Steel Times International July August 2020

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Decarbonising the steelmaking process

Two porous plugs are better than one, says Steel Authority of India

New creative heights for Physical Vapour Deposition (or PVD)

Analysing EAF voltage measurement

Since 1866 July/August 2020 - Vol.44 No5

STEEL TIMES INTERNATIONAL – July/August 2020 – Vol.44 No5


20/07/2020 06:41:44


AD-Pioneers-at-Heart-EN-297x210.indd 2

30.09.2019 07:48:09






Decarbonising the steelmaking process

Two porous plugs are better than one, says Steel Authority of India

New creative heights for Physical Vapour Deposition (or PVD)

Analysing EAF voltage measurement

Since 1866 July/August 2020 - Vol.44 No5

Front cover photo courtesy of John Cockerill

STEEL TIMES INTERNATIONAL – July/August 2020 – Vol.44 No5

The new John Cockerill branding on a continuous annealing line recently supplied to JSW Steel, India

32 Automotive Reliable steel solutions.

2 Leader By Matthew Moggridge, editor, Steel Times International.

35 Oxygen steelmaking Two porous plugs better than one?

4 News round-up The latest global news.


38 Lubricants Minimising water risk.


20/07/2020 06:41:44

EDITORIAL Editor Matthew Moggridge Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855151 Consultant Editor Dr. Tim Smith PhD, CEng, MIM Production Editor Annie Baker Advertisement Production Martin Lawrence SALES International Sales Manager Paul Rossage Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855116 Sales Director Ken Clark Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855117 Managing Director Tony Crinion Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855164 Chief Executive Officer Steve Diprose SUBSCRIPTION Elizabeth Barford Tel +44 (0) 1737 855028 Fax +44 (0) 1737 855034 Email


12 USA update Imports boost despite virus.

44 Steel processing New creative heights for PVD.

14 Latin America update Corona ratings deemed ‘positive’.

47 Electric steelmaking Analysing EAF voltage measurement.

17 Innovations The latest contracts and new products from international plant builders and suppliers.

51 Process control Increase productivity, reduce energy.

24 Ironmaking Decarbonising the steelmaking process.

54 Perspectives Q&A: Philippi-Hagenbuch We are happy and optimistic.

29 Environment Hydrogen offers CO2-free heating.

56 History A bridge too far.

Steel Times International is published eight times a year and is available on subscription. Annual subscription: UK £195.00 Other countries: £270.00 2 years subscription: UK £350.00 Other countries: £485.00 ) Single copy (inc postage): £45.00 Email: Published by: Quartz Business Media Ltd, Quartz House, 20 Clarendon Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1QX, England. Tel: +44 (0)1737 855000 Fax: +44 (0)1737 855034


Steel Times International (USPS No: 020-958) is published monthly except Feb, May, July, Dec by Quartz Business Media Ltd and distributed in the US by DSW, 75 Aberdeen Road, Emigsville, PA 17318-0437. Periodicals postage paid at Emigsville, PA. POSTMASTER send address changes to Steel Times International c/o PO Box 437, Emigsville, PA 17318-0437. Printed in England by: Pensord, Tram Road, Pontlanfraith, Blackwood,


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Contents.indd 1

July/August 2020

20/07/2020 06:48:09



We’re not out of the woods yet, but never say never...

Matthew Moggridge Editor

July/August 2020

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It would be wrong of me to suggest that COVID-19 is packing its bags and heading home (wherever that might be), but the fact that ‘other news’ is making itself known – think Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew and, dare I say it, Brooklyn Beckham’s ‘happy news’ – is a sure sign that the mass media is getting bored with stories of governmental incompetence. Over here in the UK the daily press briefings by the British Government stopped some weeks ago and now, far from frightening us all to ‘stay home, protect the NHS and save lives’, Boris Johnson and his sidekicks Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak, are advising us to throw caution to the wind, use public transport and eat out in pubs and restaurants – they’re even prepared to pay for our meals! Bring on herd immunity! Whereas a couple of issues ago we had plenty of illustrative nods to the virus scattered throughout our news pages and on the front cover, you will be pleased to note that this issue is less scary. The furore is dying down and some good news has crept in. But let’s not get too excited. Yes, it’s good to hear that average capacity utilisation in India has improved to 75%

and that Jindal Stainless has ramped up production for global markets. It’s great to note that US Steel has restarted its number one blast furnace in the Mon Valley, Pittsburgh, and that Cleveland Cliffs has restarted its Tilden mine, but it’s not all good news: Expansion at JSW has been put back, US Steel is indefinitely idling its 1 and 2 weld mills in Texas, POSCO is holding back on restarting one of its Gwangyang blast furnaces, and the World Steel Association predicts that global steel demand will contract 6.4% because of COVID-19. And let’s not forget the prospect of a second wave as winter approaches. But let’s not get too downhearted. I’m amazed at the resilience of all of us. Even here on Steel Times International we’ve tackled the virus head on, we’re all working from home and we’ve been running our highly successful Free Webinar Programme 2020, with top speakers tackling some of the big issues affecting the global steel industry today. There will be more of these webinars as the year progresses and if you missed them first time round, visit https:// where you will find recorded versions of them all.

15/07/2020 11:10:13


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• Russian steelmaker NLMK Group’s flagship production site, NLMK Lipetsk, has completed performance testing of new air purification systems installed on facilities that underwent capital repairs in late 2019, namely Basic Oxygen Furnace No. 2, which has a capacity in excess of 3Mt/ yr of steel and Blast Furnace No. 6, which has a capacity of 3.4Mt/yr of pig iron. Source: NLMK, 27 May 2020.

• Former Big River Steel executive Mark Bula (pictured above) has been appointed chief strategy officer and general manager of steel for, a Californiabased artificial intelligence business. Bula will be responsible for the strategic leadership of overall growth plans and will spearhead the company’s efforts in the steel industry. Source:, 27 May 2020.

• The World Steel Association has announced its sustainability champions for 2019. In total, nine companies are recognised including big hitters like ArcelorMittal and newcomers such as Bluescope Steel, China Steel Corporation and Nippon Steel Corporation. Source: World Steel Association, 3 June 2020.

• Indian stainless steel manufacturer Jindal Stainless Limited (JSL), claims it has regained its footing in export volumes by rampingup production for global markets. With India yet to completely lift the lockdown, JSL’s strategic initiative to recapture volumes in export markets is said to be yielding encouraging results. In the month of May, the company despatched export orders of over 12kt, comprising more than 40% of all shipments. Source: JSL, 4 June 2020.

• Irvine, California-based 174 Power Global, a leading solar energy company, and Gerdau Long Steel North America, a leading steel producer, today announced that the two companies have entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement to develop one of the largest behind-the-meter solar facilities in the nation. Source: Gerdau, 2 June 2020. July/August 2020

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• The average capacity utilisation of Indian steelmakers in May has improved to 75% following the fall in demand experienced by the industry during the April COVID-19 lockdown. Companies such as JSW and Jindal Steel and Power have released some promising production figures, but most of the products being produced are for export markets. JSW’s capacity utilisation rose from 38% in April to 83% in May. Jindal

Steel and Power’s steel sales were up 28% year-onyear. State-owned SAIL was operating at 55% while Tata Steel managed 65-70%. Source: Livemint, 7 June 2020.

• Global steel demand will contract 6.4% in 2020 as a direct result of COVID-19, according to the World Steel Association’s Short Range Outlook, but will bounce back in 2021. The worldsteel forecast is that 1.65 billion tonnes of crude steel will be produced this year and that production will increase 3.8% to 1.71 billion tonnes in 2021. Source: World Steel Association, 4 June 2020.

• The Materials Processing Institute, a Teesside-based research and innovation centre, is to play a leading role in a £10m digitalisation project involving the UKbased Liberty Steel Group. The organisation will work alongside Liberty Steel Group’s Hartlepool Pipes mill, Stocksbridge-based Liberty Speciality Steels, Warwickshire-based Shiftec and TSC Simulation of Nottingham to create digital twins of the plants in order to demonstrate the huge advances that can be achieved within the production process. Chris Oswin, who leads the Institute's Digital Technologies Group (pictured above), said the real challenge was retrofitting to existing plant. Source: Materials Processing Institute, 7 June 2020.

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NEWS ROUND-UP • The European Commission’s steel safeguard review proposal does not consider the sharp collapse in demand following the COVID pandemic, putting the European steel industry's survival at further serious risk, according to the European • Unrest loomed at the Ilva steel plant in southern Italy because of potential job cuts reportedly planned by ArcelorMittal, which could run into the thousands. Trouble started brewing when Italy’s Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli accused the steelmaker of breaking the terms of an agreed rescue agreement. A new rescue plan involving 5,000 job cuts had been submitted by the world’s biggest steelmaker – and it was not been well received. Source: Reuter, 7 June 2020.

• There are signs of worker unrest at Tata Steel Europe’s IJmuiden plant in the Netherlands as the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) claims workers have voted to strike in protest against possible layoffs and the planned merger between the Dutch and UK mills. Workers have been protesting since Theo Henrar, CEO of the IJmuiden facility, made a sudden departure in May. Source: Yieh Corp Steel News, 8 June 2020.


Steel Association (EUROFER). Unbelievably, many EU governments have not yet decided to consider the pandemic as mitigating circumstances. Source: European Steel Association (EUROFER), 8 June 2020. • A strange Indian phrase appears to be baffling even the Indians as Google searches for 'Aatam Nirbhar Bharat' was used not only by Indian PM Narendra Modi, but also Sajjan Jindal, chairman of steelmaker JSW. Mr Jindal was talking to TV network CNBC-TV18 explaining how he expects the steel industry to return to normal by September/October of this year following the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that incentives were needed and duties rationalised before a state of 'Aatam Nirbar Bharat' can be attained. Meaning? It means self-reliant India. Source: CNBC, 8 June 2020.

• Russian steelmaker Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK) is continuing to implement its Industry 4.0 strategic initiative. Digitalisation is a key element of the company's development strategy up to 2025 and is covering an increasing number of MMK's business processes with a view to increasing productivity and product quality. Source: MMK, 8 June 2020.

• With exports down almost 40% (39.2%) there are reports that US Steel has issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices claiming that it will temporarily lay off up to 3,800 workers at the company’s Gary, Indiana, steel plant. Source: New York Times/Steel Orbis, 8 June 2020.

• There was a moderate Q1 fall in coking coal production in the USA as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to figures released by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). A report from Argus Media says that the impact of reduced output was softened by a sharper fall in demand and producers raising their output in the same quarter. Source: Argus Media, 8 June 2020.

• South Korean steel giant POSCO is holding back on restarting one of its nine blast furnaces in Gwangyang, 420km southwest of Seoul. The furnace was due to restart in late May following repair and maintenance, but has been delayed due to low demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are five POSCO blast furnaces in Gwangyang and four in Pohang, 375km southeast of Seoul. Source: Yonhap News Agency, 8 June 2020. July/August 2020

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• Two of Germany's biggest polluters, power company RWE and steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, are planning to join forces with a view to reducing carbon emissions by relying upon hydrogen. According to an announcement by ThyssenKrupp, the two giants have agreed to work together towards 'a longerterm hydrogen partnership' to reduce CO2 emissions from steel production. Source: ThyssenKrupp, 12 June 2020.

• In the USA, Cleveland Cliffs has restarted its Tilden mine, which has been idled since April because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has also restarted construction on a hot-briquetted iron (HBI) plant in Toledo as demand for steel increases (expected completion Q4 2020). The company expects to restart its Northshore Mining operations in Babbitt and Silver Bay by mid-August. Cleveland-Cliffs and AK Steel, a steel company bought by Cliffs earlier this year, are reaping the benefits of increased demand from the automotive sector. Source: Duluth News Tribune, 9 June 2020.

July/August 2020

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NEWS ROUND-UP • More good news for the American steel industry, this time from US Steel. The company has announced that it has restarted its idled 1.5Mt (short tons) number one blast furnace at its plant in the Mon Valley near Pittsburgh, PA. The blast furnace was idled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is back in business to meet increased demand for steel. Source: Argus Media, 9 June 2020.

• Looking at figures stretching back to 2014, the Ukrainian steelmaker Metinvest managed to hold on to 42nd place in the list of the world’s largest steel producers, as compiled by the World Steel Association. In 2019 the company produced 9.58Mt, up from 9.37Mt in 2018 and 9.59Mt in 2017 – all keeping the company in 42nd place. In 2016 the company produced 10.34Mt, taking it into 37th place and in 2015 it went to 40th place with 9.65Mt. In 2014 the steelmaker produced 11.18Mt and moved to 33rd place. Source: Interfax Ukraine News Agency, 9 June 2020.

• North American steel giant US Steel has vowed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030. The news comes as the steelmaker releases its 2019 sustainability report, which outlines the plans. US Steel’s recent 49.9% acquisition of Osceola, AK-based Big River Steel, will play a major contributory role in US Steel’s emissions reduction plan as the steel giant says that EAFbased steelmaking as well as energy-efficiency measures will form the backbone of the initiative. US Steel is the second largest steel producer in the UK. Source:, 10 June 2020.

• While some North American steelmakers have restarted idled mills and blast furnaces as steel demand improves, news from South Korea isn’t so rosy. POSCO, a leading South East Asia player, is delaying restarting its Gwangyang blast furnace following maintenance work and an expansion project and is blaming a slump in demand because of COVID-19. The company’s number three furnace will remain idle until around the end of June. Source: Argus Media, 10 June 2020.

• Previously reported worker unrest at the Tata Steel plant in IJmuiden in the Netherlands, has turned into industrial action, protesting against plans to cut 1,000 jobs. The workers want guarantees of no redundancies. The job cuts are said to be part and parcel of a wider restructuring of the company’s British-based European operations. Source:, 10 June 2020.

• India’s state-owned steelmaker Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has received a big export order from China. The company will be exporting 30kt of con cast slabs and 30kt of hot-rolled coil as well as 20kt of pig iron. Including orders from China, a total of 54kt of hot-rolled coil have been made and product has been shipped by rail to designated seaports, claims the company’s Manikant Dhan. SAIL’s Bhilai plant will be exporting 30kt of cast slabs to China. Source: Telegraph of India, 11 June 2020.

15/07/2020 13:44:15


• COVID-19 in the USA has led to a 17% slump in US raw steel production. Falling demand for steel has led US mills to slow production prompting capacity utilisation to dip to multi-year lows. Source: Yahoo Finance, 11 June 2020.

• The COVID-19 pandemic is having a detrimental effect on JSW Steel’s planned expansion project. The company’s joint managing director, Seshagiri Rao, is experiencing a shortage of workers and construction materials, which will likely put the completion date back from September 2020 to March 2021. The Indian steelmaker had already reduced its capital expenditure for expansion and mining. Source: Business Today, 11 June 2020. • ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, is to invest Rs 2,000 crore (US$300 million) in the Indian state of Odisha. It is thought the investment will most likely be on the Sagasahi and Thakurani iron ore mines in region. Source: Business Standard, 14 June 2020.

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• Russian steelmaker Severstal has ruled out any plans to get involved in industry consolidation in Europe, meaning that the list of potential partners for Germany’s ThyssenKrupp is narrowing. According to one online report, ThyssenKrupp might put its steel unit ‘on the block’. Source: New York Times/ Reuters, 12 July 2020.

• A fire broke out at POSCO’s Pohang Works in South Korea. The blaze started around 1230hrs on 13 June (Saturday) in North Gyeongsang Province, 365km southeast of Seoul. No casualities reported so far. Source: Yonhap News Agency, 13 June 2020.


• Indian steelmaker JSW Steel has told 11,000 of its 20,000 workers to work from home following 106 employees testing positive for COVID-19. According to deputy managing director Vinod Nowal the plant is operating at full capacity and the situation hasn’t impacted production. Source: India Times, 13 June 2020.

• Japanese steelmaker JFE Holdings Inc is anxious to discuss mergers with rivals following the devastation created by not only COVID-19, but also tough global competition and fading domestic demand. No firm deals have been agreed with any company yet, but JFE’s chief financial officer Masashi Terehata believes that cuts in production capacity will be necessary for any merger to be a success. Source: Gulf Times, 13 June 2020.

• US Steel will indefinitely idle its 1 and 2 Weld Mills in Lone Star, Texas. The idling of the mills, known as Lone Star Tubular operations, will impact 600 jobs, according to US Steel spokeswoman Meghan Cox. ‘Challenging market conditions and high import levels’ were the reasons given. US Steel’s Wheeling Machine Products plant at Hughes Springs will also be idled, but exactly how many jobs will be affected is not known yet. Source:, 12 June 2020.

• The Iranians are also producing more copper than they used to, with figures for the first two months of the current Iranian year (20 March 20 May) standing at 209kt showing an increase of 2%. Source: Financial Tribune, 15 June 2020.

July/August 2020

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• ThyssenKrupp Rasselstein, one of Europe’s biggest packaging steel manufacturers, in collaboration with Hoffmann Neopac of Switzerland, have developed the RecyCan project. Basically 100% of the steel for packaging is reused in can manufacturing. Packaging from households is ‘detinned’ and melted back to raw steel at Rasselstein’s mill. Source: Packaging News, 15 June 2020.

• Steel ingot production in Iran reached 4.6Mt during the first two months of the current Iranian year (20 March to 20 May). The figure is 4% higher than it was the previous year. Steel slab production was up 13% while steel billet and bloom output dipped 2%. Source: Tehran Times, 15 June 2020.


