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Trump’s steel tariffs come home to roost

Making life safer for coke oven machine workers

Bernd Sachweh of ABB in Metals answers our questions

The role of steel in future mobility by Dr. Andrew Zoryk October 2019 - Vol.43 No7


Rolling out a stronger future. Together. BRAZIL STEEL INSTITUTE CONFERENCE 2019 – A STRONG DOMESTIC FOCUS STI Cover 2.indd 1

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MODERNIZATION In times of rapidly changing markets, you want to stay ahead of the competition. We listen. We learn. We deliver: our Modernization specialists will help you revamp your plant faster and flexibly for greater efficiency, lower operating costs, increased productivity, and better product quality. Whatever you envision, we will make it happen for you.

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Trump’s steel tariffs come home to roost

Making life safer for coke oven machine workers

Bernd Sachweh of ABB in Metals answers our questions

The role of steel in future mobility by Dr. Andrew Zoryk

20 Ironmaking Low coke-rate operation at Kobe Steel

2 Leader By Matthew Moggridge, editor, Steel Times International. October 2019 - Vol.43 No7


Picture courtesy of Quaker Houghton

Rolling out a stronger future. Together.


4 News round-up and facts & figures The latest news and diary dates

Cokemaking 24 Process data-based lifetime assessment of coke oven batteries 28 Safer coke making


09/10/2019 08:28:06

EDITORIAL Editor Matthew Moggridge Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855151 Consultant Editor Dr. Tim Smith PhD, CEng, MIM Production Editor/Design Guru 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

32 Raw materials Ongoing issues with coal

6 USA update It’s not that Hunky-Dory for US steelmakers

35 Rolling Advanced cold rolling by Fives

9 Steel markets Steel’s role in future mobility 12 Automotive The impact of AHSS on car making 14 Conference report: The 2019 Brazilian Steel Institute Conference The domestic agenda

Managing Director Steve Diprose Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855164

39 Ironmaking Laser contouring of steelmaking vessels 42 Perspectives: ABB Bernd Saptech answers the questions 44 History The Great Laxey Wheel

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Contents.indd 1

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I see a bad moon rising, I see trouble on the way...

Matthew Moggridge Editor

October 2019

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It’s a case of where to start with this month’s leader. Do I talk about the middle class bohemians, otherwise known as Extinction Rebellion, bringing London (and other cities) to a standstill as I write this, or do I bring up US President Donald Trump and his recent tweets threatening Turkey with economic obliteration should President Erdogan invade Northern Syria? Then again, there’s always Brexit, which, seems to ratchet up the anger as we edge closer to 31 October. It all adds up to a phrase I hear often at steel conferences around the world: ‘geopolitical strife’. I’m sure it will be mentioned at the forthcoming World Steel Association General Assembly in Monterrey this month which – at the time of writing – is yet to take place. I’ll be there, of course, so you’ll be getting a full report on what goes down. What annoys me about Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion is they assume that nothing is being done about the environment. One thing I do know is that the steel industry is at the cutting edge of efforts to ensure the production process is as climate-friendly as possible; there’s always a story about the latest on Hlsarna

or the Hybrit initiative or the circular economy, but I’m guessing that Tabitha from Totnes – jangling bangles, floral skirt – has no idea of the work undertaken by steelmakers to reduce the toll of steel production on the environment. As for Donald Trump and the situation in Turkey, well, it’s all sounding a bit worrying and I’m sure it will only have a negative effect on the Turkish steel industry should things ‘kick off’ as I suspect they will. I always expect the worst and often get it: a no-deal Brexit, the Turkish economy ‘obliterated’ by even more tariffs from Washington and, of course, the aforementioned middle class bohemians banging tambourines and lying in the road until the police carry them away. But what about those 25% steel tariffs introduced by Trump last year? Things aren’t that rosy in the US steel industry at present. Oversupply, lower demand and falling prices anybody? Creating obstacles for foreign suppliers of cheaper products in order to protect your domestic steelmakers is not necessarily a good idea in a globalised economy where the likely result will be a simple case of shooting yourself in the foot (see page 6).

09/10/2019 12:27:15

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4 Quote of the Month: “While globalisation has cut through the borders, it has also led to an intertwining of entire economies, making each dependable on the other. In short, if you try to hurt a supplying country, you also, eventually, end up hurting yourself.” Manik Mehta, USA Update • World crude steel production for the 64 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (worldsteel) was 156Mt in August 2019, an increase of 3.4% compared to August 2018. Source: worldsteel, 26 September 2019. • Japanese steelmaker JFE Steel Corporation has decided to revamp its number four blast furnace of the company’s West Japan Works (Kurashiki). According to the company, ‘the blowin is scheduled for the second half of the fiscal year beginning April 2021. Source: JFE, 30 September 2019.

NEWS ROUND-UP • Big River Steel of Osceloa, Arkansas, USA (BRS) has announced that it has entered into an agreement with the United States Steel Corporation (US Steel) in which Big River will receive $700 million in cash in return for a minority ownership in its scrap recycling and steel production company. The two companies will form a joint venture under which US Steel will hold a 49.9% ownership interest and hold an option to acquire the remaining 50.1%. Big River Steel’s original owners will also hold certain options related to the future ownership make-up of BRS should US Steel choose not to exercise its option. Source: Big River Steel, 2 October 2019.

• Russian steelmaker NLMK’s Lipetsk site has started hot testing at its new furnace for preheating slabs prior to rolling at its Mill 2000. It is claimed that the new furnace will increase the company’s hot-rolled steel output by 110kt, reduce energy consumption by 50%, halve air emissions and boost furnace productivity by 23% to 320 tonnes/hr. Source: NLMK, 2 October 2019.

• Annual production of steel ingots in Iran is predicted to reach 28Mt in the current Iranian calendar year, says Khodadad Gharibpour, head of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation (IMIDRO). Mr Gharibpour was speaking at the annual general assembly of the Iranian Steel Producers Association. Source: Tehran Times, 2 October 2019.

• South Korean steelmaker POSCO has announced cumulative crude steel production of 1 billion tonnes. The figure represents the amount of steel produced since 1973 when the company produced its first iron. “We are now a leading company in the world’s steel industry,” the company claims. Source: The Korea Times, 3 October 2019.

• James “Skip” Herald has been appointed a director of the American Iron and Steel Institute. “Skip Herald has had an impressive career, and I am excited to welcome him to the AISI Board of Directors,” said AISI chairman and AK Steel CEO, Roger Newport. Source: AISI, 3 October 2019.

• Indian steelmaker Tata Steel is weighing up the pros and cons of selling its 50% stake in mjunction Services, an e-commerce joint venture for selling commodities ranging from steel, diamonds, grain and tea. The company is seeking a valuation of around 14 billion rupees ($197 million). Source: Bloomberg, 3 October 2019. • German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp has broken ground on the construction of a camshaft plant in Pécs, in Hungary’s south western region. The plant will create 200 jobs and will cost 17.4 billion forints (EUR 43.8 million). The plant will commence operation in 2020, according to Hungary’s Innovation and Technology Minister László Palkovics at the groundbreaking ceremony. Source: Hungary, 3 October 2019.

October 2019

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NEWS ROUND-UP AND FACTS • The Athos Project is just one way that Tata Steel plans to reduce emissions. The company has joined forces with three Dutch companies – Gasunie, EBN and Port of Amsterdam – and has confirmed in a new report that there are sufficient opportunities for capturing, storing and reusing CO2 in the North Sea Canal area, home of the steelmaker’s Ijmuiden integrated steel mill. Source: Tata Steel Europe, 3 October 2019.


• Marubeni Corporation has acquired the assets of Auto Electric & Carburetor Company and Poppe Automotive Warehouse Inc. The former has five locations in Alabama and one in Florida while the latter is claimed to be ‘a reliable supplier of automotive aftermarket parts

for over 40 years’. Poppe has six locations in San Antonio, Texas. Source: Marubeni, 4 October 2019.

• Mitsubishi-Hitachi Metals Machinery is to acquire Siemens’ 49% stake in

Primetals Technologies for an undisclosed amount. The two companies created Primetals Technologies in 2014. The deal will be completed early next year.


• Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC) and Nippon Steel Nisshin (NSN) will push ahead with a planned merger of the two companies. NSC will be the surviving company and NSN will be the absorbed company. The merger comes into effect on 1 April 2020. Source: Nippon Steel Corporation, 3 October 2019.

• Seventy four workers were killed between 2014 and 2017 in coke plant accidents throughout India, according to the Indian Ministry of Steel. In the USA there have been 16 fatal coke plant accidents over the past 30 years. Source: Indian Ministry of Steel/OSHA. • The automotive industry remains a critical market for many steelmakers, consuming around 12% of steel produced. Source: Deloitte.


17-19 Automation & Information Technology in Steel & Mining Industries Organised by Computer Society of India (CSI) This event is described as a biennial forum for research professionals, engineering consultants, technology and equipment suppliers working in process control, IT and computerisation. Further information, log on to 28-30 Ironmasters 2020 – European DRI and Alternative Ironmaking Conference Location: Schonbrunn Palace, Apothekertrakt, Vienna A conference that brings together decision-makers, technological, trade and economic experts in the area of direct reduced iron (DRI). Further details, log on to: November 05-07 MetCoke World Summit 2019 Location: DoubleTree by Hilton, Nashville, USA Organised by Smithers Apex An industry-leading conference for the coke, coal and steel industry. For further information, log on to

• Coal currently accounts for over 75% of the final energy used in the steel industry worldwide (more than 10% of global coal production). Source: Better Coal

• The use of high strength steels in electric vehicles may be even more crucial for lightweighting in order to offset the weight of the battery pack. Press hardened steels will almost certainly be used in the battery cage, to protect the battery from damage. Source: IMOA. • For every job created in the steel industry, 7.1 indirect jobs are created. The steel industry is the source of employment for 42 million people. Source: worldsteel.

11-13 Africa Wire, Cable & Tube Location: Emperor's Place, Johannesburg, South Africa Organised by CRU. Billed as 'a high-calibre' conference bringing together local suppliers and international experts to discuss future joint investment and ventures. For further information, log on to www. africawirecabletubeconference. com 4th Metal Additive Manufacturing Conference Location: Orebro Castle, Sweden Organised by: Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials (ASMET) A highly respected conference covering a variety of topics including powder for metal additive manufacturing and systems. For further information, log on to

October 2019

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It’s not all Hunky-Dory in the USA

Despite 25% tariffs on steel imports into the US, which had been slapped on countries dumping steel in the American market, things are not that rosy for US steel companies, argues Manik Mehta*

THINGS aren’t THAT good for US steelmakers? Well, take US Steel as a case in point: the company has been preparing its investors for tough times ahead, warning that the company’s financial outlook for the July-December half-yearly performance would be affected by declining prices and falling demand. President Donald Trump imposed 25% tariffs under his nationalist-sounding “America First” rhetoric in an attempt to revive the sagging fortunes of the steel industry by curbing cheap steel imports which were blamed for the domestic industry’s misfortunes; the tariffs, however, were not able to sustain the steel industry’s growth trajectory. Doubts are also being expressed over the prudence of using tariffs as a means to provide a growth impetus in the industry. US Steel’s shares have plunged some 15% in an overall trend characterised by a decline. Nucor Corporation, another US steel giant, revised its profit forecast lower than expected; the company’s shares had fallen

18% by September, below the year-earlier level. As the nation gets into election fever, Trump will find it difficult to sell the steel industry’s fate as an alibi for his successful policies. The ongoing trade spat with China is also hurting US steel companies operating abroad. US Steel’s operations in Europe, for example, have been hurt as a result of US restrictions on Chinese steel imports, the company confirmed. Facing hurdles in the US for its steel imports, China has been dumping its steel, meanwhile, in Europe and, in effect, creating a glut in the market. But US Steel’s specialised segment of tubular products, which depends heavily on demand from the oil and gas industry, said that weaker demand and lower prices, exacerbated by rising imports from nonAmerican steel companies, had forced the company to revise downwards its annual shipment forecast for that product segment. The initial euphoria following the 25%

tariff imposed under Section 232 on Chinese steel in March 2018 would appear to be short-lived. Indeed, US Steel is now planning to retrench some 2,500 of its European workers by 2021, it has also closed down its blast furnaces and laid off workers at its Michigan and Indiana facilities. Rising unemployment Some US states that form the steel heartland face the bleak prospect of rising unemployment and with it falling

* USA correspondent October 2019

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consumption that is a strong driver of economic growth. After recording strong growth in 2018, Northwest Indiana’s economy is staring at an uncertain future. ArcelorMittal’s example illustrates how that steel giant reaped an incredible $5.1 billion profit in 2018; indeed, ArcelorMittal USA has enjoyed an incredibly successful run since 2007. US Steel had tripled its annual profit to $ 1.1 billion, its best result since 2008. Things are different for the two steel companies today. Steelmakers depend heavily on demand from the steel-consuming industries such as automotive and construction. The automotive business is passing through difficult times. Growth has also slowed down in non-residential construction, another big end user of steel products. This is also due to the fact that an infrastructure programme put together by the US Congress and the last two administrations is “lying frozen”, as some steel experts call it. Meanwhile, prices of iron ore and other materials have surged upward along with steel prices. The service sector has been weak in buying steel, with economists even uttering the dreaded “R word” – recession, to be sure. Steelmakers are also nervously watching the workers’ strike at General Motors, a major steel-consuming industry. There is delicious irony in the fact that while Section 232 tariffs were imposed to curb cheap steel imports and thus prop up domestic steel prices and profits of steel companies, the steel prices today are lower than in March 2018 when tariffs were imposed.

