which can cut emissions from steelmaking by at least 50%.

The technology is jointly owned by Tata steel and Rio Tinto and can produce hot metal directly from iron ore fines and low-volatile coal, eliminating the need for coking and sintering. This could result in a cut of 20% in emissions than that produced by a standard blast furnace; emissions could be reduced a further 60% by using carbon capture and storage.


Shougang trials waste plastic in coke-making at Tangshan

In addition to looking at their own emissions, steelmakers have some opportunities to help reduce the environmental impact of other materials. The use of plastic, both as a source of carbon units and for the physical properties it can give to coke, could be one way of doing this profitably.

SBB 9 June A subsidiary of north China steel giant Shougang Group named Shouhuan Technique, based in Hebei province’s Tangshan, has begun introducing waste plastic in its coking operations aiming to supplement coking coal and help cut production costs.

Trials using a pilot plant began in May and Shouhuan Technique hopes to use about 10,000 tonnes/year of soft plastic waste such as sheeting and bags for blending with low-caking coking coal. These are then carbonised to produce coke.

A Shougang researcher tells Steel Business Briefing that its method differs from that of say, the Japanese mills, where used PET bottles are granulized first before being used in the coke ovens. Shougang directly blends soft waste plastic with low-caking coking coal before sending the result to a reaction chamber.

“The key step in the process is to perfectly control the temperature to ensure the waste plastic melts rather than burns so that it enhances the caking ability of the (weak) coking coals,” he says. Indeed, results to date show the ‘molded coal’ obtained through the process produces coke of sufficient quality for use in Shougang’s 4,000 cubic m blast furnace in Tangshan.

“However, the (pilot) plant’s scale is small and we need to wait to see how successful the process is for reducing costs,” says the researcher. “But I believe it will perform well, as the price of waste plastic is much lower than premier coking coal.”

Products of Shouhuan Technique will be fed to Qian’an Zhonghua, a jv between Shougang and Kailuan Coke Ltd that supplies coke to the steelmaker’s works. The jv’s present coke-making capacity is 3.3m t/y. For now, plastics will meet only a tiny fraction of Shougang’s carbon units.

Tata Steel and Rio sign agreement over Hisarna smelting

Breathrough low CO2 stelmaking technologies will be essential if the industry is to significantly lower its emissions. But these technologies could also be commercial ventures. Some, such as HIsarna, could also reduce initial investments, land use and raw materials costs. Tata Steel and Rio Tinto hope that they can market the technology if trials are successful.

SBB 25 April Tata Steel and Rio Tinto have signed a licensing agreement over Hisarna, the direct iron smelting process being trialled at IJmuiden in the Netherlands. This will decide how the companies will benefit from selling the technology, Steel Business Briefing understands.

In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the technology could potentially reduce costs. Hisarna, developed as part of the European Ultra-Low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme, can produce hot metal from iron ore fines using thermal coal or charcoal. It therefore eliminates the need for coking and sintering and has lower raw material costs.

Under the agreement both parties will collaborate and share their knowledge over the two technologies combined in the process: cyclone pre-reduction and bath smelting. Rio Tinto recently abandoned its 800,000 t/y HIsmelt plant in Australia, which never reached full capacity because of technical difficulties, SBB notes.

The current HIsarna pilot smelter can produce 60,000 tonnes/year, though ULCOS intends to scale this up in the longer-term, SBB notes.

In future Hisarna could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 50% when combined with carbon capture and storage, according to a press release issued by Tata Steel.