• COVID-19 is wreaking havoc at Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL). According to one online report, 40 senior and mid-level executives at the company tested positive for the virus, including the chairman and other directors working out of the company’s Delhi headquarters. SAIL’s personnel director, Atul Srivastava is said to have tested negative, but died of cardiac arrest. SAIL’s employee union, however, claim he was diagnosed COVID-19 positive. Source: Indian Express, 15 June 2020.

• COVID-19 has seen domestic demand for steel in Russia drop between 5% and 7%, according to Severstal, which claims that increased exports have helped the business maintain production capacity. While business improved in June, according to chief financial officer Alexey Kulichenko, it is 17% weaker than it was in 2019. Source: Reuters, 16 June 2020.

• Russian steelmaker MMK Group has hit a new output record at its sheet rolling shop number 11. In May the company produced 38kt of galvanised rolled metal at its 450kt/yr galvanising unit, up 1.5% on its previous record achieved back in August 2013. Source: Steel Orbis, 17 June 2020.

• Gerdau’s acquisition of Siderurgica Latino Americana (Silat) has been given the green light by Cade, the Brazilian anti-trust authority. Silat, based in the Brazilian state of Ceará, operates a 600kt/yr rebar and wire rod mill. The company is currently owned by Hierros Anon of Spain. There was opposition to the deal from Simec (Companhia Siderurgica do Espirito Santo SA). Source: Steel Orbis, 16 June 2020.

• Dharmendra Pradan, India’s Minister of Steel, wants the oil and gas industry to rely more upon domestic steel than imported steel and has asked steelmakers and oil companies to prepare a roadmap towards making it happen. Over the next 15 years it is estimated that the oil and gas sector will use around 50Mt of steel products, which would be good business for Indian mills. Source: Steel Orbis, 17 June 2020.

• JSW Steel USA is to restart its Mingo Junction EAF steel mill in Ohio and recall its 130 employees. The mill had been stopped to complete planned capital expenditure projects, including EAF modernisation and general maintenance. Source: Steel Orbis, 17 June 2020. July/August 2020

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• A 100 billion won (US$82.3 million) fund has been set up by rival steelmakers POSCO and Hyundai Steel and the Industrial Bank of Korea to assist smaller and mid-sized industry peers facing difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is designed to offer emergency relief loans of up to 1 billion won to financially challenged businesses. Source: Pulse, 18 June 2020. • Two lowemission, stampcharged coke oven batteries are destined for China’s Wutong Coal Chemical Park in Xiaoyi, around 650 km southwest of Beijing. The order was won by ThyssenKrupp’s chemical plant engineering business based in Essen, Germany. Source: Chemeng Online, 18 June 2020. • The Iranians have managed to export around 809kt of steel during the first two months of the current Iranian calendar year (20 March to 20 May). This is considerably lower than for the same period last year, when the country shipped 2Mt of steel. Source: Tehran Times, 19 June 2020.

Industry news.indd 6

• Mobarakeh Steel Company (MSC) produced 1.46Mt of finished steel during the first two months of Iran’s current fiscal year (20 March to 20 May), down 2% on the same period last year. Including semi-finished products (1.71Mt) the total figure was 3.18Mt of output. Source: Financial Tribune, 20 June 2020.

• A news report by the BBC claims that Tata Steel in the UK needs help in days, not weeks. According to comments made by Aberavon Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and nine other Welsh MPs, who wrote to the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, asking for extra government support for the ailing steelmaker, steel was the backbone of the UK manufacturing sector. He and his fellow MPs want the government to give Tata Steel a temporary loan to avoid the massive cost of doing nothing. Source:, 21 June 2020.

• In a region where COVID-19 has hit pretty badly, members of the Ballari District Chamber of Commerce have called for the closure of the JSW steel plant at Toranagal in the Ballari District of Karnataka, India. However, India’s Heavy and Medium Industries Minister, Jagadish Shettar, claims that a complete shutdown might adversely affect around 200,000 people dependent on the plant. Source: The Hindu, 22 June 2020.

• Andrey Davydov has been promoted to vice president and head of coal division at the London-based Evraz steel company. He replaces Sergey Stepanov who has left the business. Davydov led Evraz's Sukha Balka iron ore mine in Ukraine for five years before taking over management of the Sibugulemet coal group. Leonid Kachur is now an advisor to CEO Alexander Frolov. Kachur has been with Evraz since 1993, shortly after the company was formed. He had been senior vice president for business support and inter-regional relations. Source: Morning Star, 22 June 2020.


• Liberty Steel Group UK (LSUK) will be boosting production at its Rotherham, UK, facilities to over 1Mt/ yr through investments to expand product mix and make more productive use of its rolling mills. Source: Liberty Steel Group, 22 June 2020.

• A report by the Financial Times claims that ArcelorMittal is planning to sell infrastructure assets in Canada to reduce debts after the financial drubbing it received when key industries, such as car manufacturing and construction, ceased to demand steel at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A 420km railway line, servicing the company’s Mont-Wright iron ore mine in Quebec, is on the list of assets for sale. According to the FT, they might sell all or some of the assets in order to reduce net debt from $9.5 billion to $7 billion. Source: Financial Times, 22 June 2020. July/August 2020

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• LIBERTY Steel Group is the 8th largest steel producer outside China with 18Mt of steel products capacity. It employs 30,000 people across 10 countries and is organised into three divisions: LIBERTY Primary Steel and Integrated Mining; LIBERTY GREENSTEEL and; LIBERTY Steel Synergies. Source: Liberty Steel Group.

• In 2004, the world’s top 10 steel producers included only one Chinese company, Shanghai Baosteel; the other top firms were American, European, Indian, and South Korean. Back then, just 25.8% of the world’s steel was made in China. In 2018 (the latest year with data available), six of the world’s largest steel companies were Chinese, some of them governmentowned, and China accounted for 51.3% of global steel production – a figure not including Chinese companies in other countries. Source: Foreign

• In 2005, China produced 12.9% of the world’s stainless steel, while Europe produced 34.8% and the United States 9.2%. By 2018, China had more than quadrupled its share to 52.6% of the world’s stainless steel, while Europe’s share had shrunk to 15.6% and the United States had just a 5.5% share. Source: Foreign

Steel produced using new hydrogen and clean-energy based methods will be 80-95% less CO2-intensive by 2050 than they are today, but will also cost significantly more to produce. However, the environmental benefits are huge, claims the European Steel Association (EUROFER). Source: European Steel Association (EUROFER).

Pic courtesy of ArcelorMittal. • 7th July marked the 90th anniversary of the start of construction on the Hoover Dam and it was an ArcelorMittal legacy company, Bethlehem Steel, that made it possible, according to the world’s biggest steelmaker. In total, it took 96 million pounds of steel and metal to create the dam, with steel forms holding the concrete in place while it cooled. Were it not for the steel supplied by Bethlehem Steel, it would have taken 125 years to cool. Instead of a continuous pour, engineers decided to pour the concrete in 230 large columns, reinforced with 600 miles of steel pipes. By running cold water through the pipes, the curing was done much quicker. Source: ArcelorMittal.

Industry news.indd 7

15/07/2020 13:53:56


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Europe Asia Americas

25/06/2020 13:21:05



Imports boost despite virus In April exported steel surged into the USA, prompting pundits to offer a plethora of explanations. When compared to 2019, imports for the first four months of the current year were much lower. By Manik Mehta* THE American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), representing North American steelmakers, noted in its latest report that total US steel imports rose by 58.2% in April, compared to the previous month, to roughly 2.77Mt (all figures in this article are net tons). But finished steel imports fell 13.5% to around 1.31Mt for the reported month. Finished steel imports from Brazil posted a significant rise in April. Total and finished domestic steel imports fell 20.3% and 28.2% respectively during the first four months of 2020 over the yearearlier period. The AISI figures are based on Census Bureau data. The decline in imports in the first four months is attributed to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic – Covid-19 – and the 25% tariff on steel imports, which the Trump administration imposed in 2018 under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. AISI noted that major suppliers of imported finished steel in April were South Korea at 161kt (down 22% from March),

Brazil 69kt (up 388%), Japan 68kt (up 21%), Germany 64kt (down 7%) and Turkey 63kt (up 62%). The rise in imports from certain countries suggests that US buyers of steel still rely on imports to meet their requirements despite the tariffs. US steel prices have been hit by Covid-19 coupled with declining demand within the traditional steel-consuming industries, particularly, automotive and construction. Pundits and other crystal-ball gazers had predicted a rise in steel prices about five months back, domestic steel prices began falling amid growing concerns over the proliferating pandemic in the US accompanied by a lull in demand in the automotive sector. Indeed, the present lowlevel in demand could impact the recovery in prices in the short term. The automotive industry, a major buyer of steel, has been badly hit by a slowdown in the current pandemic. Also exacerbating the current low demand is the slump in crude-oil prices, adversely affecting

demand for steel in the energy sector; some major energy companies have slashed spending as a result of the oil- price slump. The oil price slump has also driven US Steel and other steel makers to idle their production operations because of falling demand from major end user industries. Indeed, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. CLP, an integrated producer of iron ore and steel, which had purchased AK Steel earlier this year, has also temporarily shut down production at two of its iron-ore mining operations because of a weak market, and is adjusting its iron-ore production in the first six months of 2020.

* USA correspondent July/August 2020

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Weak demand from the major steelconsuming industries has also caused a drop in capacity utilisation among US steelmakers, forcing the latter to temporarily close down operations and scale down production. The rate of capacity utilisation, an indicator of the US steel industry’s health, slumped to 53.2% for the week ending 23 May from 80.8% a year ago, according to the AISI. Experts fear that the ongoing pandemic could have a long-term impact on the US steel market, though nobody has exactly pinpointed how – or to what extent. Before this fear began making the rounds in steel circles, many had been optimistic that the coronavirus had not yet affected US steel production. But things changed dramatically when reports surfaced that America’s leading three car manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler – the ‘Big Three’ as they are called – were halting their North American production. Besides the ‘big three’, others too had cut down their output by some 33,000 vehicles per day and, in effect, eliminated an estimated 1.5Mt of steel consumption from 18 March to 18 May. This further impacted downstream demand, with steel producers from Arcelor Mittal to US Steel announcing temporary closure of blast furnaces totaling over 10Mt of lost annual domestic capacity. In the circumstances, prices are likely to remain depressed until demand and confidence return. But many steel experts fear that if US assets remain depressed in these economically challenging times, they are not sure who could come forth to provide the badlyneeded capital infusion,

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and which of these companies can survive the crisis. The coming weeks and months will provide indications on the extent of the impact of the slowdown. US Steel idled its Lorain Tubular Operations and laid off 250 workers as of 24 May. US Steel’s spokesperson, Meghan Cox, was quoted saying that the layoffs were ‘in line with what was previously announced’ in March when the company said that the decision to close the plant was driven by weak market conditions for tubular steel, large-scale imports and the price and demand for oil, though it did not specifically mention COVID-19 among the reasons. On another note, US Steel signed a longterm contract to supply iron ore to Algoma Steel of Ontario, Canada. The Pittsburghbased steel producer operates two mines in northern Minnesota that supply iron ore to its Gary works and other steel units. The company will also supply iron-ore pellets to Algoma Steel for four years – from 2021 to 2024. In March, US Steel had idled its Keetac mine located in Minnesota’s Iron Range, from where iron-ore pellets are shipped on lake freighters across Lake Michigan to the Gary Works and the Midwest Plant steel mills. About 375 steelworkers were laid off as a result of this closure. A month later, in April, US Steel announced the sale of an option to buy a 25% interest in its Minntac iron-ore


operations. US Steel president/CEO, David Burritt, said that the asset revitalisation investments made in the company’s critical steelmaking assets in the past few years had enhanced safety, quality, delivery and cost performances as the company built on the cost and capability benefits of being an integrated producer. With its electric arc furnaces in Alabama getting completed, the company is continuing its investments in the Mon Valley Works and upgrades in its hot-strip mill at Gary Works. Meanwhile, the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is seeking, effective 26 May 2020, public input on Section 232 of the aforementioned Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which was used by President Donald Trump, on the recommendation of the Secretary of Commerce, to take actions to adjust imports of goods found to be imported into the US in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to jeopardise national security. US steel companies are urged to provide the BIS a full picture of how the current process has, or has not, worked for them, as officials consider if and how to amend the review process. BIS has asked for comments before 10 July. The annual Steel Success Strategies 2020 conference, which was scheduled to take place in New York from 8-10 June has been postponed 26 - 28 October 2020 because of the worsening situation caused by Covid-19 and following the advice of international governmental bodies to abstain from non-essential travel. The event will now be fully online as a result of the global pandemic. For further details, log on to �

July/August 2020

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Corona ratings deemed ‘positive’ Both for Brazil’s sovereign and steelmakers, the most frequent outcome was the reaffirmation of the rating and the revision of the outlooks downward. Considering the havoc derived from the pandemic, this result can be viewed as quite positive. By Germano Mendes de Paula* ONE important way to analyse the financial impacts of COVID-19 on steel companies is via the credit ratings, which can be described as an evaluation of the credit risk of a debtor, predicting their ability to pay back the debt, and an implicit forecast of the likelihood of the debtor defaulting. This article discusses Brazil’s sovereign and steel companies’ ratings since the recognition of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. A sovereign credit rating refers to a national government. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) informed on 21 May 2020 that it had ‘reviewed over two-thirds of our sovereign ratings globally since early March, when lockdowns started pushing economies into severe recession. (…) We have lowered over one-fifth of all our sovereign ratings, and after the downgrades we assigned negative outlooks to five of them. We’ve also revised our outlooks on 15% of the reviewed sovereigns to negative from stable’. An investment grade is a rating that signifies a relatively low risk of default. Some Latin American countries that are classified by S&P as investment grade are (in decreasing order): Chile, Panama, Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago, and Colombia. Regarding these nations,

S&P reaffirmed its ratings on only 12 of the 29 sovereigns in the region, which is lower than the global average. It has either lowered the other 17 or revised the outlooks downward, mostly from stable to negative, but in two cases from positive to stable. Conversely, speculative grade is a rating that presents high credit risk. For S&P, some Latin American nations included in this group are (again in declining order): Paraguay, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Argentina and Venezuela. This rating company maintained 17 speculative-grade sovereign ratings in the region, including Paraguay and Costa Rica. For those remaining, it either lowered the others or revised the outlooks. S&P lowered its outlook on Brazil’s sovereign debt to stable on 6 April 2020, citing huge government spending to soften the economic blow from the coronavirus, but said a credit rating upgrade is still more likely than a downgrade. S&P’s outlook change comes barely three months after it had raised it to positive. The ratings agency maintained its BB- non-investment grade. According to Fitch Ratings: “LatAm’s poor fiscal performance was already weighing on ratings, with over half of

sovereigns downgraded in 2015-2019 – more than any other region. Since the crisis began in March 2020, LatAm has tied with Sub-Saharan Africa for the highest share of sovereigns downgraded, and presently has the highest share (two-thirds) either on Negative Outlook or rated ‘CCC’ or below – ratings that imply negative trends without Outlooks being assigned”. Fitch declared: “Brazil’s (BB-) deep local market allows it to finance the region’s largest fiscal package, totalling 14% of GDP, albeit with a 5pp full-year fiscal impact. However, Brazil’s Outlook was revised to Negative on 5 May 2020, as tackling rising debt and low economic growth may become even harder after the pandemic”. It seems interesting to mention that most Brazilian government debt is indexed in domestic currency and traded in the local financial market. Moreover, on 9 June 2020, the country’s foreign exchange reserves reached $348bn. On 15 May 2020, Moody’s reaffirmed the Government of Brazil’s Ba2 issuer and, furthermore, the outlook remained stable. It justified its decision as follows: “The key drivers behind the rating decision are: 1) Recent debt dynamics and more favourable interest rate environment

* Professor in Economics, Federal University of Uberlândia, Brazil. E-mail: July/August 2020

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provide adequate buffer to manage increase in indebtedness due to pandemicrelated economic shock; 2) Improved policy effectiveness will support economic performance and fiscal consolidation post crisis; 3) Limited exposure to external debt, and strong foreign exchange reserve position”.

Rating evaluations after Covid 19’s beginning




Brazilian steelmakers’s ratings Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), Gerdau and Usiminas are the largest Brazilian steelmakers with credit rating data available. On 25 March 2020, S&P informed that it reaffirmed Gerdau’s global scale BBB- issuer credit rating, but revised the outlook to stable from positive. The decision was based on: “The operating disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak will affect Brazilian steel producer Gerdau’s credit metrics in the next few months, because the company has had to suspend or reduce its activities in most countries where it operates”. The suspensions mainly occurred in April 2020. In addition, on 22 April 2020, S&P lowered its global scale ratings from B to B- on CSN and placed them on CreditWatch with negative implications. It also revised the outlook on Gerdau from stable to negative and reaffirmed the global scale BBB- rating. It reviewed the global scale rating outlooks on Usiminas from stable to negative, while reaffirming its B+ rating. S&P explained the reasons for its decision: “The severe slowdown in industrial and construction activity because of the COVID-19 outbreak will sharply reduce steel demand in 2020. The Brazilian steelmakers are adjusting to the new scenario, with some announcing capacity shutdowns and cost and investment cuts to preserve cash (…) Our current forecast of a 20% steel volume drop or more in Brazil for 2020 depends on the timing for key steel clients to resume operations. In such a scenario, the companies won’t be able to implement price adjustments, despite domestic steel prices currently at a discount over imports parity due to the depreciation of the Brazilian real, which, in turn, is raising the steelmakers’ dollar-denominated debt”. On 28 May 2020, Fitch reaffirmed CSN ratings at B, but revised the outlook from positive to stable. It highlighted CSN’s solid iron ore business and strong Brazilian

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Stable � negative


Positive � stable




B � B-


Positive � stable

Stable � negative






Positive � stable

Positive � stable � negative





Stable � Negative

Stable � Negative

Source: Fitch, Moody’s and S&P

flat steel market position, as well as the cost competitiveness of these businesses. “These strengths are balanced against high absolute and net debt levels, which can result in a projected variance of net leverage ratios between 2.5x and more than 6.0x depending on whether iron ore prices average US$90/ton or US$65/ton”. Fitch has not changed the ratings or the outlooks on Gerdau and Usiminas this year.