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US Steel, according to steel industry sources, has allocated $2 billion to carry out long overdue modernisation of its aging facilities, including $750 million at its Gary Works. The company needs a new hot strip mill while its blast furnaces are also old. Over recent months, the industry’s mood has been dampened and marks a sharp contrast with the sentiments of last year when optimism prevailed and some steel executives, notably Nucor Corporation’s John Ferriola, loudly proclaimed that it was the “best time to make steel in the United States”.

The situation has changed dramatically now – from booming profits and resumption of operations in steel plants in 2018 to lower demand, falling prices and tumbling profits in 2019. The US steel industry faces oversupply, lower demand and falling prices, which affect the profitability of steelmaking plants – Nucor, SDI and US Steel have been warning that falling prices are expected to squeeze their third quarter earnings compared to the yearearlier period. This also contrasts sharply with remarks made by steel executives at events last year, including the New York Steel Success Strategies 2018 conference when they were mouthing optimism and confidence after Trump’s introduction of tariffs.


The continuing US-China trade war has hit US manufacturing. Economic growth has slowed down and companies are taking a wait-and-watch approach on hiring new workers. One conspicuous anomaly is that declining imports, attributed to tariffs, have not helped prop up prices or sustain the domestic boom for long. What many in the US fail to understand – and this is particularly true of some politicians – is that we live in a globalised world. Huge global supply chains have been created to address specific demands. While globalisation has cut through the borders, it has also led to an intertwining of entire economies, making each dependable on the other. In short, if you try to hurt a supplying country, you also, eventually, end up hurting yourself. Shooting yourself in the foot? Quite so. If you try to create obstacles for foreign suppliers of cheaper products in order to protect your domestic steelmakers, you also hurt the steel-consuming sectors who will be forced to buy – the more expensive – locally-produced steel and, in the bargain, will raise their prices which are passed on to the average consumer. The end result: demand slackens and there is pressure on prices. Steel-manufacturing companies made the miscalculation, in the wake of last year’s post-tariff boom, by hastily boosting their production, but falling demand from industrial customers has hurt the prospect of increased output and their profitability. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell recently acknowledged that business investments and exports have weakened amid falling manufacturing output. In his view, the main reasons appeared to be slower growth abroad and trade policy developments – two sources of uncertainty that were monitored by the Fed. Indeed, the macroeconomic outlook does not appear very bright for steelmakers in 2019, as some analysts are saying; this may be due, partly, to ongoing trade friction and the resulting global uncertainty. The coming weeks will provide some interesting pointers for the future. � October 2019

09/10/2019 10:00:34


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Steel’s role in future mobility How consumers are shaping steel’s role in the vision of mobility. By Dr. Andrew Zoryk*

AMIDST the continued global economic turmoil experienced by steel producers during recent years – driven by global overcapacity, regulatory challenges and more recently tariffs – the automotive industry remains a critical market for many steelmakers, consuming around 12% of steel produced, with an average of 900kg of steel contained within each of the more than 97 million cars produced globally in 2017. The automotive sector continues to play a key role in shaping the market pressures experienced by steel suppliers. Recent declining car sales in the Chinese market, for example, has resulted in automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) operating their plants at levels significantly lower than their potential output. Similar declines in other key markets such as Europe are compounding the problem. Additionally, the automotive industry itself is facing further dimensions of disruption with knock-on impacts for all participants in the automotive value chain. The speed of these impacts is also changing, driven by

social change, technology advancement, as well as environmental trends and political developments. Consumers are evaluating the new world of vehicle technologies and are deciding if they are willing to pay for them. It remains unclear, however, how close we are to the utopian vision of future mobility systems and the role that automotive technologies will play, which puts OEMs in the difficult position of needing to invest in expensive R&D programmes with few guarantees of a return on investment. Clearly, one of the key driving influences for the future of the automotive industry is consumer preference and behaviour driven, for example, by changes in urbanisation and the future of work. For the past 10 years, the Global Automotive Consumer Study by Deloitte has surveyed consumers around the world to identify trends in the automotive industry across countries and generations. The studies have shown how consumer thinking has changed over the past decade. Already in 2009, vehicle safety ranked as the top

priority for consumers, by 2012 interest in hybrids driven by cost and convenience lead the way, and in 2017 interest in autonomy was growing together with a need for a track record in safety. The latest 2019 study is based on more than 25,000 consumer responses across 20 global markets. The findings provide important insights for steelmakers (as well as automotive companies) as they think about how the market for automotive steels may develop during the next years and the likely consequences such developments will have on steel’s role in future mobility. Key findings of the study include: • Consumer trust in autonomous vehicles (AVs) appears to be stalling. In the United States, 50% of survey respondents do not believe AVs will be safe – nearly the same as last year’s 47% but drastically different from 2017, when 74% voiced safety concerns. Consumer confidence in AV safety also plateaued in China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Germany. Coupled with this, the survey showed that more than 50% of respondents in Europe said

* Strategy & Operations, Deloitte GmbH 1. World Steel Association, 2. 2019 Global Automotive Consumer Study, Deloitte, 3. Statista, “Number of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in use worldwide from 2006 to 2015 in (1,000 units),” 2018. 4.

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that reports of accidents involving AVs had a significant impact on their view of the technology. • Electric vehicles (EVs) have captured worldwide consumer interest. While 29% of US survey respondents would prefer a hybrid, battery, or another alternative to traditional drive-trains for their next vehicle – up from 20% last year – low fuel prices, relaxed emissions standards, and fewer rebates could dampen US EV adoption. Comparably, interest in EVs is strong in Asia, with China in the lead, where 65% of people surveyed would prefer an alternative powertrain in their next vehicle, followed by Japan (59%). Consumers in many countries remain concerned about battery electric vehicle range, charging time, and safety. As a result, people are looking to hybrid electric vehicles as the interim answer. Interest in HEVs in Japan, for instance, grew from 38% of consumers in 2018 to 46% this year. • Consumers also want strong regulation for new technology. As consumers look to the automotive future, they may not always associate emerging technology with traditional car manufacturers. In the United States, the number of surveyed consumers who said they trust traditional OEMs to bring AV technology to market continues to fall, from 47% in 2018 to 39% in 2019. Even in Germany, where trust in OEMs has traditionally been quite stable, this proportion has dropped rapidly from 51% in 2017 to 33% in 2019 – likely in part as a consequence of the recent “dieselgate” scandal. With an ongoing lack of trust in the private sector, consumers are looking to governments to increase regulation. An overwhelming percentage of consumers October 2019

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in most countries indicated they wanted “significant oversight,” including 56% of US consumers. So, what are some of the implications of these finding for steelmakers involved in the automotive steels sector? Adoption of electric vehicles will likely play out differently depending upon regional differences. In China, stronger policies are being introduced to address domestic pollution concerns and to reduce dependence on foreign oil, which may encourage faster EV adoption. European countries including Norway, Britain, France, and the Netherlands, have announced plans to ban the sale of conventional gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles over the next two or three decades – the share of diesel in the European Union has been falling already. While both regions may be poised for increased EV adoption, change will not be

immediate. With an estimated 1.2 billion traditional fossil-fueled vehicles currently on the road, that have a life expectancy of more than 10 years, such traditional vehicles will dominate for some time to come. This effect will be further reinforced through the continued use of more advanced, high quality steels that have the potential to extend the useful service life of vehicles. The recent survey continues to highlight safety concerns as a key issue. An ongoing challenge for steelmakers is how to marry the requirements for material strength with those for formability and thus provide OEMs with greater options towards lightweighting of vehicles. Combining strength and formability to allow a steel structure to absorb the energy of a crash by wrinkling, requires steels with multi-phase microstructures, as found in the latest advanced and ultra high strength steels (AHSS/UHSS). Furthermore, OEMs require that such UHSS can be easily formed into the sometimes complex shapes needed in modern design vehicles. It is clear that consumer concerns around safety mean that the usage of AHSS and UHSS steels in vehicles is not likely to decline any time soon. Having said this, steelmakers must continue to invest in developing new lighter, stronger steels with the needed mechanical properties that allow OEMs to develop strategic options for vehicles of the future. In addition to the lightweight aspects of steel development, the trend towards electrification of vehicles will also influence other niche steel segments such as nongrain orientated electrical steels. Non-grain oriented electrical steel is widely used in the motors of automotive and hybrid vehicles owing to their multi-directional magnetic properties – a purely electric vehicle is expected to use 40-100kg of such material. On top of this, an increase in the trend from hybrid vehicles to battery powered electric vehicles will accelerate an even greater emphasis on the future investments needed in AHSS/UHSS steel performance characteristics, as additional issues such as fire risks need to be factored into design. The trends being set by automotive OEMs have broader strategic consequences for steelmakers. From a core strategic viewpoint, steelmakers need to consider questions such as: • Can we expect sufficient growth and profitability in our current automotive

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product portfolio – which parts are likely to become obsolete or commoditised in the future? • Should we diversify into new products with higher automotive relevance and attractive profits? • What will be the impact of reduced steel intensity in automotive due to lightweighting on demand volumes and production facilities? • What impact does this have on needed investments in our manufacturing footprint? • How do we manage future scenarios around value-based pricing of our products, where weight (steel intensity) is no longer the dominant factor? Already today, the production of high quality automotive steels is complicated, often with significant challenges in achieving first-pass quality and high prime material yields. The foreseen changes in car design will significantly influence and further challenge steel producers (as well as others in the value chain) to think more holistically around design and

their role in advising other value chain partners. For example, understanding how new combinations of different materials with new shapes and properties can be joined, glued and welded as part of an overall design. This implies a continued evolution of both internal focused and external facing strategies. Internally, a greater focus on manufacturing excellence, where new digital technology (such as advanced analytics, IoT and artificial intelligence) can help drive the


incremental manufacturing performance and product quality improvements needed to be considered a reliable supplier in an increasingly competitive market. From an external perspective, steel providers need to continue strategic investments in providing relevant value-added services and co-development. Here again, companies need to consider how “digitalisation” can be used as a lever to accelerate data and knowledge exchange and to improve collaborative processes. The future needs to be centred around end-to-end coengineering between steel producers and other players in the steel value chain. Consumers will continue to play an important future role in shaping the demand for steel in the automotive sector. The current visions of integrated mobility and transportation will evolve over time based on changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour. As part of this transition, automotive OEMs and in turn steel suppliers will play a key role. Understanding and knowledge of these trends will help steel producers prioritise and better position their business strategies and investments. �

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The Volvo S60

The impact of AHSS on car making As auto manufacturers continue the drive for safer and lighter materials in vehicle production, the benefits of molybdenum have an increasing role to play. By Professor Hardy Mohrbacher* SINCE the first car rolled off the production line in the early part of the last century, the most established material in body construction has been steel. Steel’s dominant position continued for almost a century until the 1990s, when it began to be challenged by low-density materials such as aluminium, magnesium and even plastics, either for the entire body construction or specific, individual components. The emerging rivalry with low-density materials motivated the steel industry to develop new steel grades, capable of competing in the race for lighter, betterperforming and cost- effective body structures. These new structures would prove to be inherently safer. A quick inspection of the older, now ‘classic’, vehicles of previous decades, invites a comparison with the vehicles of today. Even to the untrained eye, the difference is palpable. Lighter, longer-lasting, safer and infinitely more environmentally-friendly would sum up the modern vehicle in comparison to its predecessors. While the path to the development of the modern vehicles of today has not been easy, close liaison between steel and car manufacturers has achieved significant results and

improvements since the gauntlet was first thrown down. Today’s vehicles – how we got there The protection of passengers is key in the development of today’s motor vehicles. This protection, coupled with the need to keep the vehicle’s weight to a minimum requires materials of construction that have both high strength and toughness, but are also light and flexible. Press-hardened steel (PHS) provides these properties and has, therefore, become the staple of the modern auto body crash structure. As manufacturers continue the drive for safer and lighter materials in vehicle production, the benefits of molybdenum have an increasing role to play in these exciting developments. Refining safety and efficiency with the help of molybdenum The journey to today’s safety standard of vehicles has been a long and bumpy one. During the first 15 years of press-hardened technology, the major focus of development was on the efficiency of the process. In recent years, the focus has shifted, and material improvement is increasingly important. The original press-hardened steel, known as grade 22MnB5 was not specifically

designed for use in automobile bodies, but could reach a tensile strength of 1500MPa. However, for cars, impact resistance, represented by the property called ‘toughness’ is extremely relevant. The higher the toughness, the more energy can be absorbed in a crash before failure. The Swedish car maker, Saab, used the first press-hardened components to reinforce the doors of its 9000 model, but the process was slow because of the need for complex, costly and less productive equipment than conventional stamping. Press hardening saw only limited use, but in 2004 there was a significant breakthrough when Volkswagen achieved major improvements in process efficiency and deployed seven press-hardened components in its high volume and popular Passat model. Press hardening technology then progressed quickly and today almost all vehicles contain press-hardened parts. However, it was only five years ago, in 2014, that Volvo took the technology to an unprecedented level in its second generation XC90 SUV. Almost 40% of the car’s body structure is made from press-hardened steel, creating a virtually indestructible safety cage to protect the passengers inside. As manufacturers are moving towards increasing the tensile strength of press-

* Specialist in materials and mechanical engineering October 2019

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hardened steel towards 2000 MPa, in order to further reduce its weight, the interaction between strength and toughness has taken on even greater importance. It’s been clearly established through projects supported by the International Molybdenum Association (IMOA) that molybdenum additions to such steels can provide a marked improvement in the combination of strength and toughness. Molybdenum acts as a form of ‘glue’ between the microstructural features within the steel, holding them together under extreme loads. It also helps reduce the deleterious effect of hydrogen, known as hydrogen embrittlement, by limiting its mobility within the material. Already, effective use is being made of molybdenum, thanks to newly-developed press hardening techniques. The first commercially available 2000 MPa presshardened steel contains 0.15 to 0.20% molybdenum, while a recently developed 1500 MPa grade containing molybdenum is being used for thicker sections for heavy truck components. The addition of molybdenum significantly boosts the steel’s hardenability, permitting improved hardening of thicker sections. Contributing to sustainability Transportation by road vehicles significantly contributes to global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. With an increasing number of vehicles on the roads across the globe, regulators are imposing ever-more stringent limits on primary energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2015, car manufacturers in the EU have been penalised for exceeding an average CO2 emission of 130 g/km across their new car fleet and this limit will be reduced to 95 g/km by 2021.