On 27 March 2020, Moody’s reaffirmed Gerdau Ba1, but the outlook for the ratings was changed to stable from positive. It explained: “the ratings also reflect the company’s historically solid cash flow generation, which reflects its strong market positions in the several markets it operates, its good operational and geographic diversification, its cost-driven management, and its conservative financial policies”. On 27 April 2020, Moodys affirmed Usiminas’ corporate family ratings at Ba3, but modified the outlook to negative from stable. It stressed that “change in outlook to negative reflects our

expectation that Usiminas’ credit metrics will deteriorate materially throughout 2020 as a consequence of the steep decline in steel demand in Brazil, particularly in Usiminas’ key automotive and capital goods end-markets following the coronavirus outbreak”. On 3 June 2020, Moody’s reaffirmed CSN’s global scale ratings at B2, nonetheless the outlook for the ratings was modified from stable to negative. “The change in CSN’s ratings outlook to negative reflects our expectation that the company’s refinancing risk will remain high in the next 12-18 months despite the recent efforts to roll-over debt maturing in 2020, and that credit metrics will remain weak throughout 2020 as a consequence of the steep decline in steel demand in Brazil”. On 15 June 2020, Fitch reaffirmed Gerdau’s rating at ‘BBB-’ and kept the outlook as stable. It commented that: “Fitch’s decision to rate Gerdau’s debt higher than Brazil’s Country Ceiling of ‘BB’ is based upon the company’s ability to service its debt with cash flow generated by its US subsidiary and/or the cash and marketable securities that it holds outside of Brazil.” On 19 June 2020, Fitch maintained both Usiminas’ rating at ‘BB-’ and outlook as stable. It declared: “The rating affirmations reflect a positive pricing environment for iron ore during 2020 that should allow Usiminas to generate positive [Free cash flow] FCF despite the sharp drop in demand for flat steel in Brazil due to the coronavirus pandemic. The rating affirmations also reflect Usiminas’ low absolute and relative debt levels, as well as its manageable debt amortization profile”. The table shows the rating evaluations after COVID-19’s beginning. � July/August 2020

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Italian plant builder busy in China and Thailand Steelmakers in China and Thailand are both working with Italian plant builder Danieli. In China, Changshu Longteng Special Steel has ordered a 400kt/yr continuous mill for flat bar products. A new SBQ mill and wire rod line was recently started up at the same site and was also supplied by Danieli. The 75 tonnes/hr mill will replace a three-high mill and will increase annual production and product quality, claims Danieli. Finished products will be 70mm to 130mm thick flats for end plates. According to Danieli, the mill will consist of 11 stands arranged in a H/V configuration and a downstream process that will include a transfer bed and equipment for collecting spooled flat products from coiling machines. The start-up date is early 2021. Meanwhile, in Thailand, Sahaviriya Steel Industries contracted the Italian plant builder to replace a downcoiler reel for its Bang Saphan hot strip mill. Danieli claims that once upgraded the downcoiler, which was originally designed by another

plant manufacturer and in operation since 1994, will benefit from a considerable reduction of maintenance cycles and a projected service life of over 1.5Mt. According to Danieli, a completely new kinematic of the machine was developed and now the new reel is being manufactured at Danieli

workshops in Italy. The gearbox will be refurbished in Thailand in January next year and the plant will continue normal operation.

For further information, log on to

Low-emissions sideloader from Hubtex The DQ 45-X multi-directional sideloader from Hubtex is claimed to be low in emissions and noise. A low-noise, low-emissions turbo engine, which maintains low energy consumption, thanks to an intelligent vehicle control system, is a key component, says the company. This all-wheel drive vehicle with all-terrain soft tyres is said to be ideal for outdoor use. Hubtex says it offers enhanced levels of comfort in the driver’s cab and that the latest model is easier to maintain than previous incarnations. Described as a universal sideloader with a load capacity of up to 4.5 tons, the DQ 45-X can

handle and transport long goods and pallets, for example loading and unloading trucks, or used in narrow aisles or block storage. It is claimed to function flawlessly on uneven ground, thanks to all-wheel drive and elastic tires. A four-way steering system enables a tight turning circle and short switching times from lengthwise to crosswise driving and vice versa. A stabilisation assistance system offers improved manoeuvrability and smooth transport when handling goods, meaning that unwanted rocking movements are prevented. There are three driving modes – Eco, Sensitive

and Speed – depending on the job requirements. Low energy consumption ensures that exhaust emissions are further reduced, and fuel consumption is down to 4.8 litres per operating hour compared to six litres on the previous model. A load sensing system guarantees an economical driving style, says Hubtex, and an automatic speed increase function ensures that the hydraulic system is provided with the amount of energy it requires. Hubtex says that the core component of the new model is its turbo engine with reduced exhaust emissions and noise. It incorporates an oxidation catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter that conforms with EURO Stage 5 and EPA Tier 4 final emissions standards. Emissions have been reduced by up to 30% when compared to the previous engine, says the company. An all-glass door with sash window, free lift mast and compact fork carrier has improved driver visibility, and less reflections on the window mean the operator is less likely to be distracted. Hubtex claims it has reduced blind spots when reversing by improving the design of the left rear cab pillar. A larger display, which shows the most important operating states and features a touchscreen, is available on the standard model. Operators benefit from an optimised heating system with a recirculation function and insulated pipe connections. For further information, log on to

July/August 2020

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Optimus orders furnace upgrade Texas, USA-based Optimus Steel has placed an order for a furnace upgrade solution with Systems Spray-Cooled of The Systems Group. The 4th quarter 2020 turn-key project includes a new Spray-Cooled™ Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) Roof, a new Spray-Cooled™ Elbow, the accompanying equipment that will replace its existing tubular equipment, and a complete engineering package that covers a laser scan of the entire melt shop, design and layout of all the piping, and engineering of the required infrastructure changes. The engineering portion includes modifying the steelmaker’s current 4-point gantry lift roof to a 2-point gantry lift design. By removing the two existing long gantry arms and replacing them with customised short arms, Optimus Steel

will eliminate the associated downtime and maintenance issues they experienced with their old gantry arms design. The new design will address current operational issues and will allow for better roof alignment and delta changes. The elbow spray water will be supplied and drained from the roof minimising hoses and connections. The roof diameter will be oversized to allow for a larger furnace sidewall in the future. This project is expected to be phase one of a multi-phase meltshop upgrade to a more optimised design with the upper shell and off-gas system to follow. Optimus Steel produces a wide range of high-quality wire rods, coiled rebar, and billets. The Beaumont-based mill has been recognised with awards for safety, community service,

outstanding engineering, and environmental improvement throughout the years. Optimus Steel is logistically situated near Houston to provide value-added solutions that help their customers in the construction, automotive, energy, consumer, and manufacturing markets. Optimus Steel's decision to install SprayCooled™ equipment was based on the need for the safest, most environmentally friendly, lowest cost option (supply and maintenance) along with the extended life and performance for water-cooled equipment.

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Roll grinders for Hoa Phat Group Pomini Tenova, a leading global specialist in the production of roll grinders, completed the installation of three roll grinders for the Hoa Phat Group, one of the largest manufacturers of construction steels, coated steels and steel pipes in Vietnam. The Italian plant builder claims it has now installed and successfully commissioned 18 machines in the country. These three machines – delivered for Hoa Phat’s new hot rolling mill located in Quáng Ngãi Province, Vietnam – are in addition to the two foundation-free roll grinders for the cold rolling mill in Lac Dao, Hung Yên Province, also for Hoa Phat. “The choice of our technology for Hoa Phat’s new productive site confirms the good quality of the relationship that we have been able to establish with the Hoa Phat Group over the years,” July/August 2020

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said Ermanno Croci, Pomini Tenova’s area sales manager. “We are particularly satisfied with this project as, in its latest phase, we encountered several challenges due to the outbreak of the

COVID-19 emergency. Nevertheless, we completed it successfully,” he added. According to Pomini Tenova, this delivery confirms the rising dynamism of the Vietnamese steel sector since the beginning of this century. The Vietnamese market is increasingly looking for high technology in order to satisfy market demand for quality products, claims Tran Anh Chuong of Tenova Global Sales South East Asia. He said that, besides the five machines in Hoa Phat, Pomini Tenova had commissioned one roll grinder in Pomina, two in Hoa Sen, four in POSCO, Vietnam, and six in China Steel Sumikin in recent years. For further information, log on to

15/07/2020 08:10:47



SMS Digital forms new digital powerhouse German plant builder SMS group has acquired two Brazil-based companies, joined them together and renamed the business Vetta Tecnologia SA. The two companies – Viridis and Vetta – were both based in Bela Horizonte, Brazil, and specialised in industrial digitalisation, with emphasis on efficiency and sustainability. As Vetta Tecnologia SA, the new business will work closely with SMS Digital, which already occupies the industrial digital space and has worked closely with high profile, pioneering digital operator Big River Steel, based in Osceola, Arkansas, USA, in the development of the world’s first ‘learning steel mill’. Viridis Energy Solutions was the creator of what SMS group describes as an innovative energy and sustainability platform for process industries and large energy consumers. According to SMS group, Viridis clients benefitted from increased energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact and substantial improvements to their operational management and planning capabilities. Vetta, claims SMS group, has been providing digital solutions for various industries since 2001 and had a strong presence in the metals and mining sectors. The company focused on digital transformation projects based on advanced tech-

nologies developed by Vetta or integrated from other vendors. The company also specialised in industrial solutions, including data-driven models for process and planning optimisation. As part of the acquisition, SMS group acquired all the shares from David Flam, who initially funded Viridis as an ‘angel investor’ and also the shares of FIMA, a fund dedicated to the creation of new environmental technologies. The German plant builder has acquired shares from Vetta, allowing the two businesses to merge under a unified capital structure; it has also injected its own capital into Vetta to fuel growth. SMS Digital has concerned itself with developing the concept of the learning plant based on the use of smart algorithms designed to predict highly complex scenarios, and decision-making capability through monitoring using artificial intelligence. According to SMS Digital, the core elements of the concept include predictive maintenance, product quality assurance and condition monitoring and prediction. Bringing together the expertise of Viridis and Vetta adds energy and sustainability to the mix, which are both important for the steels and metals industries, says SMS Digital. It means that the company is now in a position to supply digitalisation solutions that integrate all production areas

of the steels and metals industries and enables the business to expand into other sectors, such as chemicals and pulp and paper. Dr. Thiago Turchetti Maia and Ricardo Giacomin, the two original founders of the acquired businesses, will head up the management team of the new company and there will be a team of roughly 200 engineers and IT professionals. SMS group will keep the majority of capital and control of the new business. For further details, log on to

Ternium minimises strip breakages Ternium SA, a leading steelmaker, has reduced the frequency of strip breakages by using an inspection system from Ametek Surface Vision. According to Ametek, with steel mills operating at high speed, a strip breakage can cause serious and costly damage to equipment. Ternium wanted to minimise such breakages to safeguard the mechanical integrity of the mill and ensure maximum process continuity. The company operates 17 sites across Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and the United States, and has plants covering the entire manufacturing process from iron ore extraction to the creation of high-value-added products. In Monterrey, Mexico, Ternium operates a pickling line tandem cold mill with five stands, six high. The plant is focused mainly on producing automotive steel with high-quality requirements. Ametek’s SmartView® system was installed on the line to provide automated monitoring of surface quality on the coils passing through the mill. The SmartView system, says Ametek, combines ‘cutting-edge software and rugged, proven hardware to deliver the most precise real-time detection and classification of material defects’. Bringing together the company’s surface inspection and monitoring capabilities, synchronised high-resolution colour camera technology is supported by LED lighting arrays for image capture of defects using multiple inspection angles. All hardware is non-proprietary, which means

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that Ametek’s experts can select the best-fit technology for each application. The company’s inspection and monitoring systems are modular and can be expanded or upgraded whenever needed, it is claimed. At Ternium, the defects responsible for strip breakages were correctly detected and classified by Ametek’s SmartView system. However, since some steel defects are more challenging than others – and could be misclassified or not classified at all – the defect classification task was critical for the results obtained.

Ametek and Ternium were able to find an effective solution to better identify significant problems, protecting the mill and the process. This involved the implementation of SmartView’s colour-coded classification tool to identify defects on a gradient of severity. Connecting the system to the plant’s PLC enabled automatic line speed reduction if a defect was detected. For further information, log on to July/August 2020

15/07/2020 08:11:42



Another Red Dot design award for Combilift

Combilift was among the winners of the 2020 Red Dot Design Award for its recently launched Combi-CBE4 model – the world’s first compact counterbalance design electric powered multi-directional forklift with its patented traction on all wheels. The ‘Red Dot’ distinction is now established internationally as one of the most sought-after

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seals of quality for good design, and as one of the world’s largest product competitions, these awards attract submissions from over 50 countries every year. This is the 2nd Red Dot Award that Combilift has picked up – it was a winner in 2014 with the Combi-WR4 multi-directional pedestrian-operated reach stacker. The Combi-CBE, with 4t lift capacity, fea-

tures the company’s internationally patented independent electric traction which provides all front and rear drive wheels with 100% traction control, therefore negating the need for differential lock on slippery surfaces. By inputting the wheel-base parameters, the traction commands are calculated by the control system. As the truck drives, the speed and rotational direction

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of the wheels are controlled independently, and tight turns can be negotiated with no tyre wear. This, claims Combilift, also offers precise acceleration and deceleration control for the operator, significantly reducing long load momentum twisting when travelling sideways. The Red Dot jury commented: “This compact,

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multi-directional forklift truck is characterised by its extraordinary manoeuvrability and high traction as well as emission-free operation.” Combilift’s CEO and co-founder Martin McVicar said, “Both these accolades are testimony to the high calibre of our product designers and R&D department, and to the benefits


achieved in collaboration with our clients during the design process of a new model.”

For further information, log on to

July/August 2020

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POSCO contracts Fives for GIGA steel production

South Korean steel giant POSCO has contracted Fives for its reversible cold rolling mill DMS 20Hi EcoMill to process GIGA steel – Ultra Advance High Strength Steel (U-AHSS) and TWIP (twinning-induced plasticity) – for automotive applications. According to Fives, it is challenging for steelmakers and plant builders to produce the highest tensile strength steel with 2,000 MPa and get it to behave properly in terms of crash behaviour and better formability. Tensile strength refers to the maximum amount of stress a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled without breaking, and is measured in MPa, as a force per unit area – the unit being a pascal (Pa)/ megapascal (MPa). Since 2016, POSCO has been developing its GIGA steel for automotive applications due to its unparalleled properties. The steelmaker claims that GIGA steel is stronger than aluminium and, therefore, meets the most stringent safety standards. High formability means it can produce

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complex auto parts without any special processing and its ultra light weight reduces emissions, it is claimed. Lighter vehicle body weight and a significant reduction of CO2 emissions have been major drivers for automakers. Cold rolling mills are essential to reduce strip thickness while guaranteeing strip surface quality, says Fives. With more than 100 references worldwide over the past 60 years, DMS 20Hi cold rolling mills from Fives are claimed to be proven for applications in stainless and silicon steels. In view of the fact that the mechanical properties of UHSS or GIGA steel are similar to those of stainless steel, the DMS 20Hi EcoMill was a silver bullet for GIGA steel processing. According to Fives, the 'robust monobloc housing and a fully controlled manufacturing process guarantee fabrication of the strongest cold rolling mill ever'. The equipment will have a 180kt production capacity, and will process ultra-high strength steel from 0.5mm to 2.5mm thickness on a strip width from 800mm to 1,650mm.

In addition, DMS 20Hi EcoMill combines several advances: • Enhanced productivity thanks to the advanced strip wiping and strip cooling technologies. • Push-push 1st intermediate roll shifting system to reduce the risk of broken parts. • Improved strip surface quality due to an advanced strip cooling and flatness control system. • Quick and safe maintenance with minimal downtime due to easy access. Fives has already supplied a record number of references to POSCO worldwide: DMS 20Hi cold rolling mills for stainless steel to POSCO’s facilities in China, Vietnam and Turkey, as well as vertical annealing furnaces for continuous galvanising lines at its Gwangyang Steelworks. For further information, log on to

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Decarbonising the steelmaking process A minimally impacting route to the de-carbonisation of existing ironmaking plants. By Paolo Stagnoli* STEEL, unlike many other structural materials, such as concrete or even polymers, is an indefinitely recyclable material that can be used, re-molten and re-used, without loss of quality and with an efficiency of 80-90% depending on applications. Steel is everywhere in everybody’s life: vehicles, house appliances, buildings, bridges, rails are only a few examples of steel’s countless applications. Steel is undoubtedly one of the pillars of the transition from a linear to a circular economy. In 2019 the world produced 1.86 billion tons of steel (about 10 times more than in 1950), and the World Steel Association predicts that production will reach 2.7 billion tons by 2050. Depending on sources, the steelmaking industry is claimed to be responsible for about 12-15% of total worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. Steelmaking routes are very different in this respect: in the current EU context, where CO2 intensity of electric power generation is about 290g/ kWh, electric steelmaking generates about

400-500kg of CO2 per ton of liquid steel, whereas the integral cycle (via blast furnace and converter) remains at about 16001800kg per ton depending on the age and efficiency of the installation. As of 2019, 72% of the steel in the world came from the BF-BOF route mostly processing iron ore, while only about 28% is produced via the electric process, therefore 90% of the CO2 generated for the production of steel came from plants based on the blast furnace-converter route. Ironmaking is anyway inevitable. Many high-end steel grades tolerate a very low content (1000ppm or less) of tramp elements such as copper which, unfortunately, is abundant in recycled scrap (up to 4500ppm in low-grade, cheaper scrap). Moreover, as the cycle of use and re-melt repeats, this average content of pollutants keeps on increasing as, for instance, copper wires remain entrapped within the body of a car or a dishwasher when scrapped. But even if we imagine that a process for removing tramp elements

from the liquid will eventually become available, there simply would not be enough scrap in the market to cover for continuously increasing steel consumption. In mature markets (like North America) the available scrap covers about 50% of the total need of raw materials. Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) The cleanest, least impacting, industriallyproven technology for ironmaking is reportedly the direct reduction of iron ore pellets using natural gas instead of coke, coal or lignite to generate the reductant mix. NG-based direct reduction is achieved by cracking the molecules of hydrocarbons to form a mix of CO and Hydrogen, whereas the carbon-based reduction processes such as BF operate by partially oxidising the charged carbon to CO only. Some technologies use an external reformer for cracking natural gas to generate hydrogen and carbon monoxide. In the case of the ENERGIRON® process (DRI technology jointly developed by Tenova and Danieli),

*Head of proposal engineering, Tenova SpA. July/August 2020

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Notes:(*) Without CO2 off-taking/commercialization (**) With CO2 off-taking/commercialization, H2% as energy input

the natural gas is directly fed to the process for in-situ reforming of hydrocarbons for a more efficient generation of reducing gases and the possibility of using the same process for any energy source. Once the iron oxides in the ore are reduced to solid metallic iron pellets (DRI), the hot pellets are fed into an EAF where they become molten using electric energy and are refined by injecting oxygen to remove excess carbon and reach the required temperature. It is also possible to blend up to 30% DRI pellets in the burden of a blast furnace to increase productivity and reduce coke and PCI consumption. Depending on the carbon intensity of power generation where the plant operates, producing one ton of liquid steel through the DR-EAF route produces at least 50% less CO2 emissions than the conventional BF-BOF route. The emissions can be further reduced if one leverages in full the peculiar features of ENERGIRON® direct reduction technology: the scheme includes, by default, a CO2 absorption system that selectively removes CO2 from the process gas stream for CCU/CCS applications. Additionally, ENERGIRON® modules allow use of variable percentages of hydrogen in the feed and, eventually, the use of pure hydrogen as fuel. Thanks to the inherent flexibility of this technology, operating at high pressure and temperature and using the same DRI pellets as a catalyst for reforming, the ENERGIRON® scheme has been chosen as the basis for the first hydrogen-based steelmaking facility in the world, currently under construction and expected to be operative in 2021. According to preliminary studies of the consortium of owners, the total emissions per ton of crude steel produced will be well below 50kg, 30 times less than the emissions of a conventional BF-BOF cycle.

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The production of DRI worldwide has been continuously growing. The “shale gas revolution” has significantly lowered the cost of this commodity in several areas in the world, boosting the profitability of this route in countries outside of traditional production areas such as MENA where large reserves of NG are available. Conversion from BF-BOF to DRI-EAF: challenges and constraints Beyond the obvious consideration of capital expenditures, the transformation of existing integrated facilities into DRI-based operations poses several challenges, the first being the availability of a power distribution grid with sufficient capacity to sustain the load of a large electric arc furnace and to tolerate the disturbances induced by this machine. Let’s consider a DRI-EAF line producing 2.5Mt/yr of DRI. The size of the transformer required to feed such a productive machine is 200-250MVA (depending on the chemistry of the pellets and feeding


temperature), with a peak load of about 180MW. Besides the sheer availability of such an amount of power, the operation of the EAF generates disturbances (flicker) that reverberate on the upstream grid in inverse proportion to the short-circuit power of the same, causing high-frequency fluctuations of the active power. Even considering stateof-the-art flicker compensation equipment, able to reduce the flicker by a factor of up to 4, the areas where such a machine can be installed are still quite limited. Power requirements of even the largest BF-BOF plant are not comparable, and large infrastructural investments are required to increase significantly the tolerable load of the power grid. In addition to infrastructural concerns, fitting a DRI-EAF route into an existing BF-BOF plant also poses logistical issues. Should a plant be willing to consider a gradual transition, progressively weaning the plant from the dependence of liquid hot metal, but keeping the de-gassing and casting lines as they are, the operation team would have to integrate within the existing liquid steel stream a source characterised by a different pace (about 45 minutes’ cycle time against around 30 for a typical BOF), with a different tapping size and producing a liquid steel slightly different than the one produced in the pre-existing facilities (even though DRI-EAF lines can be used to produce any known steel grades). Successful conversion to the DRI-EAF route also requires changes in the choices of raw materials. The so-called DRI-grade pellets are formed by high-grade iron ore concentrates, typically with an iron content

HYL ENERGIRON process scheme

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in excess of 65%, and in the best ones the gangue is mostly basic (CaO and MgO). EAF operation requires the slag to respond to certain minimum criteria to allow for phosphor removal, keep an adequate viscosity throughout the whole process and prevent chemical erosion of the refractory lining of the crucible, typically built with MgO-C bricks. If the pellets charged in the EAF contain significant quantities of silica and/or alumina, the process will require a more than equal addition of basic fluxes to keep the slag within acceptable parameters, and since the fluxes require double the energy required to melt iron, this results in an increase of the electrical energy required by the process. Moreover, as oxygen is blown to achieve the desired composition endpoint, the slagsteel equilibrium causes the concentration of FeO in the slag to be almost fixed for a certain required %C, so the more slag needed, the more iron gets lost to the slag. A high quantity of gangue implies high energy consumption and low yield. Currently, low-grade pellets are used in DRIEAF plants only in areas where the energy cost is almost negligible. Last but not least, many BF-BOF plants sell the BF slag to the concrete industry as an aggregate while the EAF slags, having a high iron oxide content (20-40% depending on process) and being very basic, are not suitable for this purpose.

was to eliminate the dependence upon coke while remaining able to process low-grade iron ore to produce an intermediate material compatible with the existing downstream processes, while tackling all logistical concerns related to the introduction of a DRI-EAF line into an existing BF-BOF plant. The first item of this innovative production line is the ENERGIRON® Zero Reformer module. This direct reduction technology, developed by Tenova and now managed within the ENERGIRON® partnership, uses a pressurised vessel to reduce iron ore pellets to DRI. Within the ENERGIRON® ZR module the same iron pellets in the module act as a catalyst for the cracking of the methane and of the other hydrocarbons contained in the feeding gas. The ZR operates at high pressure achieving metallisation rates between 94% and 95%. It can produce DRI with a carbon content of up to 5% (High-C DRI). The pellets can be charged directly in the downstream melting unit at a temperature in excess of 600°C reducing

significantly the energy required. The solution proposed by Tenova uses an Open Slag Bath Furnace (OSBF) to complete the reduction of the iron oxide remaining in the pellets through a reaction with a portion of the carbon contained in the same and melt the pellets, separate the gangue from the iron and bring the liquid to the desired temperature. A portion of the silica contained in the gangue is also reduced to metallic silicon in the bath, achieving a composition of the liquid that is very close to the hot metal produced by blast furnaces, while the sulphur content remains dramatically lower as natural gas (or hydrogen, or a mix of the two) is used to reduce the iron instead of coke (which brings sulphur to the hot metal produced via the traditional blast furnace route). OSBFs feature a large static vessel with a semi-permanent refractory lining, designed for life cycles of several years. The feed, generally constituted by different ores, fluxes and reductants, is charged by gravity in the vessel and heated by means of resistive arcs that spark through the slag layer. The OSBF is powered by three independent single-phase AC transformers feeding Soderberg electrodes, independently regulated by means of hydraulic systems. Periodically, the slag and metals are evacuated through tap holes and launders placed at different heights in the vessel (higher for the slag and lower for the metal). The tapping temperature can be adjusted by providing more or less electric energy to the bath, while the carbon content can be trimmed by adding carburising agents to the feed. At the end of tapping, the holes are plugged with TENOVA PYROMET Open Slag Bath Furnace. On the right: Soederberg type electrodes (TENOVA, 2019)

A new approach to ironmaking: the HDRI-to-Hot Metal route Some years ago, Tenova began investigating a minimally impacting transitional solution to allow a gradual conversion of existing integrated steelmaking plant. The purpose of the research was to find a production line mimicking a blast furnace, but with significantly lower emissions. The objective July/August 2020

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OSBF tapping in hot metal torpedo cars. On the right: DRI cooler for cold DRI discharge

a clay gun and the cycle is repeated. The process maintains a large metal heel in the furnace so that the furnace always operates in a steady liquid bath operation. This process generates a negligible amount of electrical disturbances (flicker) when compared with the noise generated in the power grid by an EAF of similar productivity. OSBFs have a significantly lower power density (MW/m2) than EAFs and do not operate with open, radiating arcs as the EAFs do. Thanks to this feature, the slag requirements are dramatically less stringent as the protection of the sidewall refractories is achieved by a sheer temperature gradient, keeping the slag next to the wall below its solidifying temperature. As the steady and static operation of an OSBF implies vastly lower mechanical stresses, the unit uses Söderberg electrodes. With this system, the gradual consumption of the electrodes near the tip is compensated by adding a paste composed of anthracite, pet coke and graphite that ‘graphitises’ with the process temperature as the electrode slips down. This material costs significantly less than standard graphite electrodes used in EAFs. Logistically, for the plants where the assembly needs to be installed away from the BOF shop (a configuration quite common in integrated cycle plants) the liquid produced can be tapped into ladles or torpedo cars and transported with a modest temperature drop at a significant distance, same as with blast furnaces. The DR module and OSBF are integrated in an organic automation package controlling the operating parameters of both units, keeping an eye on the process from the raw materials feed to the tapping into the receiving vessels in a fully automated way.

Conclusion Tenova, through productive interaction with European and Eastern steelmakers, developed an innovative process route based on industrially-proven, referenced units. This fully integrated line can produce hot metal with adjustable carbon (up to 5%) and silicon (0.2-0.4%) content from low-grade iron ore pellets, while producing


BF-like slag that can be granulated and sold as a byproduct. In order to overcome the constraints inherent in the DRI-EAF route Tenova leveraged its experience in ore smelting furnaces, owned by the South African branch of the group (Tenova Pyromet) that specialised in the design and supply of Submerged Arc Furnaces (SAF) and OSBF for the production of ferroalloys and base metals. The proposed solution, for the cases analysed, will allow a reduction of CO2 emissions by roughly 70% (85% if using carbon-neutral electricity) and enables existing ironmaking plants to plan a gradual reconversion during which the operation of downstram units (BOFs) will remain substantially unchanged. At the time of writing two projects involving this route are active as well as several negotiations with various international players. �

Pig iron/vanadium slag production plant in Canada, basic engineering

CO2 emission comparison with reference process (BF-BOF) for different plant operating conditions

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Hydrogen offers CO2-free heating Industrial gas supplier Linde Gas AB and special steel manufacturer Ovako recently conducted a fullscale trial using hydrogen to heat steel before rolling at the Hofors mill in Sweden. Together they report on an historic development that shows how carbon dioxide emissions might be eliminated from rolling processes. THE Swedish industry is setting ambitious environmental targets and there are a number of promising initiatives to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases within the steel sector. Most projects are focusing on replacing fossil coal and coke in the reduction of iron ore, which is the main source for CO2 emissions in ore-based steel production. Scrap-based steel producers need to focus on other processes that create CO2 emissions, the most important being the electricity source used for melting in the electric arc furnace (EAF). For all industries, it should be considered as critically important to also focus on all upstream supplies in order to generate a full ‘cradle to gate’ perspective. To make beneficial environmental changes on a large scale, it is important that all participants in the value chain support this perspective. Environmental considerations should be important criteria in sourcing decisions. For

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Ovako, some 50% of its CO2 emissions are upstream, and for its customers often much more. Downstream from the steel melting, important areas for CO2 reductions are heating before hot rolling or forging and also the final heat treatment of steel products. At Ovako, a fully scrap-based steelmaker, the EAFs are powered by fossilfree electricity. Final heat treatment is also on its way to being fully electrified and also uses fossil-free electricity. The main challenge remaining is to eliminate CO2 emissions from the heating of steel before rolling. Ovako Ovako is already producing high quality special steel with a very low CO2 footprint ‘cradle to gate’. Thanks to solid sustainability work carried out over many years, Ovako has already achieved a carbon

footprint 80% lower than the global average, but is continuously working to get even better. Ovako purchases 100% fossil-free electricity from Nordic power suppliers. While energy production in Sweden has a low average of 12 g CO2/kWh, it is important to go beyond this simple analysis. Instead, it is the certified source of electricity that needs to be tied to a producer’s own consumption. Electricity is a traded commodity and unless the source is clearly specified it will be easy to draw the wrong conclusions. In the case of Ovako, an active decision tied electricity to the sources with the lowest emissions, with a CO2 footprint even below the Swedish average figure. In recent years, Ovako has invested in replacing fossil fuels with electricity where possible. The heat-treatment furnaces have been converted to electrical heating, for all July/August 2020

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and NOx formation a pilot-test campaign was performed. Pilot tests were made in Linde´s combustion pilot hall outside Stockholm. These tests involved heating smaller pieces of different steel grades with H2-Oxyfuel and comparing the results with the Oxy-LPG combustion that is used at Ovako. All results were encouraging. No negative impact could be seen on the material, combustion or emissions.


furnace temperatures < 1000˚C. In the hot rolling mill, hot charging is used as much as possible, enabling very significant savings in fuel and CO2 emissions. Ovako has also changed fuel from oil to liquified petroleum gas (LPG) resulting in lower CO2 (SO2 and particulates) emissions and facilitating the possibility of changing to other CO2-free fuels such as Green Hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water. Use of Oxygen-enhanced combustion – Oxyfuel At its Hofors site Ovako has worked together with Linde to convert almost all the 57 high temperature furnaces (with furnace temperatures ~1200oC) to Oxyfuel. In Oxyfuel the ballast of nitrogen in the air is avoided and thereby the flue gas losses are drastically reduced and thereby the flue gas losses are drastically reduced and the radiant heat transfer is improved. The use of Oxyfuel reduces the energy consumption with a consequent reduction in CO2 emissions by 20% to 50% depending on the process. Linde and Ovako have co-operated for around 30 years to develop, implement and upgrade Oxyfuel technology and other uses of industrial gases to fit the different applications and their demands regarding economy, quality and emissions. From its original use of conventional Oxyfuel, Ovako has moved over to Linde’s Flameless Oxyfuel solutions in its REBOX® portfolio to increase temperature uniformity and reduce NOx emissions. Hydrogen-Oxyfuel combustion To further reduce the emissions of July/August 2020

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greenhouse gases, Ovako and Linde decided to explore the possibility of using Hydrogen-Oxyfuel technology for heating steel before hot rolling and forging. As well as using Hydrogen as a fuel, Flameless Oxyfuel technology is also used, applying the REBOX Hyox concept. In HydrogenOxyfuel combustion the flue gas formed is steam, see Fig.1. To be able to heat steel of different grades in a ~100% H2O atmosphere a number of questions had to be answered regarding any quality impact on the steel, capacity/uniformity in the heating process, NOx-emissions, safety issues and changes in the combustion system. Pilot tests To evaluate the scaling, descaling, decarburisation, hydrogen embrittlement, heating capacity, temperature uniformity

Full-scale demonstration After the successful pilot-scale demonstration, Ovako and Linde decided to demonstrate Hydrogen-Oxyfuel heating in full scale in one of the pit furnaces at Hofors. The existing combustion system was upgraded to handle hydrogen and LPG as fuels. The changeover between the fuels can be done in only a second with complete safety, following all norms and regulations. The demonstration was performed in March 2020 when 24 ball-bearing steel ingots from the steel plant were charged into four pits. One pit was fired with Hydrogen-Oxyfuel using REBOX Hyox and the other three with normal fuel (LPGOxyfuel). All relevant data (flows, temperatures, oxygen levels in the flue gases, etc.) were logged. This data indicated that the capacity, temperature uniformity and controllability of the combustion system worked at least as well as the normal operation – as shown in Fig.2. After heating and soaking the billets were successfully rolled to bars in the rolling mill.


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Rolling forces, dimensions, scale and temperature uniformity were at the same levels as always. A thorough inspection and analysis of the final billets showed that heating using hydrogen as fuel does not affect the high product quality. The conclusion was that, for the first time ever, a heat treatment operation has successfully used hydrogen – and oxygen – to heat steel before rolling. Furthermore, the use of hydrogen in combustion would have a very positive effect on the environment since the only emission generated is water vapour. “As far as we know, this is the first time that hydrogen has been used to heat steel in an existing production environment. Thanks to the demonstration, we know that hydrogen can be used simply and flexibly, with no impact on steel quality, which would mean a very large reduction in the carbon footprint,” says Göran Nyström, Ovako EVP group marketing & technology. “It will also have important benefits of on-off flexibility for the power grid, as well as other benefits outside the steel production itself”.