IMOA automotive.indd 2

Reducing vehicle weight is one means of lowering fuel consumption and will become an increasing priority as emission limits decrease. Field tests have indicated that fuel savings range from 0.1 to 0.5 litres per hundred kilometres for a weight reduction of 100 kilograms. This corresponds to CO2 emission reduction of eight to 12 grams per kilometre. Lightweighting has, therefore, been vigorously pursued over the years as a solution to meet decreasing emission targets in parallel with other initiatives. The conflicting demands of lighter, bigger and safer vehicles can only be satisfied by using materials that have either higher strength and/or lower density. Molybdenum alloying plays a crucial role when making advanced high strength automotive sheet steels. Its specific metallurgical effects allow the formation of hard phases that have exceptionally high strength. The mixture of hard and soft phases in the steel matrix provides the desired combination of high strength and good formability and toughness, while allowing for significant weight reduction, fuel savings and, therefore, lower CO2 emissions. • Less steel is produced, saving resources and reducing pollution • Molybdenum-alloyed steel can be recycled to a significant degree • Vehicle components made from stronger steel with high energy absorption provide improved safety in collisions • High-strength steel has a better total life cycle carbon footprint than low-density materials • Vehicle construction using highstrength steel is significantly less expensive than using low-density materials • High-strength steel readily uses

existing manufacturing technology and is globally available – new investments and long-distance material shipments are avoided • Lighter cars have more efficient braking and better handling Growing demand for electric vehicles As the importance of sustainability in our modern world continues to grow, the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is set to increase. The use of high strength steels in EVs may be even more crucial for lightweighting, to offset the weight of the battery pack and press hardened steels will almost certainly be used in the battery cage, to protect the battery from damage. Yet another consideration for EVs is the need to strengthen the front end against collision impact, to compensate for the absence of an engine block. Heavy-gauge press hardened steel is being considered as a potential solution. A future containing molybdenum Of course, there is still much to learn of the benefits of molybdenum addition on the properties of steel. IMOA continues to play a key role in identifying these effects in steel and in using this knowledge to develop improved alloy solutions. The resulting increase in the understanding of how molybdenum benefits its key users will undoubtedly widen its appeal. Press-hardened steel in modern day cars and trucks is just one example of an application which demonstrates that molybdenum can significantly improve existing steel grades. And as demand for ever-lighter and safer cars continues to grow, the demand for molybdenum will increase too. � October 2019

09/10/2019 10:13:24



The domestic agenda This year’s Brazilian Steel Institute conference in Brasilia, focused on domestic issues and was addressed by ‘the Brazilian Trump’ Jair Bolsonaro, who blamed the Amazon rainforest fires on non-governmental organisations, but failed to present any evidence to prove his case. By Germano Mendes de Paula*

AÇO Brasil (or the Brazilian Steel Institute) organised its annual conference in late August in Brasília. Roughly 500 delegates attended the event, which was the highest attendance over the last five years. President Jair Bolsonaro, who took over in January 2019, delivered a speech. His presence demonstrated the political clout of Brazil’s steel industry. Bolsonaro, Brazil’s answer to Donald Trump, or so it is claimed, said that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were behind the Amazon forest fire surge, but provided no supporting evidence. He suggested that the fires were started by environmental groups to embarrass his government, a claim that fired up the mass media both at home and abroad and left the specialised steel media to cover the steel business issues discussed by the conference. More importantly, the country’s steel sector is experiencing a new situation and that is dealing with a very liberal government. While Bolsonaro is a far right politician, his economic team wants to privatise, de-regulate, reduce import tariffs and reduce State presence in the economy, so while the leader is branded ‘far right’ the Government can be viewed, in terms of Adam Smith’s ideas, as very ‘liberal’. The governmental perspective Besides President Bolsonaro, other senior government officials delivered presentations at the conference. Minister

Onyx Lorenzoni, who is Minister Chief of the Staff of the Presidency, talked about the main changes carried out by the new administration. Initially, he stressed what the Bolsonaro Government had inherited from the previous administration: � High bureaucracy: over 60,000 normative acts; � High tax burden: 35% of the country’s GDP: � Low competitiveness: 80th place in the ‘Global Competitiveness’ and 125th place in the ‘Doing Business’ reports; � Low human development index (HDI): 79th position in the world; � Low education performance: 63rd place (among 70 countries) in the OECD Ranking of Education Excellence (Programme for International Student Assessment/PISA); � Large unemployment: 13 million people. Minister Lorenzoni also highlighted the oversized government, comprised of 29 ministries, 134 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), over 800 advice committees and 131,000 gratified functions paid. In addition, Brazil appears in 153rd place in the economic freedom ranking and 102nd in expression freedom ranking.

Bolsonaro’s administration wants to be remembered as an anti-State government. Mr Lorenzoni mentioned that the government’s fundamental objectives are: simplification, reduction of the role of State, cutting red tape and fostering partnerships with producers and entrepreneurs. “We want a government that comes out of the neck of the Brazilian citizens,” he said. The minister also declared that the government has already cut 21,000 federal government jobs in an effort to reduce the number of public officials, and will work to diminish an additional 25,000 by the end of 2019. He highlighted an “abolishing pool”, a set of revocation of decrees by government aimed at shrinking bureaucracy. The tax diminution for selected products was also mentioned, but it hasn’t had any impact on aggregate tax burden yet. The Congress has been addressing a pension reform, which is considered the most important economic problem faced by the nation. On the international agenda, the European Union and Mercosur

* Professor in Economics, Federal University of Uberlândia, Brazil. E-mail: October 2019

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Global structural HRC cost curve1 - Q4 2016 Ex works, USD/t


Others China

S America CIS



West Europe

C90/C102 = 1,21







400 300



300 200




0 0










Capital, logistic and cross subsidy costs

Cumulative taxes

Uncredited VAT HRC cost


Cumulative capacity million metric ton

Fig 1. Global hot rolled coil cost curve, 2016 Q4 ($/t). Source:McKinsey quoted by Ferres

Fig 2. Brazil and China’s hot rolled coil total costs, 2016Q4 ($/t). Source: McKinsey and


Ferres Consulting

reached a treaty in principle for a free trade agreement. The Bolsonaro government had already obtained R$ 46.7 billion ($11.4 billion) from privatisations and R$ 7.7 billion (or $1.9 billion) in concessions from airports, harbours and railways, said Lorenzoni. He cited other governmental policies designed to generate business opportunities for the steel industry, such as the ‘intense publicprivate partnership programme in various areas,’ including infrastructure and energy. Bento Albuquerque, Minister of Mines and Energy, cited opportunities in the oil and gas sector, claiming that there will be many prospects for the steel industry and other sectors to meet the demand being created through the concession, production sharing and costly assignment agreements already signed with several oil operators. He said that only investments in the oil production sharing blocks and concession rounds would generate R$450 billion (or $110 billion) in contracts. Minister Albuquerque stated that the government has adopted measures aimed at ‘unlocking bottlenecks’ to ensure the supply of electricity and natural gas, effectively reducing the costs of these key inputs for the industry. Moreover, the resumption of the iron ore supply, inhibited from the tailings dam rupture in Vale’s Brumadinho mine, is receiving the full attention of the federal government. Dr. Marcos Troyjo, Deputy Minister of the Economy, in charge of foreign trade and international affairs, commented that the government’s challenge was to insert Brazil into the global economy. He said that the government wants to move the country from being ‘hidden from the world’ to a situation similar to other nations that took steps decades ago to become protagonists in the global market. In this respect, he

Brazilian conference.indd 2

cited Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Japan, China and others. According to Dr. Troyjo, foreign trade was the driving force for economic growth and development in these countries and he wants the same for Brazil. Dr. Troyjo commented that the government has its convictions. One is the

fight against the massive bureaucratic, short-term vision and isolationist culture. The government is attacking these issues by addressing pension and tax reforms and the downsizing of the State among other measures. That said, the government is not going to treat complex features of this nature only as a synonym for the occasional drop in import tariffs. It intends to look at the whole picture in order to avoid the trap of “short-sightedness” and escape the notion that Brazil is a kind of ‘island’ separated from the global stage. He announced that in the coming days Brazil would sign trade agreements with non-Eurozone nations such as South Korea, Canada, Mexico and Singapore, as well as treaties with the USA and Japan and this, he said, represents more business opportunities for the national industry. Dr. Troyjo sounded positive when discussing the expected growth in demand for steel from countries close to China, which are undergoing an accelerated process of industrialisation and infrastructure investment. He said that Brazilian agribusiness and mining will also benefit.

Taking all governmental speeches together, they emphasised the need to transform the Brazilian economy, by employing a liberal approach, rather than emphasising the specific business opportunities open to Brazilian steelmakers. The industry’s reaction The new Brazilian government wants to make structural changes to the economy, mainly via new legislation on pensions, tax and public administration, but also through an international trade opening. The latter will be implemented by reducing import tariffs, even without concessions from foreign partners. The plan follows orthodox economic textbooks: the Brazilian trade closure has a deleterious effect by reducing the strength of competition between firms and thus allowing capital and human resources to remain in inefficient firms, while average productivity would be higher if they (capital and human resources) were reallocated to better firms. The manufacturing companies, as expected, have demonstrated strong opposition to the plan, by underscoring that competitive asymmetries should be addressed before the economic opening. Juan Ferres, founder of Ferres Consulting, analysed the possible impacts of the import tariff reduction on the Brazilian steel industry. Primarily, he stated that the current government diagnosis is that it has created a vicious cycle: “Trade protection would have generated an inefficient manufacturing industry, which is sustained through increasing protectionism and cumulative productive isolation”. Ferres observed that Brazil has applied relatively high import tariffs, in comparison with other countries. In addition, the country has imposed a large number of anti-dumping rights against foreign October 2019

09/10/2019 11:17:22



30.000 25.000

15 years 24.387





Aluminium Steel

Fig 3. Brazilian steel domestic sales, 2013-2028 (kt). Source: Brazilian Steel Institute












0 2018

Cement 2017

5.000 2016














Fig 4. Global production of steel and other commodities, 2016 (Mt). Source: worldsteel, USGS, OECD, BP, FAOUN

products. In the same direction, the anti-dumping and safeguards have been focused on sectors characterised by high market concentration. Moreover, exports and imports as a proportion of GDP in Brazil are among the lowest values in the world. These factors combined for a conclusion that there is a need for a ‘competitiveness shock’. Ferres agrees with the diagnosis of new government for the economy as a whole. Nevertheless, for the mentioned proposed remedy to achieve its objective, three premises are required: a) the industry is less efficient than its international peers; b) the inefficiency is manageable by entrepreneurs; c) the openness would impose competitive pressure and allow the most efficient to integrate into the international market. Nonetheless, Ferres argued that these three assumptions are not true for the Brazilian steel industry. First, the Brazilian steel industry is efficient in terms of steel production. Fig. 1 shows that South America (in which Brazil is the key player, plotted in orange) is among the lowest cost curve positions for hot rolled coil (HRC) in 2016 Q4, according to McKinsey data. Second, what undermines the Brazilian steel industry’s competitiveness is the embedded State October 2019

Brazilian conference.indd 3

costs. Fig.2 demonstrates that Brazilian HRC costs are $350/t; while the cumulative taxes reach $40/t; the uncredited Value Added Tax (VAT) is $34/t; the capital, logistic and cross-subsidy costs achieve US$ 5/t; totalling $480/t. Thus, there is a 16.3% burden linked to the embedded State costs. Meanwhile, for China, the HRC costs are $420/t, whereas the total costs are equivalent to $458/t. Summing up, the competitive disadvantage of the Brazilian steel sector is mainly generated outside of the industry’s boundaries. Third, due to the extreme importance of commercial defence measures within the global steel industry, there is very limited market access. In other words, trade policies distort the market. Ferres analysed the effective protection too. The exercise was divided into two parts. First, China’s steel price was used as an initial reference (100 as basis). Then freights, harbour costs, import tariffs, antidumping rights, and all other internalisation costs were added, resulting in an effective protection of 18.4%. When the subsidies earned by the Chinese steelmakers were taken into consideration, the effective protection was reduced to 7.9%. The second part of the effective protection calculus paid attention to governmental costs and inefficiencies

abroad, achieving a 91.6 (in comparison with 100 for the China steel price), whereas the Chinese steel export price is 88.5. Ferres concluded that there was a gap of only 2.3%. Thus, from a business perspective, it means selling at a price lower than China and marginally higher than Chinese export prices. Of the initial industry protection level (18.4%), roughly 90% stems for State costs. Subsequently, only a slight difference is the manageable portion for the steel industry per se. Feres recommended three measures for the short-term period. First, the implementation of tax restructuring: this does not demand a broad tax reform (which requires a Constitutional amendment), but solely the removal of fees, tariffs and contributions on VAT. He also suggested the application of tax credits on 100% of corporate purchases. Second, the creation of a compensation mechanism for exporting companies: financial reimbursement on exports of costs such as royalties and fees. Third, investment exemptions and the correction of price distortions: commercial opening of the entire value chain should be synchronised with the above measures. Ferres advocates, therefore, that the commercial opening should be adopted after other measures to mitigate the competitive asymmetries that faced Brazilian manufacturing firms (including, of course, the steelmakers). Marco Polo de Mello Lopes, the Brazilian Steel Institute’s CEO, made a short speech. He observed that, under relatively optimistic assumptions (a 2.5% GDP growth from 2020 onwards), only in 2028, will domestic sales achieve the previous peak registered in 2013 (Fig.3). Therefore, it will only require a 15-year period to recover the lost market derived from the tough recession. Even in

09/10/2019 11:17:26

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NAFTA Asia (excl. China) Central & South Americas Oceania + MENA Source: Aço Brasil, based on data from the OECD and the World Steel Association

Capacity: 2.235Mt Consumption*: 1.840Mt

*Steel consumption crude steel equivalent

Fig 5. Steel overcapacity by region, 2018 (Mt). Source: Brazilian steel Institute

this context, the Brazilian steel industry is planning to invest $9billion over the next five years. Mello Lopes declared that the Brazilian steel industry is currently operating at 67% of installed capacity. In order to reach 85%, which is a parameter for good profitability, it will need to amplify its production by 9.3Mt. In this case, an additional 195,000 jobs would be created considering the direct and indirect effects and 302,000 jobs taking into account the induced effects, totalling 497,000 jobs combined. Global view André B. Gerdau Johannpeter, chairman of worldsteel and vice-chairman of Gerdau, discussed the situation and prospects of the global steel sector. He stated initially that steel, taking into account its complexity and variety, continues to be one of the most used products in the world after coal, cement, oil and timber (Fig.4). More significantly, according to a report elaborated by Oxford Economics, the steel industry is transforming iron ore, coal and scrap into a range of products that sold October 2019

Brazilian conference.indd 4

for a total annual value of $2.5tn in 2017. The value added element of its production processes was almost $500billion and it employed more than six million people around the world. By ‘value added’, we mean the difference between the sale price and the production cost of a product. In addition, for every two jobs in the steel sector, 13 more jobs are supported throughout its supply chain. In total, some 40 million people work within the steel industry’s global supply chain, generating over $1.2tn of value added. The steel industry facilitated a further $1.2tn of value-added output in 2017, and supported an additional 49 million jobs in steel using sectors around the world. Surprisingly positive performance Gerdau Johannpeter showed the demand forecast for 2019 and 2020, according to worldsteel’s Short-Range Outlook (SRO) (released in April 2019), but recognised that the data would be changed in October 2019 due to the surprisingly positive performance of China. While the original forecast was roughly a 1% improvement

this year to the Asian giant, the actual outcome is closer to 10%. Regardless of actual demand growth in 2019, in which global steel demand continues to expand amid elevated uncertainties, the world steel industry is moving towards a low growth zone. Johannpeter stressed four key challenges for the sector: a) deceleration of population growth and ageing population in developed economies; b) rising income inequality threatening growth and middle class base; c) environmental concerns affecting manufacturing base; d) spreading circular economy concept and its impact on steel demand. Overcapacity, estimated currently at approximately 400Mt, is one of the crucial concerns of the global steel industry. Indeed, whereas the global nominal capacity totalled 2.2Mt of crude steel, consumption reaches 1.8Mt of crude steel equivalent (Fig.5). Not surprisingly, worldsteel is evaluating measures to address this situation with the G-20. Another theme discussed by Gerdau Johannpeter was the environment, in general, and the sector’s contribution to a low carbon future and climate-resilient societies, in particular. Governments, he said, need to recognise and embrace the importance of a strong and healthy industrial base and engage with the industry when developing climate policies. Steel is both CO2- and energy-intensive, but also a highly competitive industry that enables CO2 mitigation in other sectors. Steel’s life cycle does not end because of recycling, so circular economy measures can be a good way to mitigate, as well as new technologies to capture (and even eliminate) CO2. However, inequities introduced by carbon pricing mechanisms could jeopardise fair competition. He also highlighted that a life cycle approach is an important tool for future environmental policy and that governments should promote and encourage it. Progress in the development and implementation of breakthrough technology in steelmaking must be maintained or accelerated requiring the financial burden to be shared. Summing up, the Brazilian steel conference this year was focused on domestic issues, mainly due to a combination of poor domestic market performance (with a low recovery speed) and the risk of a commercial opening, under a fairly liberal government. �

09/10/2019 11:17:28

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Low coke rate operation at Kobe Steel Prior to the closure of blast furnace operations at Kobe Works, a 10% lowering of the coke rate was achieved reaching 283kg/tHM. Increasing the use and distribution of self-fluxing dolomite pellets made the greatest contribution, followed by increasing oxygen enrichment of the blast to 4.6% and the amount and calorific value of coal injection. By T Maeda, K Tanaka, N Mitsuoka, H Toyota, A Sato, T Matsuo, Y Matsui

IN 1959, Kobe Steel started operations at Kobe Works as an integrated steel mill. On October 31, 2017 the Kobe No 3 blast furnace was shut down with iron and steelmaking transferred to the Kakogawa Works. Blast furnace production at Kobe had lasted 59 years. A year before the shut-down Kobe No.3BF had achieved a low coke rate of 283kg/t iron by developing technologies while using a high pellet ratio of 80% by mass, in the charge. This article reports on the concept and background at that time. Characteristics of raw materials Kobe Works had no coking plant so coke had to be procured from external suppliers at an increased unit price compared to a steel works with in-house coke production. Accordingly, Kobe Works had an incentive to achieve low coke rate operation in the blast furnace. Furthermore, the sinter line was closed in 1999 with the construction of a power plant. In 2000, the proportion of pellet charged to the furnace was then increased to 73%, with lump ore making up 27%. Kobe was the only site in Japan charging such a high pellet ratio[1]. Selffluxing dolomite pellets produced at the pellet plant at the Kakogawa Works were transported by ship for use at Kobe Works.

all-pellet operation. This paper, is concerned with the increase of the meltdown temperature. Furnace volume and ore meltdown In general, smaller blast furnaces have less height between the tuyeres and the lower end of the belly. This is particularly the case for furnaces with less than 3000m3 of inner volume. This means control of the meltdown property of the ore at high temperature in the furnace periphery is more important for a small blast furnace than a large one. Kobe No 3BF had an inner volume of 2112m3 ie a small furnace. Increased PCI Increased pulverised coal injection (PCI)

Meltdown property of pellets Kobe Steel developed self-fluxed dolomite pellets with excellent high-temperature properties as shown in Fig 3[1,2] and produces them at the Kakogawa Works. Therefore, for the reduction of the coke rate in the all-pellet operation of this study, Fig 1 Concept of coke rate

Coke rate reduction In-furnace

reduction in all-pellet operation

Increase of PCR


Decrease of heat flux ratio

Decrease of heat flux ratio

at lower part

at upper part

Method 1) Increase of ore meltdown

Coke rate reduction with all-pellet charge Fig 1 shows the concept of coke rate reduction in a 100% pellet operation. There are two countermeasures available to change the furnace operation for a lower coke rate; these are: 1) increase of the charge meltdown temperature and 2) control of the heat flux ratio. Both measures were carried out during

changes the solid/gas temperature profile in the lower part of the furnace (Fig 2). Since the temperature around the tuyere falls due to increased coal injection (i) (in Fig 2), to keep the hot metal temperature stable, the temperature must be increased in the lower part of the furnace (ii). It seems that pellets should be melted at a higher temperature to maintain permeability under high temperature conditions.


Method 2) Controlling heat flux ratio

Countermeasures 1. Replacement from lump ore to

3. Reduction of in-furnace gas volume by

self-fluxed dolomite pellets

an increase of oxygen enriching rate

(by Kobe Steel) 4. Reduction of in-furnace gas volume by 2. Use of fine-grained pellets

use of high calorific value coal (low VM)

The authors are with Kobe Steel Ltd with the exception of Y Matsui who is with Kobelco Research Institute, Inc. October 2019

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PCR (kg/t) 3.0

0 150 200 1600

(ii) Temperature of finish to melt (°C)

Height from the tuyere (m)

2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 Gas temperature 0.5


Solid temperature 0 1200






1550 Imported pellets

1500 1450

Self-fluxed dolomite pellets

1400 1350 1300 1250 0.5









(CaO + MgO) / (SiO2 + Al2O3)

Temperature (°C) Fig 2. Changes in solid/gas temperature in the lower part of the furnace with pulverised

Fig 3. Relationship between temperature at end of melt and slag basicity

coal injection Controller Top hopper

Material control gate

Centre charged coke

Discharging rate

Flat part of coke


Fuel economy

Root of cohesive zone

CCC chute

Lo/(Lo + Lc)

Distributing chute

Center coke charging (CCC) Fig 4. Method of


burden distribution control at Kobe Works


Furnace working

the aim was to control meltdown in the peripheral area of the furnace at increased temperature by replacing lump ore with the self-fluxed dolomite pellets. Burden distribution Fig 4 illustrates the basic concept of burden distribution for a reduced coke rate in an all-pellet operation. It is important to form a flat part in both the coke layer and ore layer in the peripheral area of the furnace. The aim is to reduce any variation in the layer thickness ratio (Lo/(Lo+Lc)) at the periphery. This is to prevent pellets from flowing to the inner area, and to achieve the peripheral balance at the parallel twostage hopper. This achieves the appropriate peripheral gas flow, increases gas utilisation and lowers the coke rate.

Kobe.indd 2

Four-batch charging In all-pellet operation, the lump ore is replaced by self-fluxing dolomite pellets. For this, it was necessary to improve the accuracy of control of burden distribution during pellet charging. Therefore, the conventional two-batch charging (Fig 5a)

was replaced with four-batch charging (Fig 5b[3]. In addition, to control the pellet meltdown property in the peripheral area, when 2-batch charging was in use, 1.8% of the pellets charged to the periphery were small (3-6 mm diameter), these providing excellent reducibility[4].