“We have been working on furnace modernisation for a long time, to make our furnaces as productive and energy efficient as possible,” says Anders Lugnet, group technical specialist, energy & furnace technology at Ovako. “It is very exciting that we now have proof that it is possible to use hydrogen in heating without affecting the quality of the steel. If we can make this investment, it would have a great positive impact on the environment. Our estimate is that an initial investment would save 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and that is just the beginning. We performed this trial in such a way that it can be reproduced at full scale in Hofors and also at our other rolling mills.”


Next steps This demonstration has proved that heating with hydrogen is possible in full-scale operation. With Green Hydrogen and oxygen from electrolysis of water and a flexible Oxyfuel system, the CO2 emissions associated with heating may be eliminated. Ovako is now looking to complete the financing with industrial partners and financial support that may be needed. Full-scale operations could be a reality within a relatively short time frame and this would be an important learning ground for a larger use of hydrogen across many industries. It could be an enabler for a hydrogen infrastructure for applications such as fuel cells in transport industries. Through the development of this work, Linde and Ovako have agreed that the ambition has been to help other industry companies to learn from their practical experience. Innovative steel, and innovative steelmaking, can help to build a better future. �



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Reliable steel solutions Tata Steel is one of the leading global steel companies setting the standard for others to follow in a collective, industry-wide effort to encourage responsible and sustainable manufacturing and supply chain processes for the automotive industry. By Karl Haider* THE world is always adapting, changing and evolving. Now more than ever, there is a great demand for cleaner and greener energy emissions on a worldwide scale, encompassing everything from the tailpipe output of cars on the road to measuring the environmental impact of large manufacturing plants. All the while, the advent of increasingly advanced technology is playing an integral role in not only tracking where global emissions come from, but also helping us shape the future of a more sustainable steel manufacturing and supply chain process. Earlier this year, Tata Steel unveiled a sustainability strategy that sets out to move the company into the next era of manufacturing in the automotive industry. The steelmaker outlined its plan to address three key areas in the short-, medium- and long-term: Electrification, autonomous driving and shared use; Digitalisation and service offering; and Sustainability. These plans were devised to project towards a future that Tata Steel predicts will be an automotive market based on mobility services using shared autonomous vehicles, with the majority of vehicle sales being on a business-to-business basis, as fewer

consumers own cars. Tata Steel predicts that – by 2050 – these will be primarily propelled by an electrified powertrain, though other technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells will also increase in popularity by then. It is clear that over the next few decades, substantial change will be sought by manufacturers in the automotive industry – and now is the time to act on it, so to ensure this cleaner and greener reality will be ready for future generations. But one thing remains a constant for the materials sector as far as automotive manufacturing is concerned: steel will always be the automotive industry’s preferred metal of choice. The high degree of recyclability adds to its sustainable credentials, and the material is adaptable to suit the continually evolving requirements of the manufacturing and supply chain process. Steel for electrified powertrains Looking ahead to the future of the automotive industry, it remains to be seen how much longer the conventionally powered, internal combustion engine will stay in popular demand. The gradual

phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicle production is often cited by environmental campaigners as one of the most easily remedied means of reducing the global emissions footprint – with the replacement and solution widely considered to be a more widespread embrace of electric vehicles (or cars, vans and other vehicles without emissions at the tailpipe). The sustainability plan outlined by Tata Steel supports vehicle manufacturers today and in the future as they look to develop the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles. The short-term aspect of this strategy outlines how Tata Steel can deploy a wide range of lightweight steels for reducing weight and cost of crash components in vehicles that are more efficient by using less energy to move. This focus on a small detail of lightweight steel manufacturing becomes a larger consideration when multiplied on a mass production scale, and would soon add up to make considerable emissions savings worldwide. In addition, the deployment of reliable steel solutions for energy storage and E-motors will help to improve the driving range and cost of the vehicles in the

* Chief commercial officer, Tata Steel Europe July/August 2020

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medium term, with these powertrains replacing the conventional internal combustion engine and giving vehicle design engineers the chance to review how a car, van or other vehicle is made from the bottom up, using only the best and most suitable materials in the new process. A longer-term part of this strategy invests in the development of new solutions for further optimisation of alternative fuel vehicles in future generations – and Tata Steel is willing to work with vehicle manufacturers from square one of any design roadmap to find the best and most suitable bespoke solutions. Turning the supply chain digital As Tata Steel operates as one of the most prominent Tier 1 steel manufacturers in the automotive supply chain, it is imperative that the ordering and production process is as efficient as it can be, especially considering that many of the orders it fulfils are on a large scale. Recent innovations in technology are deployed by Tata Steel once again to improve and refine the supply chain process, giving chance for all involved to save time and costs in the ordering cycle. Digitalisation within the automotive value chain allows for through-chain material traceability and quality tracking, for more efficient processing and continuous adaptation to customer-specific demands. Advanced engineering services improve the accuracy of simulations and reduce

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prototyping and costs, while advanced digital services optimise processes by enabling predictive manufacturing. As a longer-term vision, Tata Steel expects a faster time overall to market new products that are tailored better to suit customer needs – ultimately supporting customers to achieve an improved quality of product, while still achieving a lower total cost of ownership. On its digital journey, Tata Steel focuses on three pillars within the transformation of the supply chain: offering smarter services, smarter insights and smarter networks and connections; with each branch contributing towards the steelmaker developing valueadded digital services for its customers. The journey towards a digital transition has already begun for Tata Steel, yet the completion of the shift to an exclusively digital process will be managed through a five-phase plan, enabling: material traceability, smart data, dynamic process control, end-to-end vision and a fully integrated supply chain. The emphasis on benefits for time and cost saving are key, but these digitalisation measures should not be overlooked as part of Tata Steel’s overarching goal to reduce manufacturing emissions. Greater accuracy in the supply chain negates the need for materials to be produced unnecessarily, streamlines the logistical aspect of transporting steels throughout the manufacturing cycle and ultimately hones precision to reduce waste.


Sustainability goals Tata Steel has made a number of investments that will contribute towards the overall sustainability of its manufacturing facilities, with sustainability as an overarching goal of the whole strategy. For greater understanding on behalf of the customer, Tata Steel also offers a Life Cycle Assessment service to give a better understanding of particular examples of a carbon footprint, thus extending the company’s commitment to through-chain sustainability. Furthermore, Tata Steel will support customers in their own aims and targets for sustainability, by offering an advisory service focused on bespoke projects that fall within the three pillars of CO2 performance, a circular economy and encouraging responsible supply chain adherence. Thanks to the company’s stature as one of the most prominent Tier 1 steel suppliers to the automotive industry, Tata Steel has a unique expertise and understanding on the impact of steel on customers’ respective sustainability strategies. In the consultancy phase, the company can advise on all aspects of the life cycle of steel, including looking in detail at resource efficiency. This process also encourages transparency in the supply chain, with Tata Steel able to give qualified guidance. In this global movement towards greater emissions efficiency and with green targets to meet, society expects companies to take responsibility for sustainable manufacturing. July/August 2020

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In the automotive sector in particular, we see many sustainability plans underpinned by electric and alternative fuel vehicles as central to the messaging. This is a move in the right direction, but sustainability must underpin the entire supply chain, not just the end product that consumers will use. Tata Steel has begun work on plans to make large asset investments to create the

steel plant of the future – one key factor being implementing new technology to produce liquid steel, enabling up to 80% reductions in CO2. Conclusion By announcing this vision for a sustainable future, Tata Steel is one of the leading global steel companies that will set

the standard for others to follow in a collective, industry-wide effort to encourage responsible and sustainable manufacturing and supply chain processes. Tata Steel is committed to pioneering the next generation of steel products for car manufacturers, allowing for the engineering of more lightweighting in vehicle design, and to reduce vehicle emissions as well as improving their own manufacturing efficiencies. Tata Steel has outlined its bold vision to create the steel plant of the future as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability. Steel is expected to play an increasingly important role in vehicle structures in the future, as the most sustainable vehicles will be built with steel. The material is infinitely recyclable, and can be the most sustainable material for cars, vans and trucks not just today, but also in the future. Vehicle structure steel solutions, E-motor steel laminations and steel battery solutions are expected to see a sharp increase in demand stimulated by companies wanting to make their vehicles carbon-neutral over their complete lifecycle. �

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Two porous plugs better than one? Following mathematical and physical modelling, plant trials showed a significant improvement in inclusion floatation and bath homogenisation when gas purging using two porous plugs in the bottom of the ladle as opposed to just one. A 48% reduction in inclusion fraction was measured and a consistent reduction in temperature variation at the tundish. The chemistry of the top slag was also modified to improve inclusion capture. By A Gupta, S Kumar, V Kumar, A Prasad, S Roy and R Kumar Singh* A Paul, K Kumar Keshari

ALL operations in process metallurgy involve complex phenomena comprising momentum, heat, and/or mass transport: Iron and steel making is no exception. Transport phenomena, ie fluid flow, heat transfer and mass transfer, play a dominant role in process metallurgy since their respective laws govern the kinetics of the various physical phenomena occurring in iron and steel making. These phenomena include such events as three phase reactions, entrainment of slag and gas in liquid steel, vacuum degassing, alloy melting and mixing, the movements and flotation of inclusions, melt temperature losses, residence times in a metallurgical reactor, erosion of refractory linings, and so forth. In recent years, with continuing emphasis on superior steel quality, a major goal of the steelmaking industry is to improve the properties of steel products. Removal of inclusions is one of the important measures for improvement in the properties of steel. Stirring systems are the most common method used in steel plants for inclusion removal. A schematic of the various stirring systems is illustrated in Fig.1 and they are involved

in stirring the molten steel bath to obtain homogenous temperature, composition, inclusion floatation and promotion of slagmetal refining reactions.





Fig 1. Different methods of melt stirring[1]

Literature review Gas stirring and electro-magnetic induction stirring are common ladle stirring systems. Of these, gas stirring is the cheapest and most popular method. Gas stirring is where stirring is achieved through injection of inert gas into the steel bath. The gas can be injected from the top or bottom. It is generally considered that mixing or refining efficiency is more effective when the gas is injected from the bottom of the vessel. Fig.2 illustrates the pattern of bubble dispersion in an aqueous medium when gas is injected through a porous plug at different gas flow rates. Fig.3 shows a schematic of gas stirring by purging argon through a porous plug, located at the bottom of a ladle, into a bath of molten steel contained in a slightly tapered cylindrical vessel. The gas-liquid twophase region is sub-divided into four physically distinct regions[4], primary bubble, transitory, plume or bubble region and spout respectively. Of these, the plume region, characterised by dispersed spherical cap bubbles in an air-water mixture, is the largest and occupies most of the bath depth. In contrast, the spout typically occupies approximately 3% to 4% of the bath depth (in aqueous and molten steel systems). Stirring results from

The authors are with the Research and Development Centre for Iron and Steel, Steel Authority of India Ltd

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Surface region “spout”


Bubble region

Z2 Transition region Z1 Primary region




(c) Fig 3. Development of an argon-steel plume in a gas stirred

Fig 2. Modes of gas dispersion in porous plug injections: (a) discrete bubbles (b) incipient coalescence (c) coalescence[2]

expansion of gas due to heating and a decrease in pressure as the gas rises due to its buoyancy. The rising bubbles impart momentum to surrounding fluid and drag the liquid along with them. Near the free surface, rising liquid loses a significant portion of its vertical momentum in favour of a spout and is thereby forced to flow radially outwards from the plume’s axis in the vicinity of the free surface. This radially flowing liquid then moves vertically downwards adjacent to the ladle sides. This motion creates a re-circulating flow pattern in the vessel with its toroidal ‘eye’ located high up in the ladle and displaced towards the side wall. The bottom part of the ladle is relatively quiescent. Gas stirring has evolved as the most effective method of mixing in industrial vessels. Its typical use has been in the refining ladle for the purposes of desulphurisation, degassing, minor composition adjustment, temperature homogenisation, and inclusion removal. Under typical industrial conditions, relatively low gas flow rates (1 to 3.33×10-5 m3/s/ tonne) are applied to achieve chemical or thermal homogeneity while intense stirring conditions (3.33 to 8.33 ×10-5 m3/s/t) are practiced for accelerating slag-metal reactions. Depending on the objective of ladle refining, a wide range of gas flow rates may be applied. Apart from the gas flow rate, another important factor effecting inclusion floatation is location and numbers of gas injection points in the ladle bottom. Mostly, ladles with a single gas injection point are used, but as the capacity of liquid steel ladles increases, efficiency of inclusion floatation using single point gas injection reduces and to overcome this, higher capacity ladles are provided with July/August 2020

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ladle (schematic)[3]


Fig 4. a) Mathematical flow simulation with single porous plug. (b) Mathematical flow simulation with double porous plug



Fig 5. (a) Physical flow simulation with single porous plug. (b) Physical flow simulation with double porous plug

double or even three gas injection points. The gas injection point is more commonly termed a porous plug. The present work at R&DC SAIL focusses on comparing the efficiency of single and double porous plug operation in terms of steel bath homogenisation and steel quality. Experimental A steel ladle in an integrated steel plant

with a capacity of 120t was considered in the current study. Steel ladles are operated with a single porous plug for inclusion floatation and bath homogenisation. Through a series of physical and mathematical simulations in advance of actual industrial implementation, a modified configuration using two porous plugs was determined. Flow studies were carried out using the mathematical

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Constituent CaO MgO SiO2 Al2O3

Wt %





Basicity (Cao/SiO2)


Table 1. Target ladle top slag chemistry for Si killed steel

Ladle with Single Porous Plug Ladle with Double Porous Plug

Heat No


Incl. Vol. Frac 0.32

Heat No 01a

Incl. Vol. Frac 0.13





















Table 2. Inclusion volume fraction for single and double porous plug ladle

Slide gate

Slide gate

Porous plug


2nd Porous plug

Porous plug


Fig 6. (a) Existing single porous plug configuration of steel ladle. (b) Modified double porous plug configuration of steel ladle

Fig 7. Modified Slide gate

steel ladle with two porous plugs

Introduced second porous plug


Fig 8. (a) Inclusions in single porous plug ladle sample x100.

Oxygen steelmaking SAIL.indd 3

Existing porous plug


(b) Inclusions in ladle sample at x100


simulation software ANSYS® and a physical scaled down Perspex model of the steel ladle. Fig. 4(a) and Fig.4(b) represents the mathematical modelling study, and Fig.5(a) and Fig.5(b) the physical experiments using the Perspex model. Based on these studies the positioning of a second porous plug was verified. A schematic of the result is represented in Fig.6(a) and Fig.6(b). One of the steel shop’s ladles was used to verify the study and modified to make provision for two-point gas injection. All the downstream facilities supplying gas to the steel ladle remained unchanged and modification was carried out only after the point where coupling between the gas incoming line and steel ladle takes place. Fig.7 shows the ladle bottom configuration after installing the second porous plug. The introduction of the double porous plug was accompanied with changes in the ladle top slag chemistry. The composition was changed to form a softer and more fluid slag with a higher inclusion absorption capacity. This modification is necessary to prevent the inclusions from re-entering the liquid steel after they are floated to the steel surface. The ladle slag chemistry which has been targeted in this trial is for Si killed steel and is shown in Table 1. To achieve this chemistry, concepts of slag engineering have been implemented and the addition of calcined bauxite used to make a fluid ladle top slag. The modified ladle along with the changed slag practice was introduced into the production process while all unmodified ladles had unchanged operational parameters. To ascertain the performance of two porous plug operations the following factors were monitored: • For quality assessment, steel samples were taken to determine the inclusion fraction from both single and double porous plug ladles. • Temperature measurements in the tundish were taken at equal intervals during casting to assess steel bath homogenisation. Results and discussions Samples collected during steel refining and casting were analysed. Random samples from both types of ladle were prepared to assess inclusion volume fraction. Fig.8a and Fig.8(b) represent the inclusions in a sample from single and double porous plug operation respectively, and Table 2 inclusion volume fraction for each for five heats. � 40 July/August 2020

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CONDAT has been designing lubricants dedicated to the steel industry for over 25 years: high performance technical greases and fire-resistant hydraulic fluids. CONDAT’s ambition is to offer the most efficient solutions to both increase the productivity of its customers and reduce their energy and resources consumption. This is what is the company calls ‘Responsible Performance’. According to CONDAT, its CONDAT MILLENNIUM greases and its CONDAT D fluids offer a very high level of performance. However, to go beyond the plain commercial claim, the company has solicited an independent laboratory to conduct tests on its CONDAT D range and find out how hydrolysis resistance can affect the product performance of fireresistant oils. Scientific evidence to follow! Water – a big issue for steel workshop managers All workshop managers are looking to minimise their maintenance costs and want to optimise the lifetime of their lubricants batch. Indeed, a huge quantity of hydraulic oils are at stake as a tank can contain between 2,000 to 10,000 litres. One option to increase drain intervals is to monitor carefully the pollution of the fluid in order to increase its operating lifetime. In workshops, the phenomenon of condensation may be important. Condensation occurs mainly because of the temperature difference between the hot point on the circuit and the tank or exterior humidity entering the circuit through the air filtered from outside by the air filter. Ester-based HFDU fluids are known to be sensitive to water, which plays a major role in the degradation of the fluid and hence on its operating life time. In order to monitor water content as closely as possible and to minimise draining, CONDAT advises regular analysis of the fluids in service. Such analysis should be done at least annually in order to control the water content and other pollutants. However, the most effective way to reduce water impacts on the operating lifetime of the fluid is to design waterresistant products. The objective is to keep the fluid in service and in good condition as long as

Minimising water risk CONDAT, an established designer of lubricants dedicated for use in the steel industry – such as high-performance technical greases and fire-resistant hydraulic fluids – has commissioned independent laboratory analysis of its CONDAT D range of products. Severine Bourgeois* runs through the results possible to save on the lubricants purchase budget! Hydrolysis – or how water impacts esters To put it simply, water reacts with the ester to form an acid. The acid is a more reactive molecule and with high temperature and oxygen, the acid molecules will start to react with the ester molecules. Once initiated, a chain reaction will take place, the ester-based molecules will be broken and highly unstable and they will react with each other, creating bonds between different molecules and generating acidic by-products. Looking at an analysis results sheet, this

will translate into an increase in viscosity, in the Total Acid Number* (measuring the acids in the fluid). These acidic components will tend to dissolve in the water phase and decrease its pH. They also tend to be more aggressive to metal, maybe creating corrosion.

Hydraulic fluids that become unstable due to the hydrolysis process form acidic and insoluble contaminants which can lead to hydraulic system malfunctions because of corrosion, valve sticking, or a noticeable change in the viscosity of the fluid.

* Chemical engineer and marketing specialist, CONDAT July/August 2020

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Fig 2 Fig 1

Fig 3

Measuring water resistance CONDAT recently commissioned an independent laboratory to obtain an impartial opinion on the hydrolysis resistance of its CONDAT D fluids. The laboratory was asked to measure the resistance to hydrolysis and oxidation on CONDAT D68 and two equivalent products from the market. The test method ASTM D2619 differentiates the relative stability of hydraulic fluids in the presence of water under relatively high temperature and the presence of a copper acting as a catalyst to initiate the oxidation reaction. Here are the results of the independent laboratory: Figs 1 and 2 (TAN Difference and Water acidity) show how the choice of the esters is important. Competitor 2 is an HFDU based on natural-based esters: After only 48 hours, TAN variation and acidity of the free water

Lubricants CONDAT.indd 2

is significantly higher showing that the hydrolysis process has already started to degrade the fluid. This means more acidic compounds were created by the hydrolysis attack of the water on the esters. Those acidic compounds will create an instability and quicken the oxidation process. But even with synthetic ester-based fluid, Competitor 1 and CONDAT D68 behave very differently meaning that the choice and selection of the raw materials is of prime importance; and this is after only 48 hours of testing. After a few weeks or months, the hydrolysis process will lead to an increase in viscosity, meaning that the initial setting for a viscosity of 68 cSt will no longer be valid. Standards accept a Âą 10% change in viscosity (74.8 cSt is the upper limit). If viscosity change is over 10%, cavitation may occur leading to a lack of lubrication. This can impact the overall performance and

productivity of the system and can damage the hydraulic parts fed by the hydraulic oils. Damage can also be created by increased corrosion as the water gets more acidic (see Fig 3). Condat D68 is less affected by corrosion. Overall, it is important for workshop managers in the steel industry to regularly control the water content of their fireresistant hydraulic fluids in order not to damage their equipment and maintain their level of productivity. The use of a fluid resistant to water damage and that shows high hydrolysis resistance can help a lot in this task. CONDAT D formulation The good results achieved by CONDAT D fluid in relation to hydrolysis resistance can be explained by the high-quality level of the product’s formulation. CONDAT has very stringent requirements regarding the quality July/August 2020

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and the type of the synthetic esters used in CONDAT D formulations. Other characteristics besides hydrolysis resistance are important for the product’s success, such as high flash point (also depending on the quality of the synthetic esters), a high ‘additivation’ level to offer excellent anti-wear behaviour and equipment protection. If you get a better viscosity stability during the product’s lifetime and a better TAN evolution, it means: √ A consistant lubricity during temperature changes √ A higher oxidation resistance √ A longer life of the product in use: overall, CONDAT D products last 30% longer than some market references. Conclusion As a premium fire-resistant hydraulic fluid, CONDAT offers steel industry operators the opportunity to make savings on their lubrication budget and reduce maintenance costs. Besides high quality products, CONDAT provides support and expertise,

though lubricant analysis follow-up and interpretation, installation auditing and counselling. CONDAT also offers complementary services in order to take all preventive actions that will save time and money. Looking for a strong partnership with its customers, but also with the steel industry’s main actors and OEMs, CONDAT’s philosophy is based on four points:

• Safety for people and equipment • Longevity and protection of the machines • Optimised maintenance costs • Respect of workers and the environment with biodegradable and nontoxic lubricants. For further information, contact the CONDAT team at or log on to �

� 37 distribution in the tundish for heats from single and double porous plug ladle operations. The temperature of the steel in the tundish was recorded at regular intervals for steel coming from both single and double porous plug ladles. The values recorded indicate better temperature homogenisation when using two porous plugs compared to single plug ladles. Because of this improved homogenisation the temperature drop in the tundish is within a smaller range for steel coming from the double porous plug ladle. These improvements will ultimately help in improving the quality of steel products. �

References Fig 9. Tundish temperature distribution for single and double porous plug ladles

It was observed that the average inclusion volume fraction reduced from 0.31 to 0.16 by implementing a double instead of single porous plug. This equates to a reduction of around 48% in inclusion level. Heat numbers 1a, 2a to 5a and 1b,2b to 5b are only indicative and have no correlation with July/August 2020

Lubricants CONDAT.indd 3

the plant’s heat production data. This improvement in inclusion level is of great importance in terms of the quality of the final steel product and is indicative of the benefits of using a double porous plug in current steel ladles. Fig.9 presents the temperature

1 F Oeters, W Pluschkell, E Steinmetz, and H Wilhelmi, Steel Research, Vol 59, 1988, pp 192201. 2 P E Anagbo and J K Brimacombe, Metall Trans B Vol 21B, 1990, pp 637- 648. 3 M B Goldschmit and A H Coppola Owen, Ironmaking & Steelmaking, Vol 28, 2001, pp 337-341. 4 M Iguchi, K Nozawa, and Z Morita, ISIJ Int , Vol 31, 1991, pp 952-959.

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From John Cockerill to CMI. From CMI to John Cockerill. The encounter between traditional values and modern trends has helped us to offer the bestadapted response to modern clients’ aspiration.

Inspired by the visionary and entrepreneurial personality of its founder, CMI once again becomes John Cockerill. Since 1817, the strong commitment to a culture of creative thinkers helped us to provide innovative and profitable answers to the needs of our clients. Resolutely oriented towards the future, innovation forms an inherent part of our engineering. While growth is substantial, the challenge is to focus on generating sustainable progress. This is what we have done for the past 200 years.

Design | Engineering | Technical Assistance & Training | After Sales

INDUSTRY METALS Reheating Furnaces Pickling Acid Regeneration Cold Rolling Strip Processing Automation


Danieli Answers to be a step ahead


Danieli co2 reduction benchmark technology From carbon-based BF route to hot DRI, directly charged into the EAF

Metallurgical results obtained from DRI+EAF steelmaking equal those obtained with the blast furnace+converter process, for quality clean steel for demanding applications, including exposed automotive parts. Considering the lower CO2 release of the DRI+EAF process, 800 vs. 1,800 kgCO2/tls for the BF+BOF, the DR+EAF route offers the most environmentally friendly solution to couple with the international and particularly European emission regulations (COP 21), which are becoming stricter and more expensive (carbon tax). The 800 kgCO2/tls result is obtained thanks to the Energiron DR process technology developed by Tenova HYL and Danieli, and Danieli FastArc EAF. Furthermore, the Energiron Zero Reformer technology development allows the use of up to 70% hydrogen as a reduction agent, instead of 100% natural gas, without compromising the DRI quality and allowing liquid steel production with CO2 emissions down to 324 kgCO2/tls.

Twenty Danieli answers to be a step ahead 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08.

Danieli_pagine_2020_esecutivi_A3_05_14.indd 3-4

Sustainability CO2 reduction 4.0 intelligent plant MIDA ECR QSP DUE Digimelter Energiron DRI Long-life BF

09. Quality slab casters 10. Pickling and cold mills 11. Galvanizing / Air knives 12. Billet casters 13. Billet welders 14. Wirerod mills 15. Rail and section mills 16. The Drawer sizing block 17. Reheating systems 18. Seamless tubes 19. Extrusion lines 20. Aluminium mills

European customers are requesting feasibility studies for Energiron technology combined with EAF steelmaking via Hytemp hot charging as a replacement for the ironmaking process.

26/06/20 11:02


Danieli Answers to be a step ahead


Danieli co2 reduction benchmark technology From carbon-based BF route to hot DRI, directly charged into the EAF

Metallurgical results obtained from DRI+EAF steelmaking equal those obtained with the blast furnace+converter process, for quality clean steel for demanding applications, including exposed automotive parts. Considering the lower CO2 release of the DRI+EAF process, 800 vs. 1,800 kgCO2/tls for the BF+BOF, the DR+EAF route offers the most environmentally friendly solution to couple with the international and particularly European emission regulations (COP 21), which are becoming stricter and more expensive (carbon tax). The 800 kgCO2/tls result is obtained thanks to the Energiron DR process technology developed by Tenova HYL and Danieli, and Danieli FastArc EAF. Furthermore, the Energiron Zero Reformer technology development allows the use of up to 70% hydrogen as a reduction agent, instead of 100% natural gas, without compromising the DRI quality and allowing liquid steel production with CO2 emissions down to 324 kgCO2/tls.

Twenty Danieli answers to be a step ahead 01. 02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08.

Danieli_pagine_2020_esecutivi_A3_05_14.indd 3-4

Sustainability CO2 reduction 4.0 intelligent plant MIDA ECR QSP DUE Digimelter Energiron DRI Long-life BF

09. Quality slab casters 10. Pickling and cold mills 11. Galvanizing / Air knives 12. Billet casters 13. Billet welders 14. Wirerod mills 15. Rail and section mills 16. The Drawer sizing block 17. Reheating systems 18. Seamless tubes 19. Extrusion lines 20. Aluminium mills

European customers are requesting feasibility studies for Energiron technology combined with EAF steelmaking via Hytemp hot charging as a replacement for the ironmaking process.

26/06/20 11:02



New creative heights for PVD PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) has upheld its promise to provide architects and design directors with unprecedented scope and range in their projects, but they may not have realised that the blank canvas of what they can do is only getting larger. By Steven Nghe*

IN the past, large-scale PVD projects were exclusively the domain of manufacturers outside of the USA. If architects and design directors wanted to incorporate PVD into their projects, that meant longer production times and more complicated supply chains. Domestic PVD was limited to the tiny chambers available stateside and only found its way into small items such as medical devices, smartphone gadgets, and jewellery. Kloeckner Metals’ partnership with Chinese-headquartered Double Stone Steel breathed new life into domestic PVD. The licensing agreement allowed the company to use Double Stone Steel’s proprietary technology to produce, market, and sell large-scale PVD-coated sheets and fabricated parts in the US. From the start, the union gave commercial businesses stateside the opportunity to design and colour the face of their buildings and structures to the extent of their imagination. Since then, Kloeckner has de facto become the largest producer of PVD in the

USA, both in terms of overall output and in terms of its product capabilities. The US company produces up to 60-inch by 144-inch sheets of PVD-coated stainless steel. In contrast, even companies in Asia, the traditional source for larger PVD applications, typically produce 48-inch by 96-inch sheets or 48-inch by 120-inch sheets. Kloeckner not only stands alone in the sizes it can produce, it is the only producer of PVD domestically that can handle both sheets and profiles. With four chambers, Kloeckner can produce anything from small machine parts to large fabrications. Those small machine parts are ultrasonically cleaned and coloured in a small profile chamber. It can include appliance accessories like handles and knobs to prefabricated parts for pizza ovens. It can also include wire mesh and perforated sheets. What is PVD? PVD stands for Physical Vapour Deposition,

a technique that vaporises a sacrificial element and deposits it on a metal surface at the micron level. Rather than add a layer, it actually changes the physical properties of the surface. The combination of the sacrificial metal – which is typically titanium, but can also be aluminium, chromium, or whole alloys like copper or gold – and an inert gas creates colour according to specific formulas. One of the facets of PVD that makes it so attractive to architects and design directors is the palette of colours that are available. Favourites are black, gold, cobalt, and emerald green, but customers can also customise colours for unique projects or branding requirements. The colour not only enhances the look of the stainless finish, it also adds durability and longevity. Another is that it’s not just the colour that’s customisable, but also the surfaces and fabrication options. Customers can pick from a range of metallic surfaces, but also mirror, coil and mesh products, as well as textured materials. Though the substrate

* Head of marketing & communications July/August 2020

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Main image: 712, 5th Avenue 1. PVD means more colourful designs


2. PVD offers anti-fingerprint (AF) coating 3. The Vessel at Hudson Yards, New York


4. Kate Spade shop



picks up a brilliant colour, the finish maintains the integrity and look of stainless. And they can choose to fabricate, laser cut, or bend it without crazing or flaking the edges. What’s new with PVD? Originally, Kloeckner Metals installed four PVD lines at its Cincinnati branch, a development that took over a year between electrical, power, water, and layout. For an organisation with steel servicing at its heart, preparing to process and fabricate parts was quite the undertaking. In the beginning Kloeckner added everything required to process large sheets and parts: vacuum chambers, sheet washers, and ultrasonic tanks. Now, Kloeckner has added a magnetron sputtering system—the largest of its kind in the world—to not only help with applying black and blue colours that are inherently more unstable, but also to add AF, or anti-fingerprint coatings. The titanium ion coating of AF superpowers the PVD, enhancing corrosion, scratch, wear, and saltwater resistance, among a host of other benefits.

steel processing NGHE.indd 2

Kloeckner Metals’ AF coating is a nanolayer polymer coating deposited onto the surface of our PVD material. It is a 3-step process: the PVD or stainless layer is plasma cleaned, and then prepared by depositing an ultra-thin silicon oxide layer, followed by thermal deposition of the polymer. It is very similar to the anti-smudge coating found on many prescription glasses lenses. AF coating repels fingerprints, water, oil, and even Sharpie markers, making AF coated material easy to clean and maintain. The nano-AF coating is so thin that it does not change the surface texture, visual characteristics, or formability of the material. And, just like standard stainless steel, AF-coated PVD can be formed, shear cut, laser cut, water jet cut, bent, or punched. Harder than stainless steel Compared to other companies that typically apply AF through a spray that wears quickly and dulls the finish of stainless steel, Kloeckner’s AF finish bonds during the vapour process and is even harder than stainless steel.

The truth is that ‘anti fingerprint’ doesn’t live up to its capabilities. Because it transparently bonds so well to smooth surfaces, AF provides an anti-graffiti finish as well. It can’t be spray painted or even written on with a sharpie and is an appropriate fit for high-traffic and highvisibility areas. And, unlike traditional AF, Kloeckner’s AF can be applied to #8 mirror. The AF finish also repels water and works well on building exteriors, restaurant industry equipment, hospital doors and medical equipment, and other surfaces that are outdoors or require frequent cleaning. Water or rain spots do not form as water beads off of any surface that is inclined more than five degrees from horizontal. Fingerprints, smudges, and stains easily wipe off. It provides a moderate increase to colour stability in direct sunlight conditions. Water and dew combined with UV light account for a large portion of weathering. With the AF coating, water and dew do not adhere to the surface to the same degree as normal PVD-coated material. It provides additional corrosion resistance. July/August 2020

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Roller table used to unload sheets of PVD

PVD vacuum chambers

Where can you find AF PVD? With new capabilities and coatings, PVD is showing up on more than just architectural facades, but also in storefronts and new industries like vaping. Architectural In architectural, you’re starting to see more colourful buildings and structures with decorative and branded elements. Metalwork is often colour-matched to finishes. New PVD-coloured materials, like perforated sheets, are being incorporated into facades, elevator interiors, and more – and an increasing number of projects are taking advantage of AF. 712 5th Avenue One example is 712 5th Avenue, a 650 foot tall (200 metre) LEED Gold skyscraper at 56th Street and Fifth Avenue in the Midtown neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was constructed from 1990 to 1991 and is the 92nd tallest building in New York. Original architects Kohn Pedersen Fox returned to create impressive upgrades and a striking lobby renovation, inspiring a new era of excellence in the Plaza District and inviting the next generation of eminent players to make their impact. It features a custom Champagne PVD with anti-finger print (AF), curved acrylic entrance, and marble reception. Blue at the zoo Showcasing both AF and mirror #8, the Omaha Zoo recreated its interior with over 300 sheets of blue #8 mirror. Catering to hundreds of thousands of visitors each July/August 2020

steel processing NGHE.indd 3

year, the Omaha Zoo was primed to take advantage of AF PVD and its combination of beauty and durability. Storefronts The Kate Spade storefront is located inside the open-air Westfield UTC shopping mall in the University City community of San Diego. Crisp colour, graphic prints and playful sophistication are the hallmarks of Kate Spade New York. The rose gold mirror PVD store front represents the spirited approach, commitment to curiosity, and passion for sharing the colourful world that shapes all that is Kate Spade New York. Vaping Kloeckner PVD is starting to show up in the vaping industry, including the tool processing and fabricated parts and mesh. Appliances Kloeckner has also made great headway in appliances, especially high-end appliances, with a focus on knobs, handles, hood ranges, pizza ovens, and more. PVD comes into play with specific design requests, for example stainless steel refrigerators with copper handles or poles. What’s changed in the US As volatility in the global industry reaches new levels, Kloeckner’s position as a topthree steel service centre in the United States means it has a dependable network of domestic supply chains. With over 200,000 products and 43 service centres, the company has a national footprint and a very diverse offering. Kloeckner is typically adding value to

products that range from aluminium to flatrolled products that are used in industries such as automotive, appliance, electrical, heavy plates for ships and vessels, as well as structural products used in construction and architecture – giving architects and design directors a large canvas to choose from. Between sheet size and stateside availability, domestic PVD projects are poised to grow in the US. There’s no longer any need for architects and design directors to shy away from large-scale projects out of fear of 20- to 30-week shipment lead times. It means that Kloeckner is able to offer a onetwo-three punch of versatility, dependability and speed when it comes to PVD offerings at a time when supply chains around the globe are being severely disrupted. The future of PVD While Kloeckner AF is the latest development in PVD, it is poised for more innovation. With an ongoing global pandemic, there has been more interest in PVD’s anti-microbial properties. Kloeckner will soon release data on different tests, including UV, firing and flame, and salt spray. Architects and design directors will get access to new data about the durability of PVD products to help in their decisionmaking. With new in-house developments in PVD itself, every day at Kloeckner Metals presents new and original projects that reflect unique artistic visions, everything from architectural feats to beautiful storefronts to state-of-the-art appliances. It is not hyperbolic to say that every day, the creative scope of what PVD can do reaches new limits. �

15/07/2020 06:53:26



Analysing EAF voltage measurement It is well known that secondary side voltage measurement for three-phase electric arc furnaces (AC EAF) is influenced by the strong alternating magnetic fields of the high current system. The induced fault voltages distort the measured voltages in magnitude and in phase. Based on simulations with BSE’s Finite Network Method (FNM) we are able to analyse quantitatively the fault voltages and examine the influences of the routing and the connecting points of voltage measuring lines on measured voltages. In this article, Dirk Riedinger* explains the phenomena and the optimal secondary voltage measurement set-up. He also provides some simulation results. What is induction? Induction was discovered and examined by Michael Faraday in 1831. He found that the alternating magnetic field of an alternating current causes an alternating voltage in a nearby separate circuit. This is the induced voltage (by mutual induction). Induction is also present in the ‘source’ circuit itself and is a kind of back reaction on the circuit (self induction). If a circuit is made of large cross section conductors then the alternating magnetic field causes eddy currents which result in skin and proximity effects (current displacement), see Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 computed with FNM for example (red: high current density, blue: low current density).