(a) 2 Batch charging (C, CCC,O)

(b) 4 Batch charging (C1,CCC, C2, O1, O2) Ore2 Ore1



Coke CCC


Small size pellets (1.8%)

Fig 5a & b. Burden distribution control for 2-batch and 4-batch charging for low coke rate

October 2019

09/10/2019 10:17:21



Deadman coke


Root of cohesive zone

Shape of cohesive zone

0.8 0.7


Throat 0.6


Lo/(Lo+Lc) (-)

Lo/(Lo+Lc) (-)


0.4 0.3 0.2

0.5 0.4

After solution loss, curburization and metalloid reaction

0.3 0.2

Pellet rate = 80%




0.0 0






Dimensionless radius (-)







CR (kg/t)


Fig 6. Distribution of layer thickness ratio in radius at furnace top


Fig 7. (above) Coke rate supplied to the raceway corresponding to the layer


ΡCO (%)

thickness ratio in radius 50

direction at furnace top


Fig 8. (left) Changes in gas utilisation ratio distribution


in the furnace top radius


Fig 9. (right) Result of low


2 Batch

coke rate operation on

4 Batch

furnace parameters. RAR = Reducing Agent Ratio;

0 0 Centre




Dimensionless radius (-)

Burden distribution /lower gas flow The burden distribution at the top of the furnace affects the gas flow in the lower part of the furnace. Thus the purpose of controlling the burden distribution at the furnace top is to control the cohesive zone in the shaft for good gas permeability. However, coke is the only material filling the lower part of the furnace. Therefore, specification of the amount of coke distributed to the lower part of furnace in the radial direction has the most important role in burden distribution. Fig 6 shows the changes in distribution of the layer thickness ratio in the radial direction at the time of changing from the conventional two-batch charge with 65% pellet to the four-batch charge with 80% pellet. In spite of the increased pellet distribution, the layer thickness ratio in the intermediate area of the periphery could be made uniform with minimal change to the October 2019

Kobe.indd 3

LV= Low Volatile coal; 0.8

1 Wall

ΡCO = utilisation rate of the furnace top gas

layer thickness ratio at the centre. Fig 7 shows the coke rate required in the lower part of the furnace, corresponding to the distribution of the layer thickness ratio at the furnace top[5]. The coke rate in the lower part of the furnace was determined as the value obtained by deducting the amount of carbon consumed in the solution loss reaction, carburisation of the iron, and metalloid reaction, subtracted from the coke rate in the radial direction corresponding to the distribution of the layer thickness ratio at the furnace top. When the layer thickness ratio exceeds 0.7, the coke rate supplied to the lower part of the furnace becomes a negative value; the coke slit at the local part disappears and the gas distribution function is lowered. When the aim is to control the peripheral gas flow, and the layer thickness ratio of the peripheral area exceeds 0.7, the heat loss from the shaft is increased, and the

cohesive zone presents an S-shape, which means it becomes unstable[6]. For that reason, the layer thickness ratio must not exceed 0.7. Fig 8 shows the changes in gas utilisation ratio at the furnace top in low coke rate operation. In the all-pellet operation of this study, it was necessary to improve the accuracy of burden distribution for ore charging because the lump ore was replaced by self-fluxed dolomite pellets. To achieve this, conventional two-batch charging was replaced by four-batch charging. Furthermore, to control the pellet meltdown property in the peripheral area, small size pellets were loaded into this area.

09/10/2019 10:17:23




400 500 600 700 800 900

500 600 700 800

500 600

400 500

700 800

600 700 800 900 1000


900 1000


1100 1200

1100 1200

1000 1100 1200

increased use of self-fluxed dolomite pellets in this trial was 19 kg/t. With increased oxygen enrichment and pulverised coal injection the total fall of the coke rate was 32kg/tHM ie 10%.

1100 1200 Fig 10. Changes in furnace temperature distribution with low

4/4/2016 CR: 315kg/t,PCR198kg/t)

10/24/2016 CR: 283kg/t,PCR220kg/t)

Before (Apr 2016)

coke rate operation

After (Oct 2016)


t/d m3 1.92 1.99 +0.07


RAR kg/t



CR kg/t




PCR kg/t




Before (Apr 2016)

After (Oct 2016)



CR kg/t

Pellet rate






Oxygen enrichment






LV coal rate










Converter slag rate kg/t

Conclusions Kobe Works achieved a low coke rate operation of 283 kg/t in October, 2016 by combining the following technologies: (1) Increased use of Kobe steel’s selffluxed dolomite pellets to control the meltdown property at high temperature; (2) Accurate burden distribution using centre coke charging and batch charging; (3) Optimisation of the heat flux ratio by changing to pulverised coal injection and increased oxygen enrichment. At the same time, it is likely that the lower surface of the cohesive zone decreased. The Si content in the molten iron decreased from 0.71% to 0.48%, due to the increased use of self-fluxed dolomite pellets which have excellent hightemperature melting properties.

References 1 Y Matsui, A Sato, T Oyama, T Matsuo, S Kitayama and R Ono, ‘All Pellets Operation in Kobe No 3 Blast Furnace

Other - - - - 2

under Intensive Coal Injection’, ISIJ Int , Vol 43(2003),

SUM. - - - - -32

No 2, pp 166-174 2 K Narita, M Maekawa, I Shigaki and Y Seki, ‘On the

Table 1. Results of low coke rate operation

Permeability Resistance of Pellets Containing MgO in the Softening and Melting Zone of Blast Furnace’, Tetsu to

As a result, there was an improvement in the gas utilisation ratio (ηCO) from the intermediate area to the peripheral area. Results Fig 9 summarises the result of the low coke rate operation. From April 2016, high oxygen enrichment was started increasing from 2.8% to 4.6%. Furthermore, from 5 August, the use of coal injection increased from 60% to 100%, along with the use of low volatile (LV) coal of higher calorific value, and pellet use increased from 65% to 80% of the ore charge. This resulted in the coke rate falling from 315kg/tHM to 283kg/ tHM. With increased pellet charging, the utilisation rate of the furnace top gas (ηCO) increased, providing the benefits from the effect of the self-fluxing dolomite pellets which had an excellent high-temperature meltdown property. At the same time, the silicon content of the molten iron fell from 0.71% to 0.48%.

Kobe.indd 4

Fig 10 shows the changes in temperature distribution measured by a descending probe[7] during low coke rate (CR) operation. Regarding the 1200ºC line (red) profiling the top surface of the softening and cohesive zone, despite the lowering of the coke rate by 10%, from 315kg/t to 283kg/t, the 1200ºC boundary was controlled mainly at the upper end of the belly. Therefore, the heat flux ratio in the lower part of the furnace is properly controlled by changing to pulverised coal and increasing oxygen enrichment. At the same time, since the Si content in the molten iron decreased from 0.71% to 0.48%, while the 1200ºC line was controlled mainly at the upper part of the belly, the estimation is that the lower surface of the cohesive zone was lowered by the increased distribution of self-fluxed dolomite pellets. Table 1 shows the results of the low coke rate operation at Kobe No 3 furnace. The effect of reducing the coke rate by the

Hagané, Vol 24(1976), No 10, pp 1623-1632 3 K Tanaka, T Maeda, N Mitsuoka, H Toyota, A Sato and T Matsuo, ‘Charging of small pellet and changing of charging method at Kobe No 3 Blast Furnace’, CAMPISIJ, Vol 30(2017), pp 659 4 M Taguchi, S Uenaka, H Koizumi, M Takami, R Nishida and M Kitamura, Tetsu to Hagané, Vol 59(1973), No 2, pp A5-A8 5 Y Matsui, J Yamagata, K Nozawa, K Shibata, T Matsuo and R Ono, ‘The subject and control against unsteady phenomena forcing functional disorder on blast furnace performance’, CAMP-ISIJ, Vol 16(2003), No 4, pp 764767 6 K Shibata, Y Yamagata, R Ito, T Goto, I Mizuguchi and T Yabata, ‘Operation of Kakogawa No 1 Blast Furnace with High Pulverized Coal Injection Rate’, 1st ICSTI (1994) Sendai, 553 7 I Kobayashi, S Inaba, R Hori, T Goto and M Shimizu, ‘Measurement of Temperature Distribution by Descending Probe in Blast Furnace’, Tetsu to Hagané, Vol 73(1987), No 15, pp 2092-2099 8 K Tanaka, T Maeda, N Mitsuoka, H Toyota, A Sato and T Matsuo, ‘Operation of low Si hot metal at Kobe No 3 Blast Furnace’, CAMP-ISIJ, Vol 29(2016), pp 640

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Process data-based assessment Detailed inspections are extremely important when it comes to extending the life of coke oven batteries or when deciding on whether a replacement is required. A process data-based approach to so-called ‘lifetime assessments’ builds on collected information and presents an accurate picture on which operators can base their decisions. By Michael Neumann1, Dr. Patrick SchwĂśppe2 AS a major supplier of coke plant technology, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG is nowadays facing a market situation were an ageing asset of coke oven batteries is contrasted by a coke plant industry coping with the worldwide economic situation. Many coke oven batteries in operation are already 30 years or even older and, therefore, are affected

by the unavoidable age-related problems. These ageing coke oven batteries are already, or will be, potential candidates for replacements. In addition, environmental requirements for the operation of coke oven plants are being introduced and getting stricter. Considering the aforementioned conditions, coke plant operators are forced to act accordingly.

They are also faced with an economic situation characterised by substantial worldwide overcapacities and fluctuating commodity prices. In such an environment there is a strong tendency to delay big investment projects. As a result, coke plant operators aim to increase the lifetime of their coke oven batteries to a maximum. In order to support coke plant operators in

1 Head of Coke Oven Plant Department, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG 2 Senior Process Engineer, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG October 2019

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top through the oven closures • by automatic systems installed on oven or inspection machines • or by water-cooled endoscopes

developing the most appropriate measures to extend lifetime and determine the right point in time when a replacement of the battery is more reasonable, detailed coke oven battery inspections are a key element to establish a proper basis for such decisions. Based on these conditions, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG has developed a new process data-based approach to coke oven battery assessments. Inspections A typical approach to assess the current status of a coke oven battery is a visual refractory inspection. This frontal or direct approach is done by direct or indirect methods. Oven chambers and heating flues have to be inspected one by one. There are three common ways to conduct these inspections: • visually from battery side and oven

TK.indd 2

While conducting such inspections some of the damages are quite obvious [Fig. 1]. On the one hand, an obvious advantage of visual inspections is that little interpretation of inspection data is required: Big refractory damages, refractory spalling or even holes in the heating walls can easily be identified. On the other hand, the diagnostic depth of a visual inspection is clearly limited to the optically accessible areas of the refractory block. Further, such inspection is a) time consuming, b) causes interference with the operation and c) creates a loss in production. Afterwards suitable repair measures are utilised to maintain or repair the refractory and this leads to the question: is there is a way to identify critical conditions much earlier in the process in order to avoid extensive damages and repairs? Surely, at the end of a visual inspection, an assessment to the damage of an identified area is unavoidable. In recent years a new approach for inspection has been developed by thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG. This new approach follows a standardised procedure to streamline the assessment and increase the depth of information. The concept does not merely focus on collecting data about obvious damages on the refractory or the main mechanical parts. Instead, it integrates a rigorous process analysis in order to identify nonidealities that have not yet become obvious damages. Process data-based approach As a basic consideration for the process data-based approach, one should realise that refractory damage is not a mechanically isolated event. Even small leakages in the refractory block that have not yet materialised as obvious damages impact on the heating system. Thus these leakages can be potentially diagnosed by waste gas measurements. In addition lots of process data is continuously recorded in a modern coke plant. Only a limited range of the recorded data is really used for the purpose of analysis. Normally the recorded data is only used to enable coke plant personnel to operate the plant. Thus only relevant data


for the process control system is utilised in the control room. The majority of the data is just stored without further utilisation. This means that already available process data contains information on the condition of the refractory. Normally waste gas measurements are taken in order to survey overall emission levels and signal if the plant is working within the allowed limits. A conclusion on the root cause of deviations in waste gas measurements is not common practice. To start the process data-based assessment, the already available waste gas data is used to gain a first indication about leakages and the overall performance of the coke oven battery. Overall performance is indicated by carbon monoxide and oxygen. The sulfur balance can be utilised as an indicator for the overall tightness of the oven brickwork. Such an indication can be supplemented by hydrocarbon measurements. Based on the available data on-site, activities can be scheduled and efforts for those significantly reduced.

Fig 1. Refractory damage (typical)

As a second step, additional data is collected by measuring waste gas compositions on all waste gas valves of the coke oven battery. These waste gas measurements are done in advance of a visual inspection. While conducting the additional measurements, the same philosophy as for the initial data evaluation is followed up. The general performance of each heating wall is analysed by looking at tracer species like oxygen and carbon October 2019

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Example: Basis Plant Data NOvens












Working Ratio











Novens inspected tAll chambers

Visual Refractory Inspection (CS/MS)

Process inspection waste gas valves Nanalysers












tMeas. all valves





tMeas. all valves




Table 1. Sample plant configuration and results

monoxide and leakages in the refractory can be identified. As a result of the detailed waste gas analysis, areas with leakages and possible refractory damages can be narrowed down to individual heating walls. At a first glance, one may think that the time saving of this approach is not of great advantage if the inspection needs to be done only for one coke oven battery. A major benefit is generated, however, if a huge number of coke ovens need to be inspected and where it’s possible to focus on the essential and critical areas. To better understand the benefit of the process data-based approach both methods must be compared. As an example, a coke oven plant with 100 ovens is considered [Fig. 2]. Furthermore, the working ratio of the sample plant is 133.3%, which is equal to a coking time of 18 hours, a cycle time of 11.25 minutes and 133.3 coke pushes per day. For both methods it is pre-conditioned that each inspection is executed under perfect conditions. Unimpeded access to the ovens and waste gas valves and no technical problems during execution are assumed. A duration of 7.5 minutes is considered for the refractory inspections from the coke and pusher side. Considering

an 8-hour shift for inspection, only 25.6 ovens can be inspected per day which is quite an optimistic or unrealistic assumption under real conditions in coke plant operation. For the process-guided approach a duration of five minutes per waste gas measurement and waste gas valve is assumed. A further two analysers are used for the measurements. That means that 24 valves can be measured within one hour. In total it will take only 4.17 hours to measure the complete battery without any interference with the operation. After waste gas measurements have been taken, “battery maps” are generated by sophisticated computer-aided data evaluation. The “maps” provide an insight on the real status of a coke oven battery and are a useful guideline in terms of directing visual inspections to damaged areas within the battery. Benefits and conclusion The major benefit of a process databased battery assessment is a substantial reduction of the inspection time along with an improved depth of information. By evaluation of the recorded data a

conclusion about the condition of the entire refractory block is possible. Furthermore, information is gained on the condition of the coke oven battery’s regenerator. This insight is not usually given by the traditional method of battery inspection. At the same time, major battery adjustment information is collected, revealing great potential for operational improvements, such as adjustments to the heating system and improvements on NOx formation, which nowadays is of greatest importance. Furthermore, overall heat consumption can be optimised and the uniformity of heating wall temperatures improved. In-depth waste gas data analysis enables targeted countermeasures, such as repairs or operational improvements by adjusting the coke oven battery. The chances of success for specific repair measures can be estimated quite accurately. Why do we call it lifetime assessment? If the process data-guided approach is conducted on a regular basis precise information is collected. This allows for the lifetime assessment of the coke oven battery and it shows how the performance of the heating system and the refractory develops during each analysis cycle. �

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Safer coke making This article highlights the impact of manless coke oven machines on the health and safety, efficiency and productivity of coke making operations. The automation of coke oven machines is essential not only for improving the working environment – characterised by heavy dust emissions, high heat and demanding physical labour – but also for enhancing productivity. By Oana Niculita* AUTOMATION systems are increasingly important for coke plants, where most processes comprise of complex sequences of dangerous operations: ovens that heat coal to up to 1,200 °C, moving machinery, massive steel doors for locking the ovens, and gases that can ignite or cause cancer. The human aspect The processes of coke making are energy intensive and comprised of hazardous operations which cause accidents, acute injuries or fatalities. Deadly accidents in coke oven plants continue to be a reality all over the world. According to information provided by the Indian Ministry of Steel, 74 workers were killed between 2014 and 2017 in accidents in various plants across the country. On the other side of the world, online records of the OSHA in the USA show 16 fatal accidents on coke oven batteries over the past 30 years; most of them involving employees crushed between heavy equipment or burnt in hot coke ovens. Coke-oven emissions are proven to be human carcinogens based on evidence of carcinogenicity [IARC 1984, IARC 1987]. Workers at coking plants and people who live near have a high risk of exposure to coke-oven emissions and were found to be at an excess risk of mortality from cancer of the lungs, bronchus, trachea, kidney, and prostate. In August 2012 the UK Government officially introduced the legal entitlement for coke oven workers to Industrial Injuries Disablement for primary carcinoma of the lung. Historically, most previous efforts to improve the working conditions for coke oven workers focused on enforcing safe

Coke side emissions and ignition on a coke oven battery

work procedures, working conditions and environmental regulations. COSHH/OSHA regulations for coke oven facilities set up permissible exposure limits, engineering controls for charging and pushing, work practice controls and compliance programmes to reduce emissions, protective clothing and equipment, hygiene safety, medical surveillance practices, employee information and training, hazard awareness and recordkeeping. Stringent environmental control legislation worldwide has pressured coke

plant operators to improve techniques for emissions control. The European Union sets out two directives for coke plant operation: “IED Directive” (EU, 2010) on industrial emissions and the “Air Quality Directive” (EU, 2008), which address the conditions for plant operation and sets standards for emission control. These directives also stipulate that the “best available technique” (BAT) be applied for certain industrial plants in order to achieve environmental standards. With the significant developments

* Head of sales and marketing, John M Henderson October 2019

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achieved in the area of “zero emission” coke oven machinery technology, all machines can now be equipped with environmental control modules that enable them to capture all emissions occurred during charging, pushing, levelling and quenching operations. Charging emissions can be eliminated by operating modern screwfeeder charging cars. Smokelessand spillage-free charging is achieved by installing, for example, JMH’s specially developed stainless-steel telescope assemblies. Innovative emission control systems installed on the pusher machine and on transfer cars, designed to satisfy the toughest environmental regulations, are extremely efficient at containing coke dust and smoke. Door leaks and emissions are eliminated with the use of high-pressure water jet door cleaners and mechanical frame cleaners, which are considered the best available technologies for achieving zero emission coke oven doors. Decades of research and development in engineering enabled coke oven machines to achieve zero emission performance, but the key capability with the highest impact on human health and safety is the ability to remove personnel from hazardous areas. Automation technologies can be applied to coke oven machinery for the purpose of controlling their operation and reducing the need for human operators. Automation has proven to have the greatest impact in terms of personnel safety and environmental control; also improving overall productivity and efficiency of the coke making operation, reducing cost and energy consumption and increasing stability of the operations. Pre-requisites, requirements and components The necessity to man coke oven machines has been eliminated with the introduction of mechanisms to carry out all the necessary functions including automatic positioning. Fully automatic ‘manless’ operation involves the incorporation of all necessary mechanical control and communication equipment on the machine to enable remote control with no operator on board. To provide this, a co-ordination PLC and supervisory system is installed in the battery control room. The master PLC and wireless LAN control each coke oven machine so that monitoring and taking emergency procedures from the main control room is possible.

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Government officially introduced the legal entitlement for coke oven workers to industrial injuries disablement for primary carcinoma of the lung

The monitoring team in the control room can operate each individual motion of the machines from their replica operator interface. Components of a manless automated system In simple terms, to operate manless, a coke battery requires: Manless-capable coke oven machines, a data communication system between the machines and the control room, a co-ordinating system for a link between the machines and Level 2 system and a Level 2 System for developing a pushing/charging schedule.

Illustration of a high-level control room operating manless equipment

The data communication system between machines and the control room is one of the fundamental aspects to ensuring a successful manless coke oven plant. The LAN/Wi-Fi connection should be reliable enough that it doesn’t affect the day-to-day operations of the coke oven machinery. All

machine PLCs should also communicate with a central PLC, which identifies the machines used in production, ensures all are aligned to the same oven and all machine interlocks are healthy, generating a push-permissive command. While manless automation is made possible using advanced electrical control systems, it is essential that all mechanical equipment operates efficiently and in a reliable and repeatable fashion in order to maintain manless operation. Effective maintenance is needed to ensure that the coke oven machines and the required infrastructure for manless operation are operating in a very reliable way. The age of the equipment is not an impediment for manless introduction or upgrade. Over the past decade JMH has introduced manless capability worldwide to equipment that had been in operation for more than 30 years. The project of upgrading an existing facility to manless operation starts usually with reusing the existing control systems and structure, upgrading existing HMIs, code standards, mechanical or electrical control equipment if needed. For JMH, every manless project begins with an expert site inspection that will estimate the gap between existing mechanical, electrical and hydraulic facilities and the requirements for manless. The site gap analysis is an in-depth engineering assessment that provides a clear understanding of the condition of the existing equipment and identifies the upgrade works necessary to upgrade the machines to a fully automated condition, so that they operate in manless mode, without people. October 2019

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John M Henderson smokeless charging car

Automatic positioning and oven identification system One of the most important functions of “unmanned� machines is them having the ability to know exactly where they are positioned at any time and be able to transmit that information to the battery control room. The JMH automatic positioning system is a magnetic device consisting of a reader head mounted on the machines and transmitter heads mounted on each oven, bunker and maintenance position. It is a contactless system and provides guaranteed alignment accuracy of 3mm. Coke plants all over the world are actively making tremendous efforts to improve the quality of the working environment and to optimise operational safety in coke plants. Results show that by reducing the manpower directly involved in coke making production, they are significantly reducing labour costs and process cycle times and improving economic efficiency. Manless coke making is often adopted as a multi-phase approach; with coke operators starting to automate one type of machine in a small-scale project, then gradually extending the concept to other areas. In the following case studies, the economic effect of coke plant automation is analysed on the basis of manpower, productivity, rate of the operation, energy consumption and environmental protection.

old coke locomotives on a coke battery in Europe. The main objective of the project was removing all personnel from hazardous areas, as potential overrun of the push could have resulted in hot coke covering the locomotive cabin with high risk of operator injury. JMH has developed a complete automation system, which included controls for the two quench car locomotives as well as for seven battery machines and interconnected areas (guide machines, pusher machines, wharf ploughs, battery control room and quench tower) in order to enable the locomotives to operate in fully automatic mode, without an operator. Safety was ensured by installation of the necessary mechanical protection, suitably

designed PLC programmes and machine interlocks. The project had a significant impact on battery safety and productivity. Firstly, the potential for human injury or fatality was removed and, therefore, approximately 50 operators that could have been exposed to this unsafe area were removed. Secondly, the overall efficiency of the of the locomotive was significantly increased because of the new accurate automatic alignment and positioning system and the less downtime expected with better communications between machines and interlock systems. Impact of introducing automation on a coke plant in Asia Between 1990-2000 a coke plant in Asia studied the impact of introducing automatic control systems on coke oven operations in a project aimed at reducing manpower and the cycle times of operation. The economic effects of coke plant automation were analysed on the basis of labour saving, energy consumption, productivity, and environmental protection using data accumulated, such as the amount of coke production, the number of pushing operations, the weight of charged raw material, and annual energy consumption. In order to automate the overall coke plant, an automatic positioning and control system for travelling cars (pusher, charging car, transfer car and loco) was installed. For safety, travelling car collision avoidance systems and oven door open/close detection JMH manless transfer car operating in Posco, Korea

Impact of automating two 40-year-old coke locomotives, Europe JMH has recently completed the project of applying manless operation to two 40-yearOctober 2019

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systems were implemented in the pushers and transfer cars. As a result of the automation on these areas, the coke plant has achieved a total of US$5.15 million savings annually. The manpower was reduced from 40 to 14 on the battery included in the study. Due to the increased speed of the moving car, the operation cycle time was reduced from 14.36 minutes to 11.38 minutes, increasing the number of pushing operations by 13 times per day. Total energy consumption (Mcal/ton-coke) represented by the sum of fuel, electricity and crude light oil consumed in the coke oven process was reduced by US$390,000 per year. One of the biggest concerns surrounding the introduction of automation is the impact of jobs for workers and the fear that people may not be needed at all. While these worries are understandable, they are not accurate. Automation will not replace

Illustration of a high-level control room operating manless equipment

people in the coke making process, because unmanned systems involve human operators in supervisory and monitoring roles. Automation opens further opportunities for existing employees to be trained and expand their own skill set. Initial investment costs are typically the biggest obstacle that will decide whether a coke plant will invest in automation or wait until a later stage. Previous experience demonstrates that the scope of the investment is often overestimated. The site gap analysis is, therefore, key in assessing the initial scope and estimating the business case when considering the implementation of this technology. The returns can be substantial and quite often occur within a short space of time. A multi-phase approach is sometimes the best strategy for adopting automation: start with one type of machine/small scale projects, then include other coke oven machines. In conclusion, based on several studies and analysis of the implementation of manless operation, automated coke oven machines have a great impact on coke making operations, in terms of personnel safety and environmental control; improved overall productivity and efficiency, reducing cost and energy consumption and increasing stability and regularity of the operations. Automated processes can perform coke making functions in the hazardous environment of the coke oven machinery in a safer manner, more efficiently, more reliably, accurately and at a lower cost than human operators. �

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Ongoing issues with coal The drive to a speedy decarbonisation of the economy has increased significantly over the past 18 months, even more so since the publication of the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. Over the past few months, many governments have announced an end to coal-fired power generation within the next decade, and others have pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2050. These are all ambitious targets, but they have one clear common objective: eliminating fossil fuels as fast as possible, starting with coal. WHILE the pressure against coal has been felt by the power sector for decades, the steel industry has focused on carbon emission reduction, moving in the right direction to mitigate climate change and global warming. However, as the industry finds ways to reduce and ease its carbon footprint, it cannot afford to forget that coal still plays a very significant role in the steel manufacturing process. In this, it should heed the lessons from the power sector which realised only too late that civil society, governments and other key stakeholders would ask questions not simply about emissions, but also about human rights and other social, governance and environmental aspects of the supply chain.