Both effects, induced circuit voltages and eddy currents, appear in EAF high current systems and cause associated characteristic problems. The analysis tool FNM The large conductors of EAF (length, cross section) are subject to very significant induction effects. These effects and the real geometry have to be considered for realistic simulation results. The appropriate tool is the Finite Network Method (FNM) which was created by Professor A Farschtschi [1]. It is based on a very refined and advanced application of the electromagnetic field theory. This is required because the problem

to be computed is very complicated. FNM was developed into a programme system by BSE [2 - 5] and is unique in the steel industry. It is presently the only tool suitable for the simulation of the very challenging electromagnetic effects that appear in EAF high current systems or similar large conductor systems with arbitrary geometry and provides the following features: • Realistic conductor system modelling. • The accuracy of the computed solutions only depends on the discretisation level of the three-dimensional model. FNM is a semi-analytical method and already rough discretisation results in good solutions.

Fig 2.Induced eddy currents in stools Fig 1. Skin and Proximity effect

* Badische Stahl-Engineering GmbH (BSE), Kehl, Germany.

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July/August 2020

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• Only conductors/conducting materials have to be considered and no vast empty space like in other electromagnetic field simulation methods. This makes FNM very efficient. • All induction effects (current displacement, eddy currents, circulating currents) in main conductors as well as induced eddy currents in peripheral conducting materials (eg electrode arm stool) are included (AC EAF). • FNM also applies to DC EAF. In general the current density of DC circuits is also not uniformly distributed in the conductors. • Computed results for electric losses, magnetic field, magnetic forces (AC and DC) and for measured voltages, system impedances and asymmetry (AC) are very accurate. • FNM simulations are desktop studies based on customer drawings and data of the complete high current system. Voltage measurement at AC EAF With the three-phase system EAF it is necessary to measure the phase to starpoint voltages (electrode voltages) at the high current system. These are required for the electrode regulating system, which vertically positions the three graphite electrodes depending on the voltage and current of each phase. Phase voltages need to be tapped at certain points of the high current conductors on the secondary side (LV side) of the furnace transformer. The measuring lines are then somehow routed to the voltage measuring PT which is usually located inside the transformer vault and which steps down the measured voltages to a standardised level of typically 100 to120 July/August 2020

Electric steelmaking BSE.indd 2

Fig 3. Optimal voltage meas-

Fig 4. Optimal voltage

urement setup at EAF with

measurement setup at EAF

internal delta closure

with external delta closure

V. Voltages are always measured between two points, so the starpoint of the PT needs to be connected to the furnace starpoint. The real ‘internal’ furnace starpoint is inside the charge material between the electrodes and is not accessible. Only an ‘external’ furnace starpoint connection is feasible. This is located somewhere in the conductive and grounded furnace structure. So the furnace starpoint has got ground potential approximately – not exactly due to local eddy currents and circulating loop currents. The main problem now is that the voltage measuring lines create loops with certain loop areas with high current conductors. These loops are subject to induction by the strong magnetic fields of the high current system. In effect, the measured ‘electrode’ voltages are distorted by induced fault voltages. The magnitude of the distortion can be analysed by applying FNM considering internal and external delta closure on the LV side of furnace transformers. EAF transformers are normally delta-delta connected. The internal delta closure is hidden inside the transformer tank and has no effect. The external delta closure is made of large diameter tubes or bars that are merged outside the transformer vault to build the three corners (vertexes) of the delta. It belongs to the high current system. The quantitative analysis with FNM leads to the following results for the furnace LV side voltage measurement setup: 1. The reference ground cable, which is the measuring line that connects the PT starpoint with the furnace starpoint, must not lead a current because the voltages are measured. A voltage measurement always has high impedence. If the reference

ground cable leads a current then the setup is wrong. Compare Fig.3 and Fig.4. It is important that the PT primary and PT secondary starpoints are not connected to each other. 2. The way the reference ground cable is routed has an almost negligible influence on the fault voltages because the distance between this cable and the high current conductors is relatively large and the magnetic field strength declines quickly with distance. This means that the inductances of the measuring loops are practically constant and insensitive to small variations of the geometry. It does not matter, therefore, if the reference ground cable is routed some metres to the left or right. Even a ‘large’ asymmetry from a raised electrode arm (which is really comparably small) does not significantly change the fault voltages. A routing that results in zero fault voltage is impossible. 3. The reference ground cable does not need to be connected to the furnace bottom centre (which is closest to the ‘internal’ furnace starpoint). It is sufficient to connect it to the outside of the rocker where it will be well protected against heat and won’t require regular maintenance. 4. From experience it is known that electrode regulation works even without a properly connected reference ground cable. FNM simulations show that, theoretically, the reference ground cable could be connected to different points of the conductive furnace structure without significant additional distortion of the measured voltages because the whole furnace structure is conductive and interconnected. Even multiple conductive connections of a damaged

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Fig 5. FNM simulation model top and bottom view

reference ground cable to the furnace structure are not a real problem because the induced eddy currents (or circulating currents) in the large structure have little effect on the ground potentials measured at different locations of the structure. However the connection to the rocker is a defined position and preferable. Ideally the reference ground cable should be an insulated cable that does not pick up other ground potentials along its route. The PT starpoint must be isolated from all other ground potentials, especially from the general electrical grounding system (PE) of the transformer and HV switchgear, otherwise circulating currents of more than 100 A are likely to occur (and be measured). 5. With external delta closure the phase voltages must be tapped close to the vertexes of the delta. Theoretically the connection must be at the vertexes where the high current cables are connected, but the simulations show that the connection can be made inside the delta, not far from the vertexes. The additional error is then small, although generally a connection far inside the delta has to be avoided. The advantage of a connection inside the delta is practical: the measuring cables do not lie outside the transformer vault and are thus well protected against heat, dust and mechanical impact. It is possible that a measuring cable breaks outside and then the electrode regulation will not work any more – a fault not easily found usually. 6. Alternatively the delta could be closed as early as possible, i.e. inside the vault. This would reduce the delta size and thus its impedances, but increase the line impedances a little because the tubes from the new vertexes to the connecting points of the high current cables (old vertexes) then have a similar effect as the high current cables. This means that total system reactance increases a

Electric steelmaking BSE.indd 3

little (range: 3% to 5 %). 7. With internal delta closure, the phase voltages can be tapped close to the transformer terminals for convenience, regardless of whether or not a high current loop for triangulation is installed in the centre phase. 8. How the phase voltage measuring lines are routed is again of minor influence and the fault voltages cannot be eliminated. However, ideally, the three cables should be installed without detour and run perpendicularly to the side and be bundled as soon as possible to avoid the loop area. The PT must be located some distance from the high current tubes to avoid induction problems such as heating and other distortions. As a rule of thumb, the lower limit of this distance is calculated from maximum electrode RMS current by millimetres or inches much greater than: kA x 25 mm/kA (kA x 1 “/kA). 9. The fault voltages have been computed for short circuit conditions, so without arcs. However, the magnitudes of the fault voltages do not significantly change with arc voltage (arc length). This is because their magnitudes are determined by the inductances of the high current system. Arcs do not change these significantly (see 2.). Harmonics generated by the arcs will increase the fault voltages slightly because the inductances are apparently increased (� operating reactance phenomenon). 10. The magnitudes of the fault voltages depend proportionally on those of the electrode currents and on the dimensions of the high current system. During short circuit conditions the fault voltages are greatest. 11. The electric arc furnace is a threephase system in a star connection without a neutral conductor and, therefore, always i1 + i2 + i3 = 0 instantaneously in the charge

starpoint. This ‘real’ charge starpoint can be assumed to be a concentrated point. The real ‘electrode’ voltages uµ0 which are not measurable ‘meet’ in the pointlike ‘real’ starpoint of the currents. 12. There are always three different fault voltages uFµ = uµM – uµ0 (different in magnitude and phase), one per measured voltage regardless of whether an internal or external delta closure is installed and this is because there are three measuring wires from the phase conductors to the PT. All three fault voltages have approximately the same ‘direction’ in terms of star point shift. But there is no pointlike measuring starpoint any more, the measuring starpoint degenerates into a diffuse area. 13. As the fault voltages cannot be eliminated, it makes no sense to measure the active power and the energy on the high current side. Distortions are significant and the measured error for the total active power is in a range up to approximately 6 % compared to the accurate primary side. Experience shows that electrode regulating systems typically determine more or less wrong active power and energy. Also a diptest (short circuit test) to determine short circuit impedances is not meaningful on the high current side for the same reason. 14. The measured impedances Zµ = UµM / Iµ (µ = 1,2,3) used for electrode regulation have the same distortions as voltages. This influences the reaction of the electrode regulation, which always works with more or less distorted impedances, especially in short circuit condition. However, there are many other influences on the performance of an electrode regulating system such as parameter settings, the mechanical stability of the furnace, and the hydraulic system. Fig.3 and Fig.4 depict the optimal voltage measurement set-up for AC EAF. July/August 2020

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In Fig.4 there are three connecting positions for the measuring lines indicated at the external delta closure of the transformer. Position (1) is the connection at the vertexes (red dots) of the delta outside of the vault where the high current cables are connected. Position (2) is the allowed connection at one tube of a delta side inside the vault, close to the vertexes, and position (3) is a connection at one tube of a delta side close to the transformer terminals, which is not allowed because the additional error there is too large.

U- F2 = 22.8 V U- F3 = U - 3M – U - 30 = (–22.2 –j 19.9) V UF3 = 29.8 V For comparison the fault voltage magnitudes for the same system but with a measuring line connection inside the delta (Fig.4) are: a) Close to the vertexes: UF1 = 29.1 V, UF2 = 24.1 V, UF3 = 27.9 V b) At the transformer terminals: UF1 = 28.5 V, UF2 = 42.1 V, UF3 = 22.5 V

FNM simulation example To discuss all computed simulation scenarios in detail would be beyond the limits of this article. Fig.5, therefore, depicts the model used with FNM, a furnace in short circuit condition. Starting with this, the routing and connections of the measuring lines were varied. The model contains a simplified furnace structure (shell and platform) in which eddy currents are induced and which acts like a shield. The measuring lines of the model examined in the following are connected to the vertexes of the external delta closure (Fig.4). The sinusoidal (transformer) source voltages inside the delta are 260 V with 120° phase shift. The following values are expressed in complex arithmetic (C- = Real ±j Imaginary) which is very useful for sinusoidal conditions because it indicates, at a glance, the magnitude and phase of voltage and current, the active and reactive power and the resistance and reactance.

Real phase powers active / reactive / magnitude (cables + arms + electrodes): S- 10 = (1.25 +j 9.70) MVA S10 = 9.78MVA S- 20 = (1.69 +j 8.77) MVA S20 = 8.93MVA S- 30 = (1.31 +j 10.23) MVA S30 = 10.32MVA S- 0total = (4.25 +j 28.70) MVA S30 = 29.01 MVA Measured phase powers active / reactive / magnitude (cables + arms + electrodes): S- 1M = (2.63 +j 8.26) MVA S1M = 8.67 MVA S- 2M = (1.81 +j 10.53) MVA S2M = 10.68 MVA S- 3M = (–0.23 +j 8.94) MVA S3M = 8.95 MVA S- Mtotal = (4.21 +j 27.73) MVA S30 = 28.05 MVA Real phase short circuit resistances / reactances (cables + arms + electrodes): -Z10 = 0.292 +j 2.273 mOhm -Z20 = 0.281 +j 1.454 mOhm -Z30 = 0.288 +j 2.250 mOhm Measured phase short circuit resistances / reactances (cables + arms + electrodes): -Z1M = 0.617 +j 1.936 mOhm -Z2M = 0.300 +j 1.746 mOhm -Z3M = 0.051 +j 1.967 mOhm

Computation results for the model of figure 5 Electrode currents in short circuit: I-1 = (–18.5 –j 62.7) kA I1 = 65.3 kA I-2 = (–48.9 +j 60.3) kA I2 = 77.7 kA I-3 = (67.4 +j 2.3) kA I3 = 67.4 kA

example system. For other configurations, the errors can be larger. As mentioned, the measurement of the powers on the high current system side are generally unreliable. Power and energy consumption should always be measured on the HV side at the furnace supply busbar. Calculating arc voltages from a secondary side measurement is also meaningless. The result for the measured short circuit impedances is typical and clearly indicates the influence of the fault voltages. Many three-phase, shortcircuit test measurements (diptests) done on the furnace side state results like this. It is clear that these resistance values are unreal (as well as the negative active power P3M). A diptest acc. to IEC 60676 which requires three consecutive single phase tests (12, 23, 31) also suffers from the inaccuracy of the distorted measured voltages. Conclusion The LV side voltage measurement of AC arc furnaces is always more or less disturbed by induction. The induced fault voltages cannot be eliminated. However, electrode regulating systems can perform well because the variation of system inductances, and also the magnitudes of fault voltages, are comparably small. We have shown that voltage measurement can be set up in such a way that additional errors are avoided. � Acknowledgements This work was supported by discussions with Prof. A. Farschtschi. However, the responsibility for the content is solely with the author, Dirk Riedinger. References [1] Farschtschi A.: „An advanced computation system to solve electromagnetic problems in arc furnaces”, Steel Times International, September 2011, p. 32-35

Real voltages phase – starpoint 0: U - 10 = (137.0 –j 60.3) V U10 = 149.7 V U - 20 = (–101.4 –j 54.2) V U20 = 115.0 V U - 30 = (14.1 +j 152.3) V U30 = 153.0 V

[2] Riedinger D., Vogel A., Benz S., Farschtschi A.: „A

Measured voltages phase – starpoint M: U - 1M = (109.9 –j 73.4) V U1M = 132.6 V U - 2M = (–120.0 –j 67.3) V U2M = 137.6 V U - 3M = (–8.1 +j 132.4) V U3M = 132.7 V

published in German in elektrowärme international,

Fault voltages: U - F1 = U1 - M–U - 10 = (–27.1 –j 14.1) V UF1 = 30.6 V UF2 = U – U = - 2M - 20 (–18.6 –j 13.2) V July/August 2020

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new dimension of designing arc furnace high current systems“, stahl&eisen 135 (2015), Nr. 8, p. 49-52 [3] Farschtschi A., Riedinger D., Vogel A.: „Determination of short circuit impedances of EAF “, 2-2016, p. 83-88 [4] Riedinger D.: „Computation of Eddy current problems for arbitrary conductor geometry“,

The measured phase powers have significant deviations in their active and reactive parts in short circuit as well as during normal operation. The measured and real total powers are quite close for this

published in German in elektrowärme international, 2-2017, p. 57-60 [5] Riedinger D.: „Magnetic forces on electrodes and steel bath in the EAF“, MPT international 3/2018, p. 28-30

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Increase productivity, reduce energy Advanced Process Control (APC) can help steel manufacturers optimise their processes and work more efficiently. APC uses state-of-the-art Model Predictive Control (MPC) technology enabling customers to squeeze more value out of existing production processes, says Tarun Mathur*