Fig 2. Russian coal miners

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The coal mining company signs the Letter

An on-site visit is planned at the Bettercoal Supplier mine

of Commitment and becomes a Bettercoal

site(s). A detailed Assessment Report is developed and once


finalised, in consultation with the Bettercoal Supplier, is then shared with Bettercoal Members

2 DESKTOP REVIEW An Approved Lead Assessor is allocated


to the Bettercoal Supplier. The Bettercoal

The Continuous Improvement Plan (CIP) is finalised and

Supplier completes the Self-Assessment

shared with Members. Monitoring the CIP takes place

Questionnaire which is reviewed by the

according to timelines identified in the CIP. Verification

allocated Assessor. The Assessment Scope

methods include Desktop Review and Site-Visit. A public

is finalised and an Assessment Plan for

report will be uploaded on the Bettercoal website.

the Site Visit is developed and shared with



A full Re-Assessment is due within a maximum of five years from the coal mining company becoming a Bettercoal

Fig 3. Bettercoal assessment process

Global, long and complex The metal supply chain is global, long and complex, and steel is a crucial commodity as we move towards a low carbon economy and an increasingly urban world. This new world will require access to affordable energy, buildings, bridges, electric cars and an endless list of products which require steel and – ironically – coal. Coal currently accounts for over 75% of the final energy used in the steel industry worldwide (more than 10% of global coal production). For the time being, the boom in renewables requires coal; as an example, a wind turbine made with steel and sitting on a concrete base is more likely to have been manufactured using coal and coal biproducts. According to World Steel, it is estimated that the global steel industry uses about 2 billion tonnes of iron ore, 1 billion tonnes of metallurgical coal and 575 million tonnes of recycled steel to produce 1.7 billion tonnes of crude steel annually. Around 70% of global steel production relies directly on inputs of coal via the Blast Furnace (BF) and Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) route. Therefore, when looking at responsible sourcing, producing and any metric concerning environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, the steel industry cannot afford to ignore coal. But

Fig 1. SUEK mine (Russia)

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Supplier, The process starts from the beginning.

reading most of the literature, the focus of the industry when it comes to raw material sourcing seems to be on iron ore. Learning from the thermal coal supply chain Along with increased scrutiny and reporting requirements on ESG performance comes a drive for producers of steel to demonstrate the sustainability and responsibility of their supply chain. The responsible sourcing of raw materials has become essential for any business and coal is not exempt from these growing requirements. Indeed, coal – much like iron ore – needs to be produced responsibly and users need to be able to report on the performance of their suppliers, their carbon footprint, water usage, respect for human and labour rights and many other elements of ESG performance. Indeed, in many jurisdictions this is becoming a legal requirement. France, for example, created the “Loi de Vigilance”, making companies accountable for any human rights violations in their supply chain and there are strong indications that a similar law could be adopted by the European Union. End users are requesting more and more information on the supply chain of the products they buy. We cannot afford to simply view coal as a product to be removed from supply chains or to be ignored. It will be used for many decades yet, and, although consumption of thermal coal may decline at pace, coking coal will remain. We must be aware of the consequences of demonising coal. Coal is the easy target in the fight against climate change, but it is not the silver bullet we would like it to be. The stigma currently born by the coal industry

is dangerous for three main reasons. First, it has led to reduced and insufficient investment in technology to reduce the carbon emissions coming from coal for power generation. Second, it has ushered a decrease in scrutiny on the performance of coal mining operators. And thirdly, it has prompted a fragmentation of the industry and irresponsible divestment as opposed to responsible closure. All these factors are making the coal supply chain riskier. The trend to stop financing and insuring new coal fired power plants or thermal coal mines will one day spread to coking coal mines, as this tendency is likely to continue as long as other sources of energy keep getting cheaper and affordable, and scalable Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) solutions are not materialising. The trend pushing utilities and mining companies to divest their coal assets is not helping the fight against climate change; it is simply passing on the problem to another company. Moreover, it could be argued that by divesting, companies are being the opposite of responsible and that they are alleviating themselves from the challenges of shutting down, dismantling, rehabilitating the local environment and ensuring that both local communities and employees have an alternative means of subsistence. Responsible coal sourcing Being a responsible steel manufacturer is not simply about reducing emissions. It is about ensuring that your operations and those of your suppliers are mindful of environmental, social and governance performance. This means ensuring that the coal used in furnaces comes from October 2019

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responsible coal mines. This matters for two crucial reasons: one, buyers need to shield themselves from risk by ensuring that the producers they purchase from implement good practices; two, suppliers will increasingly need to differentiate themselves by demonstrating these good practices, as responsible business is good business and provides a competitive edge. The UNDP 17 sustainable development goals have also shone light on a whole range of areas, such as ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, ‘Good Health and Well-Being’ and ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, which provide focus for businesses to make a positive impact, beyond carbon emissions reduction. Mining can, in fact, foster economic development by providing opportunities for decent employment, business development, increased fiscal revenues, and infrastructure linkages. Many of the minerals produced by mining are also essential building blocks to technologies, infrastructure, energy and agriculture. As users of coal, steel manufacturers need to understand the risks in their supply chains. By understanding who

October 2019

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their suppliers are, by assessing their performance at mine site level and by understanding how this can be improved, buyers can ensure that risks do not disrupt their supply, but also be fully aware of the risks attached to purchasing from specific suppliers. Furthermore, the OECD guidelines and increasing legislation inside and outside of the EU, require end users to assess and mitigate the risks in their supply chains. Coal should be treated no differently to iron ore, cobalt or any other mined product. Coal has fuelled our economic growth for well over a century, benefitting from this cheap source of energy, and developing nations are now doing the same. Climate change and the increasing competitiveness of alternative energy sources mean that we need to wean ourselves off this resource unless we can find a true solution to remove the CO2 emissions from any process which uses fossil fuels. However, as our societies move towards decarbonisation, we cannot and must not wash our hands clean of the ongoing issues around the production of coal. And this is why Bettercoal aims at building a global responsible coal supply chain, to

ensure that, for as long as coal is used, it is produced responsibly and that a just energy transition remains the priority. Building a responsible supply chain Bettercoal was founded in 2012 by major European utilities who wanted to understand and manage the ESG risks in their coal supply chain. They created an internationally recognised standard for coal production called the Bettercoal Code which covers all of the major aspects of ESG performance. This is assessed through independent third parties who conduct an on-site evaluation of coal mining companies at least every five years, producing a continuous improvement plan, on which coal producers must report on at least twice a year. We believe that pass or fail does not help improve the supply chain, which is why we engage with all producers willing to improve their performance provided they meet our due diligence screening criteria. The coal mine site-assessments started in 2014 in Colombia and since then, Bettercoal has grown to work with over 20 mining companies in nine countries with over 35 sites assessed. This equates to approximately 10% of all traded coal. Although we started with a focus on thermal coal – as this was what most stakeholders were interested in – we have broadened our scope to cover coking coal as well, and in 2018 we assessed our first coking coal mine in Russia, the Taldinskaya – Yuzhnaya Mine. Being part of an industry programme and using an independent assessment to verify performance is a way to address the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Minerals – 5-Step Framework for Upstream and Downstream Supply Chains. For end users, the Bettercoal Assessment clearly identifies the risks in the upstream supply chain and provides a means to address them through continuous improvement. It also provides data and other elements to make public reporting easier. For producers, being assessed allows them to demonstrate strong management systems, to identify, assess and manage risks, and report on performance. We believe that if all the elements of the coal supply chain worked together around the same standard, this would significantly improve performance across the value chain, to the benefit of producers, buyers, communities, workers and other stakeholders alike. �

09/10/2019 11:37:43



Advanced cold rolling In the field of stainless and silicon steel flat product cold rolling, the 20Hi mill has proved its technological superiority compared to other rolling mill types such as the 6Hi rolling mill. However, as steel producers permanently experience considerable competitive pressure, perfect management of CAPEX and OPEX is always at stake, and human factors and environmental challenges – such as safety, pollution and energy consumption – have to be addressed. Fives has developed new design features for the 20Hi cold rolling mill and launched the DMS 20Hi EcoMill, which enables steelmakers to use a stateof-the-art rolling technology. By Alexis Duchene1 and Conrad Ernst de la Graete2. STAINLESS steel rolling differs from standard carbon steel rolling in several ways: • Strip surface aspect 2B/2A can only be reached using pure oil as a coolant and lubricant of the roll bite. • Strip surface is crucial. As a consequence, great care has to be taken to avoid a mill roll set or wiping device from damaging the strip surface. • Stainless steel grades are characterised by high yield strength and high work hardening. In order to efficiently roll these hard materials, small work

rolls have to be used. Rolling has to be performed under very high unwinding and winding specific tensions, requesting specific mandrel design. • Lack of strip roughness and high viscosity of coolant decreases the friction between coil wraps during coil winding. Therefore, strip wiping is a key issue as a coil telescoping risk becomes very high. • As pure oil coolant has a thermal capacity half below emulsions used on carbon steel rolling, coolant flow has to be significantly increased together with the rolling speed to keep the strip temperature

in a reasonable range. The strip has to be cooled down with rolling oil both before and after the roll bite. Strip wiping is thus more difficult, and a lot of rolling oil fumes is generated at the exit of the mill. Silicon steel rolling brings other challenges, such as: • Flatness control, which is crucial due to the brittleness of the material, mainly on steel with a content of up to 3.5% Si or higher. • Rolling under high temperature requires a controlled and homogeneous

1. Alexis Duchene, Sales Manager,, Fives DMS, Fives Group, France 2. Conrad Ernst de la Graete, Technical Director, Fives DMS, Fives Group, France

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Flow variation



% 105 104 103 102 101 100 99 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 91 90 0

previous design 50% 50% previous design 60% 40% new design ideal flow 0.2


0,6 Ramp width

Fig 3. Simulation of hoods efficiency

emulsion coolant flow, as well as advanced roll gap lubrication. A new generation mill Stainless and silicon steel markets are nowadays focused on strip widths of 52’’ (1320mm) and 63’’ (1600mm) to fit with stainless steel applications and reach the requested production rate. The 20Hi rolling mill is the only available technology featuring a very small work roll for such wide strips. This rolling mill technology is called a “cluster” because rolls are set in a cluster arrangement and not in a vertical stack. It has several particularities: • Roll set flattening creates natural strip edges over rolling. The first intermediate rolls have to ground with a taper relief in order to compensate for this phenomenon. On load the first intermediate roll shifting mechanism is requested to cover the changes in rolling conditions changes (rolling speed, entry thickness…). • Frequent roll changes are requested due to high compressive stress solicitation. Typically, work rolls have to be changed every 20 to 30 minutes and the first intermediate rolls every four to eight hours. October 2019

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Fig 2. DMS Wiper SCP 3.0 strip wiper cassette 1 Fig 1. Simulation of flow distribution along the strip width

Fig 4. Schematic of push-push mechanism

• Due to the very low thermal capacity of work rolls, any roll cooling disturbance along the width of the strip will lead to a strip flatness defect or a strip break, in a worst-case scenario. Heritage Fives has been specialising in cold rolling mill design and manufacturing for more than 60 years, being a technological pioneer and a partner for many international steelmakers worldwide. The company’s latest developments for a 20Hi rolling mill include rolling speed increase, new design of strip and work roll spraying, new strip wipers, a fume exhaust improvement, and a cutting-edge concept for flatness actuators and mandrel greasing. Fives has incorporated all those improvements: enhanced safety, friendly environment and ergonomics for operators, minimised environmental impact into the design of a new generation mill – the DMS 20Hi EcoMill. The new improvements aim to decrease operating costs, which is a very critical issue due to the highly competitive nature of the steel market worldwide.

Advanced roll gap lubrication and strip cooling Fives has optimised its spraying system shown in Fig. 1 to bring better distribution of flow along the width of the strip, typically in a range of +/-1% versus +/-3~5% for other technologies on the market. The spraying system is now fed only from the motor side allowing for a mill door to open and close without any flexible hose connection/disconnection. A coolant flow is divided into three zones at both entry and exit sides of the mill for a higher coolant flow range adjustment. Top and bottom flows can be individually controlled as an option for better strip cooling and lower strip wiping requirements. Spraying pumps can optionally be driven by variable speed motors allowing for an annual saving of around 1,100 MWh, i.e. €77,000 (based on €70/MWh) as pumps are stopped with the mill. New DMS Wiper SCP 3.0 In order to solve strip wiping issues, Fives introduced DMS Wiper SCP (Segmented Control Pressure) technology which became

09/10/2019 11:41:08

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Fig. 6 General view of the DMS 20Hi EcoMill

Fig. 5 Picture of mandrel shaft automatically greased

the reference in this field. SCP technology has been used and is still being used to replace other designs like the well-known “pollastrelli” or the wipers based on big steel, bronze of fleece rolls. SCP wipers allow for high speed rolling (references up to 1200m/min) even for a thin strip. Depending on product mix, a 5% to 10% annual production increase can be reached compared to, for instance, fleece wiping rolls. The advantages of DMS Wiper SCP 3.0 are as follows: First, backing bearings support the wiping rolls on its full roll face as shown in Fig. 2 and are staggered, which drastically reduce the contact pressure between the roll and bearings. Marks of backing bearings on the wiping rolls and the strip are then avoided. Fume exhaust Fives has also redesigned fume hoods (see Fig. 3). New hoods suck up more than 95% of fumes generated by a mill, which leads to a cleaner environment and better operating conditions for those working close to the mill and the amount of rolling oil dispersed inside the building has been divided by 10. Operators have a safer workspace as the floor is much less slippery. Optional installation of a variable speed motor to drive the exhaust fan allows for an annual saving of about 650MWh energy, i.e. €45,000/year (based on €70/MWh) as the fan is stopped with the mill. In parallel, Fives took the opportunity of a new design to rework the tightness of the rolling mill. In particular with side seals, fixed at the back and mobile on the operator side. This results in better fume recovery, but also in less external pollution. Advanced flatness control system The first intermediate roll shifting is designed with a hydraulic cylinder located October 2019