TODAY’S steel manufacturer is facing a number of challenges that range from safeguarding competitiveness to meeting changing customer needs with flexibility and speed. These require steel plants to maximise operating performance, while maintaining quality and yield, and controlling maintenance and inventory levels. In addition, companies need to find ways of retaining expert human knowledge accumulated over many years, after the experts themselves come towards the end of their working lives. In this regard, automating certain processes not only ensures consistency of control, but also enables processes to operate smoothly in the absence of human operators, right around the clock. Advanced Process Control (APC) using model predictions is one of the ways to run the processes on autopilot mode with minimum intervention from operators. Digitalisation: the power of partnership To best realise the advantages of digitalisation, steel manufacturers require a partner with in-depth knowledge and experience of not only the available digital technologies, but also the industry’s specific processes. This integration of OT and IT

expertise ensures digitalisation projects do not simply look good, but provide efficient return on investment (ROI). When selecting a digital transformation partner, it is crucial to choose a company with domain, industry and process knowledge, preferably with many years’ experience working with third-party and legacy integration. Specific capacities, such as the ability to apply cutting edge tools including cloud integration, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence, together with proven development models including profitable methods of joint working are also critical. Advanced Process Control The concept of APC, and the ways in which it can be tailored to industryspecific processes –­­ given the right level of knowledge and expertise – offers a great potential for a metals industry seeking solutions that provide tangible and guaranteed returns. Today, APC is fundamental to the success of certain processes within many industries, and is increasingly being applied today in steel production. Although it is technically advanced and not without complexities, APC can be considered simply as the autopilot for driving the plant to an optimum state

around the clock. It is traditionally based on Model Predictive Control (MPC), a technology with proven ability to provide control solutions using constraints, feedforward and feedback to handle multivariable processes that feature delays and processes with strong interactive loops. Using a plant model and objective functions, MPC can predict system behaviour some steps into the future – put simply, it produces a digital twin of any process and predicts the way it will act. Based on this predictive functionality, APC is able to automatically adjust operational set points to ensure peak plant performance and productivity. Its ability to make frequent, small changes, avoids large corrections or over-compensation for changes in conditions, creating a stable process, before steadily and smoothly moving to and maintaining an optimal operating state (Fig. 1). In this way, APC is able to enhance quality, raise throughput and reduce energy use. APC is already used in a variety of industries to facilitate operational change, offering significant ROI. In the cement industry, for example, APC has been used to optimise both horizontal and vertical grinding circuits to improve productivity. Given the similar process and equipment

* Global product manager for Metals Digital at ABB

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APC now maintains the dryer temperature even with changes in feed rate and process delays, achieving a 10% reduction in the standard deviation of the temperature (Fig. 2). The implementation of APC has stabilised temperature conditions within the dryer, improving overall performance and productivity.

delays, and variations in the calorific value of the blast furnace gas (which makes temperature control difficult).

Controlling the indurating machine burners Optimisation of the global steelmaker’s indurating machines also posed a problem, due to the high interaction between control loops, as well as variation in feed rate, machine speed and bed height, which

Temperature limits are, therefore, often not met, resulting in insufficient drying of the material, negatively impacting energy consumption and productivity. Moreover, control of the drying kiln with conventional PID controllers is unstable, mainly due to process delays. At an Indian steel plant, ABB was tasked with maintaining the outlet temperature at the desired setpoint, irrespective of the above challenges. APC was implemented with dryer outlet temperature as the controlled variable and fuel flow as the manipulated variable. A model of dryer outlet temperature was developed based on plant data to include the fuel flow control valve and disturbance variables, such as feed rate. The model is used to predict the upcoming control performance, calculating setpoint corrections, which are then downloaded to Level-1 PID controllers.

interferes with temperature control in the firing zone. This can result in fluctuations in the firing zone temperature up to +/- 30°C, making it difficult to maintain the burnthrough temperature of the pellets. To resolve these issues, it was necessary to stabilise the temperature profiles of eight burner zones (Fig.3). An offline model of burner zone temperature was developed, including fuel flow control valve and disturbance variables, such as bed height. The model was used to predict control performance in the near future, calculating setpoint corrections that were then downloaded to Level-1 PID controllers. As a result, the customer has benefitted from a 15% reduction in the standard deviation of the temperature profile along the indurating machine burner zone (Fig. 4). This has helped ensure burn-out temperature is reached at the right location,

Fig 1. APC acts as the autopilot to an optimal operating state, first stabilising then optimising plant performance

used across both the cement and metals industries, such examples offer practical insight into the sort of savings APC could offer to steel producers in their own grinding processes. In one example, an Advanced Process Control solution for cement was installed on a grinding circuit that included a roller-press with static V-separator and single chamber ball mill, achieving an improvement in control with a 4% increase in production, a 3% saving in energy, and a 60% reduction in the standard deviation of the rate of returns (tph). In the cement industry – which, like the steel industry makes use of sinter – APC can also be used to optimise raw mix proportioning in the sinter plant, as it already does for the raw mix entering the cement plant pyroprocess. With varying iron ore characteristics posing challenges to the production of a consistent steel product, using APC to balance the dosing ratio of base, limestone, dolomite and coke has the potential to minimise chemical variation before material enters the sinter machine. Following the implementation of APC in a range of other industries – not only cement but also mining and pulp and paper – and working together with steelmakers, ABB has now developed APC applications for metals plants covering processes that pose clear and established challenges to steel plant operations. Case study: ABB AbilityTM Advanced Process Control for metals ABB AbilityTM Advanced Process Control for metals has already been implemented at one steelmaker to optimise the pellet plant dryer and indurating machine burners. Optimising the pellet plant dryer Pellet plant dryers face a range of operating challenges, including intermittent disturbances in feed rates, long process July/August 2020

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Fig 2. ABB AbilityTM Advanced Process Control for metals helps maintain outlet temperature

Fig. 3. Multi-variable APC directly controls the burner valves in order to stabilise the

for the pellet plant dryer, stabilising the temperature and helping to optimise performance

temperatures in the burning zones.

improving the quality of the pellets. It has also reduced temperature variation, leading to a reduction in fuel consumption in the burners. Typical savings, based on on-site results from over 300 references worldwide, include: • 2%-3% increase in output. • 1%-2% reduction in fuel consumption. • 2%-3% reduction in electricity consumption. • 10%-20% reduction in quality variation. • 10%-20% reduction in refractory consumption. Considered together with ongoing results from the metals implementation discussed above, we can expect similar improvements for metals customers.

process control ABB.indd 3

Conclusion Given the ever-challenging conditions in the steel market, intelligent plants that remove ambiguity and eliminate guesswork represent the future of the industry, by placing every aspect and detail within the control of skilled operators. APC is an essential part of that intelligent plant – indeed, it is the intelligence that makes a plant smart. By accurately modelling process conditions using Model Predictive Control – and ultimately AI and other advanced technologies – APC is able to predict and respond to multi-variable conditions in a way that is beyond any human operator. In doing so, it is a vital tool for those human operators in maintaining peak productivity and performance consistently. As APC technology continues to evolve, the potential of AI with reinforcement learning neural networks, as well as edge and cloud technology, is now being explored to provide a set of Advanced Process Control and analytics services for monitoring, predictive analytics and closed-

loop control. However, this can only be truly successful where the partnership between those undertaking these complex processes, and those supplying APC expertise is based on a deep and common understanding of the challenges and requirements of specific industries. APC technology is built on the three core pillars of digitalisation – a unified, connected, data-led ecosystem; smart algorithms, deep analytics and AI to translate data into actionable insights; and with deep domain knowledge, such a solution offers the paradigmatic shift in operating performance needed by today’s steel industry in order to survive and prosper. �

References 1. Zhou, Y. and Hu, L., “The Digital Revolution will Transform the Steel Industry”, World Economic Forum, 25 June 2019: agenda/2019/06/the-digital-revolution-willtransform-steel-and-metals-companies

Fig 4. Advanced Process Control for metals successfully reduced the standard deviation in temperature profile of the indurated machine burners

July/August 2020

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We are happy and optimistic US-based Philippi-Hagenbuch Inc has been building equipment for off-highway haul trucks since 1969 and has become the global leader in off-highway truck customisation. In addition to their innovative tailgates, push blocks, rear-eject bodies and trailers, the company designs and builds end-dump bodies, sideboards, load ejectors and water tanks for nearly every make and model of articulated and rigid frame off-highway truck available. Josh Swank* (pictured below) answers this month’s questions 1. How are things going at PHILIPPIHAGENBUCH? Is the steel industry keeping you busy? Philippi-Hagenbuch has seen a large demand from the steel industry in 2019 and through 2020. As we entered COVID-19, interest has remained steady and our build schedule looks good for the end of 2020 and into 2021.

degrees Fahrenheit (648.9 degrees Celsius). We also manufacture bodies and J-Hook containers for hauling scrap steel and finished steel coils, as well as trailers, water tanks and pallet carriers.

5. Can you discuss any major steel contracts you are currently working on? No comment. 6. Where does PHILIPPI-HAGENBUCH stand on the aluminium versus steel argument? We believe there is a place for both materials globally. As with any product, to achieve perfection, you need to use the correct ingredients for optimal results.

2. What is your view on the current state of the global steel industry? We are happy and optimistic. China’s demand for iron ore has increased. And while iron ore mining in the United States is currently slow due to COVID-19, globally, other regions, such as South America, are rising to meet the demand. With these early-warning indicators, we expect steel production in the United States to increase as confidence grows along with infrastructure and construction projects. 3. In which sector of the steel industry does PHILIPPI-HAGENBUCH mostly conduct its business? Philippi-Hagenbuch has been engineering custom haul-truck solutions for more than 50 years. In that time, we’ve established a close relationship with both steel mills and iron ore mines by providing innovative products that increase safety and productivity for a number of applications. We have worked with steel mills all over North America to develop industry-specific technologies and products that increase charge bucket life and reduce tap-to-tap times. This includes custom truck bodies and industrial strength J-Hook container haulers specially designed for transporting hot slag. These units employ SSAB Hardox® HiTemp steel, which is capable of transporting materials in excess of 1,200

North and South America.

For mining operations, we offer a range of equipment that maximises fleet productivity and minimises downtime. Each mine is unique, so we custom-build our high-volume bodies to site-specific conditions. These units are designed to stand up to the challenges of abrasive materials and extreme environments of hard rock/ore mining without sacrificing payload. We also manufacture water tanks for dust suppression and lowboy trailers for transporting shovels, excavators and other equipment within the mines. 4. Where in the world are you busiest at present? We are a global company, but the majority of our steel-related business is currently in

7. What are your views on Industry 4.0 and steelmaking and how, if at all, is PHILIPPI-HAGENBUCH using it? Technology has made society more efficient and safer. Industry 4.0 will undoubtedly provide the same benefits. Steel making is a science. By utilising technologies within Industry 4.0, the production of steel will most likely find benefits from cloud technology, analytics and system integrations. 8. “…any hint of doubt when it comes to predictions of climate doom is evidence of greed, stupidity, moral turpitude or psychological derangement.” This is a quote from Bret Stephens writing in The Wall Street Journal. Do you sympathise with his view? No comment. 9. Are you finding that steelmakers are looking to companies like PHILIPPIHAGENBUCH to offer them solutions in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability? If so, what can you offer them?

* Vice president of sales and marketing July/August 2020

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As a steel consumer and a manufacturer, we can look at this issue from both sides. The steel companies we partner with for our equipment needs have been very proactive when it comes to sustainability. They are constantly evolving their manufacturing processes and offering new solutions that we can then integrate into our designs to create a dynamically unique product. This is a partnership and working together, we are able to mutually provide sustainable products. The incorporation of high-temperature steel into our Hot Slag Bodies is one example of this. Using this material, we are able to reduce necessary plate thickness while maintaining the product’s service life for increased productivity in processing applications. Additionally, the thinner plate lowers the overall weight of the truck when travelling empty to save on fuel and reduces CO2 emissions We’ve also been working with a new material specially formulated to provide an optimised life in high-acid environments for use in our water tanks and certain highvolume truck bodies. The newly designed steel – SSAB Hardox® HiAce – drastically slows down the oxidation process, allowing the full hardness of the material to counteract wear even with acidic materials. This allows us to use a thinner plate without jeopardising the product’s service life, providing more payload when fully loaded and again reducing emissions.

10. How quickly has the steel industry responded to ‘green politics’ in terms of making the production process more environmentally friendly and are they succeeding or fighting a losing battle? No comment. 11. Where does PHILIPPI-HAGENBUCH lead the field in terms of steel production technology? As a manufacturer of uniquely engineered products, we have pushed the envelope from 1969 to present in the use of our steel. We have sought out unique and exotic steels from around the world well before global commerce was commonplace. From early use and documentation of bending tolerances of AR steel to incorporating hydrophobic and oleophobic steels into our products in unique applications, PHIL has been a market leader, using steel in ways it had not been used previously. This focus on high-quality materials and innovative design allow us to offer products tailor-made for our customers’ facilities that increase safety, productivity and profitability. 12. How do you view PHILIPPIHAGENBUCH’s development over the short-to-medium term in relation to the global steel industry? We have a strong pipeline.


13. What exhibitions and conferences will PHILIPPI-HAGENBUCH be attending over the next six months? With the current situation, we do not anticipate going to any exhibitions through Spring 2021. Instead, we are taking this time to focus on strengthening our relationships with customers, growing our team and continuing research and development. 14. Apart from strong coffee, what keeps you awake at night? I sleep well, knowing we produce the best equipment available globally. In steel and other industries, well-designed equipment, custom-engineered for a facility or mine’s particular operation is key to maximising productivity — as well as overall return on investment. I sleep well knowing that we help world-class companies do their jobs as efficiently and safely as possible. 15. If you possessed a superpower, how would you use it to improve the global steel industry? I would want the ability to shrink steel, making it small and lightweight for transport. Then, when it was time to build, I could return it to normal size, weight and properties. �

July/August 2020

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A bridge too far?

Inset: The use of Caissons revolutionised the laying of underwater foundations

Eugenis Birch perfected a method of screw piling which revolultionised the development of seaside piers

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s idea of a bridge across the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Ireland is not as barmy or as difficult as it seems, in fact it is quite achievable except for two things: money and political will. By Harry Hodson* IN the middle years of the 19th century, Victorian engineers put forward plans to bridge the English Channel with a roadway of wrought iron lattice girders resting on piers to cover the 21 miles of water from Dover to Calais. They were quite confident that this could be achieved by using technology that was available at the time. WH Barlow who was given the task of rebuilding the new Tay Bridge in 1885 gave confidence that the channel could be bridged by the same method. This stirred interest in getting the project underway. Details of the plans estimated that 76 piers would be needed to make the crossing working in seawater at depths of up to 100 feet. The tried and trusted method of laying underwater foundations in the 19th century had been carried out by I K Brunel and Benjamin Baker on the Tamar and Forth rail bridges. This required caissons made from iron or steel bolted together in sections to form a large cylinder. The caissons were sunk onto the river or sea bed to a height of several feet above high water. The water was pumped out to allow workmen to build stone or brick foundations on the riverbed. It was this practice that led to the discovery of the ‘bends’ which affected some workmen; it was dealt with by a medical team in a safe compartment within the caissons. One of the first on the scene was Sir Edward Watkin, MP for Salford. Watkin had made a fortune out of railways and

amassed more money than he could ever spend. He became one of the first to be interested in the idea of a bridge. However he had been dissuaded as it would not be in the best interest of the nation because of tensions with France. If his ideas had been put to the test a few years later then it could well have been implemented due to the Entente Cordiale of April 1904. Undeterred, Watkin decided to throw his weight and resources behind the idea of a tunnel, which in fact was driven quite some distance off the Dover coast. No one paid much attention to this work at the time until the appearance of two or three steam navies. Watkin was eventually closed down. By the end of 1882 the Abbot’s Cliff heading had reached 897 yards and the Shakespeare Cliff 2,040 yards in length. In order to get his name into the history books, Watkin decided that he would build a tower of steel instead, which had become widespread in use. The tower, to be named the Wembley Park Tower, would reach a height of 1,250 feet. Watkin organised a contest for plans and one was chosen. He invited Gustave Eiffel to oversee the project. Gustave was wined and dined by Watkin in order to convince him of the idea, but when he learned that the tower would be 250 feet higher than his own, he politely declined. Watkin went into the history books for all the wrong reasons. (See Steel Times International June 2004.)

Seaside piers Seaside Piers became popular in the early 19th century when the working classes could afford cheap rail travel to the various holiday resorts that were springing up around Great Britain. A great number of these piers are still in existence in their original condition. Their construction was simple and cheap, but required underwater foundations to rest upon. Eugenus Birch, an eccentric Victorian engineer and inventor who earned himself the nickname of ‘Eu– Genius Birch’, came up with the solution. He perfected a method of screw-piling which allowed piles to be driven into the seabed at low tide, thus eliminating the need for a a pile-driving tower. 20th Century technology Oil and gas exploration from the seabed requires working in much deeper waters than the aforementioned. This requires a number of steel platforms built up from the seabed to form a ‘rig’ from which drilling can be carried out. If Boris Johnson’s grand scheme ever comes to fruition, the technology is there, but it will require bridging 28 miles of water in depths up to 1,000 feet. It is estimated that 200kt of steel will be needed for the whole project, hopefully British steel – if Boris keeps his promise. Perhaps we could go a step further by adding wind turbines from the tops of the suspension cable towers. Go for it Boris, Brunel would have approved. �

* The author is an iron and steel specialist in the field of the industrial revolution July/August 2020

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