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at the drive side of the mill, moving the rolls forward and backwards. This design is well known as the “push-pull” system. Fives is now using an alternative “pushpush” mechanism as shown in Fig. 4 with hydraulic cylinders located at both the operator and motor side of the mill. Each of them is used to push the rolls. This design offers the following advantages: • No need for a complicated and weak connection between the hydraulic cylinder and rolls at the motor side. • Fast and reliable intermediate roll change. • No risk of fire related to the incorrect connection of the intermediate roll and hydraulic cylinder. Automatic mandrel lubrication Mechanical stress due to the high winding specific tension and thermal stress due to the high temperature of rolled strip require a nearly daily lubrication of the tension reel mandrels. As each of the two mandrels has 30 to 50 greasing points, not less than 20 minutes are required daily for the lubrication. Fives has developed a new concept of automatic greasing of the mandrels as in Fig. 5. The advantages of such system are: • Production increase of about 2,500 tons/year. • Lubrication grease saving. • Mandrel pyramidal shaft lifetime increase. • Safe conditions during mandrel greasing. General ergonomics All these developments led to several improvements. The main one is the general ergonomics of the mill as shown in Fig. 6. Operation accesses have been improved. For the stainless steel mills, the access to

paper coils has been facilitated, as well as replacement of paper coils. Another one concerns the main door where a small door is equipped with a push cylinder which allows easier and quicker access to the work roll and the first intermediate roll dismounting. Maintenance operation facilitation was also considered as a key feature. The new hoods are, for example, fully dismountable by overhead cranes to make access to the side equipment easier. New platforms on the back side of the mill allow easy access to the main spindle and pinion stand, resulting in easier and safer use of the rolling mill. Conclusion The following advantages of the cold rolling process of stainless and silicon steels for flat products are achieved due to the following developments: • Minimised operating costs thanks to energy consumption saving, production improvements, better design of well-known weak mechanical parts of the mill and faster mill maintenance. • Healthy environment and user-friendly operation. • Optimum strip wiping for high-speed production of thin strip with first ranked strip surface. • Optimum lubrication of the roll bite and advanced flatness control to produce the strip with very tight flatness tolerance. These improvements can be implemented for new mills and can be retrofitted on existing ones. � This paper was presented at the 4th European Steel Technology and Application Days (ESTAD) in June 2019 in Düsseldorf. The conference ran in parallel to the 2019 METEC/GIFA exhibition.

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Laser contouring of steelmaking vessels

Determination of refractory wear in hot vessels by laser has been available for two decades, but advances in hardware and software has made it possible to obtain a truer picture of refractory condition to prevent unplanned outages and so improve safety and productivity. By I Banerjee*, S Kumar*, S Singh* and D Kumar*

ALL steelmaking facilities use refractory lined vessels such as torpedo ladles to transfer molten iron from the blast furnace to the Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) and transfer ladles to move molten metal to the next process stage. It is essential to know the condition of the refractory lining in all these vessels on a regular basis

to avoid any unplanned outages due to refractory failure. Laser profile measurement has been used since the 1990s for this purpose. Contactless measurement of the refractory lining inside of a vessel can be accomplished in a few minutes by laser. Since the introduction of high speed laser scanners, they have become

increasingly important for determining the brick thickness of these vessels. With the advancement in software capabilities and enhancement in the field of fibre optics, laser contouring systems are finding extensive application in steel plants with a promising return on investment.

*The authors are with the Research & Development Centre for Iron & Steel (RDCIS), Steel Authority of India Ltd, Ranchi , India

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Short laser Pulse λ = 900nm (NIR)

Digital output


Transmitter Time measurement

Analog output Receiver

Reflected pulse Distance =d

Micro controller ∆t d = c ∆t/2 Fig 1. Laser time of flight principle for torpedo ladle refractory profile t/sec

Torpedo ladle Torpedo ladles convey molten ‘pig’ iron from the blast furnace to the steel shop. They are becoming increasingly important as steel plants often no longer have pig iron mixer vessels and instead require around 90% of the torpedo fleet in use for standard operation and as a buffer between the blast furnace and converter shop. Outage of a torpedo ladle results in severe disturbance of the production process. Recent laser scanning systems developed by companies such as LaCam provide a method of measuring that allows for regular recording of the refractory lining of the empty ladle in hot condition. A reliable evaluation of the actual condition is possible and the refractory lining life can be maximised. Rapid scanning of the object is possible via a pulsed laser beam time of flight (TOF) as indicated in Fig 1. Measurement is by a near-infrared (NIR) laser diode, which is deflected by a rotating mirror. A three dimensional profile of the vessel’s inner surface is created within a few seconds. The system has multiple sensors for temperature recording and incorporates intense cooling. In the case of any failure in the cooling system, the laser scanner is automatically removed from the hot area. The entire measurement takes less than three minutes and more than 3.9 million points with a location accuracy better than 5mm are created in the torpedo ladle scan. BOF profile measurement The Basic Oxygen Converter (alternatively named Furnace) is where hot metal from the blast furnace is converted to liquid steel. October 2019

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The high carbon hot metal is treated by blowing a jet of oxygen into it to remove carbon and other elements that have a high affinity to oxygen. The term ‘basic’ refers to the refractory linings of the furnace which are made of alkaline materials (dolomite and magnesite). Refractory linings must have specific properties to withstand high temperatures, the corrosive action of the highly oxidised and basic slags, and abrasion during charging and blowing. The refractory lining of the converter consists of an inner safety lining and outer working lining. The typical thickness of the safety lining is 225mm (9’) but some steel shops prefer 450mm (18’) at the bottom of the vessel. The working lining can vary in thickness depending upon the type of operation and upon the wear rate generally experienced. Higher wear areas should have greater thickness or use higher quality materials. The refractories for each area should be selected to have properties that reflect the wear mechanisms of the area where placed. Stresses in the lining will develop during operation and, therefore, refractories must resist thermal-mechanical stresses caused by thermal and permanent expansion of the lining in the horizontal directions and by the restriction imposed on the brick by the steel shell. Linings also must withstand mechanical abuse caused by deskulling of the lip ring and the cone to remove adhering slag and stresses caused by sudden temperature increases during burnin of the lining and as a result of thermal cycling between heats. The practice of gunning, spraying,

slagging, and slag splashing the refractories in a BOF is very important to maintaining the structural integrity of the BOF components. Such maintenance helps to protect a lining from excessive wear caused either by mechanical damage and/ or corrosive mechanisms. Maintenance also helps to effectively utilise downtime to extend campaign life. Therefore, inspection of the refractory lining becomes extremely important. These inspections are normally carried out visually; however, many companies also rely on a laser lining thickness measuring instrument. Laser readings must first be taken on a newly lined vessel and, in the early days of a campaign, every other day. As the vessel wears, the frequency of readings should be increased to daily. If heats known to be detrimental to linings are made, laser readings should be made after each such heat. Modern equipment incorporates mathematically integration of the furnace volume from the refractory lining laser scan and/or can determine the distance to the bath/slag surface using a radar unit mounted above the furnace. Measurement of refractory lining thickness can be performed either using a portable machine or a fixed system (Fig 2). The refractory lining measuring system determines: • Residual brick thickness of the refractory lining; • Wear of the refractory lining; • Wear speed of the different refractory materials; • Volume of converter; • Bath level for optimal lance positioning; • Optimal tapping angle; • Deformation of converter. Steel ladle measurement A ladle is a vessel used to transport and distribute molten metal. Classification of ladles according to task performed is given below: • Casting ladle: a ladle used to teem molten metal from its base into moulds to produce the casting. • Transfer ladle: a ladle used to carry a large amount of molten metal from one process to another. Typically a transfer ladle will be used to transfer molten metal from a primary melting furnace to either a holding furnace or an auto-pour unit. • Treatment ladle: a ladle used for a

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steel plant have become an integral part of new steel shops worldwide and can be retrofitted in older shops to improve quality and productivity. �


Operator console Fig 2. Laser measurement of

Laser scanner

converter lining


process to take place within the ladle to change some aspect of the molten metal such as trimming alloy additions to the required specification. Another example is to convert cast iron to ductile iron by the addition of various elements to the ladle. The refractory lining life of a ladle must be predictable and reproducible for safety reasons and to avoid process delays. Ladles are often removed from circulation to carry out maintenance of the lining. This can affect the adequate supply of ladles for the steel production. Also the cost of refractory for ladles is significant and disposal cost of spent linings is also substantial. Laser scanning of a steel casting ladle is designed to measure the ladle refractory lining from outside the ladle by means of sending infrared laser pulses to the wall and bottom of the ladle (Fig 3). Simultaneously to measuring the lining thickness the system measures the surface temperature of the lining with a high density of data collected (one measure point per laser shot). The temperature profile is displayed in 2D and 3D graphics. Non-uniform temperature distribution of the ladle lining and hot spots can be detected. With this additional information, the system provides improved confidence in the condition of the refractory and hence safety of the ladle. Conclusion Laser measuring systems have been developed for non-contact measurement of hot refractory linings in metallurgical reaction and transfer vessels. These rapidly

Kumar laser ironmaking copy.indd 3




scan the refractory through the mouth or top of the vessel with a laser-pulserepetition rate up to 300kHz or 125,000 measurement /sec. Technologies such as Echo-signal digitisation and online waveform analysis guarantee the best real value readings of each single measurement point. Laser contouring systems are now an integral part of steelmaking operations. They are widely used to predict the remaining life of a refractory lining. Advances in hardware and software have made it possible to obtain a true picture of the condition of the lining. These systems are able to prevent uncalled for outage of equipment and help increrase productivity. Consequently, laser contouring systems in

Fig 3. Laser scanner of ladle with rotating mirror

Acknowledgements We are grateful for the continuous encouragement and support from the management of the Research & Development Centre for Iron and Steel (RDCIS), Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) in preparing this account and permission to publish this paper. Bibliography 1. Rolf Lamm, Stefan Kirchhoff ‘optimisation of ladle refractory lining, gap and crack detection ‘Lining surface temperature and sand-filling of the ladletap hole by means of a 3D-laser profilemeasurement system that is immersed into a hot ladle to evaluate the entire condition’ Minteq International GmbH – Ferrotron Division. 2. Rolf Lamm ‘Laser Measurement System for the Refractory Lining of Hot Torpedo Ladles’, AISTech 2012. 3. Wolfgang Linden, Johann Reichel ‘Automatic tapping at BOF converters’ Technical contribution to the 47th Seminário de Aciaria – Internacional, part of the ABM Week, September 26th-30th, 2016, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. 4. Yoshito Isei, Tatsuro Honda, Kenichi Akahane, Hideyuki Takahashi ‘Development of refractory thickness meter for torpedo ladle car’ XIX IMEKO World Congress Fundamental and Applied Metrology September 6_11, 2009, Lisbon, Portugal.


Return beam Laser beam

Laser diode

Photo diode

October 2019

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ABB is sure to be involved Where the global steel industry is concerned, ABB is busy and there’s been no let-up over the past 30 years. The company’s Bernd Sachweh* expects interest to remain high despite ongoing challenges. 1. How are things going at ABB? Is the steel industry keeping you busy? The steel industry feels as hectic now as it has at any time in the last 30 years. While there are undoubtedly ongoing challenges, we expect interest from customers eager to invest in new technologies to remain high for the rest of 2019. 2. What is your view on the current state of the global steel industry? There are problematic issues, not least overcapacity, largely as a result of China’s huge investment in steel production in the past two decades. More recently, we are also experiencing rapid expansion in the US as a result of import tariffs and remarkable investment. The industry has been hugely affected by concerns for the environment and the need to reduce resource usage – challenges that require a constant stream of innovation. Wherever there are technological developments, ABB is sure to be involved and we are constantly updating our offering in line with market needs. 3. In which sector of the steel industry does ABB mostly conduct its business? ABB in Metals is principally a technology business, offering products, services and end-to-end solutions that improve productivity, quality, safety and costefficiency in iron, steel, aluminium and other metals production processes. We serve the entire industry from material handling to processing, with a particular focus on rolling and processing lines. In addition, our ABB Minerals colleagues are highly active in the primary and raw materials sectors. 4. Where in the world are you busiest at present? Our fastest growth area is definitely the

US, but in terms of total volume, Europe. However, we maintain a footprint wherever the industry is located in the world, so Asia, Latin America and India are also important.

5. Can you discuss any major steel contracts you are currently working on? Early next year, we will deliver our ArcSave® electromagnetic stirrer to voestalpine’s Kapfenberg plant, helping optimise output and lower environmental impact. We also have several orders for complete electrification and control in rolling and processing including a substantial project for modernisation of a European tandem cold rolling mill for a global steelmaker. Looking strategically, we are focusing on global corporations, aligning our solutions to customer needs and working towards long-term collaborations. 6. Where does ABB stand on the aluminium versus steel argument? ABB technologies support both aluminium and steel producers, enabling them to optimise performance and produce high

quality products as efficiently as possible. When it comes to selecting raw materials for any specific purpose, manufacturers are best qualified to make those kinds of decisions. 7. What are your views on Industry 4.0 and steelmaking? We’re trying to steer a path through all the Industry 4.0 hype and offer customers tangible solutions to real challenges that they can implement without delay and within budget. We are well-positioned to develop such solutions due to our process expertise. Our digital offerings include solutions to monitor processes and assets, using the data gathered to visualise, analyse and predict operations to optimise resource utilisation-assets, manpower, raw materials and utilities. We also offer digital solutions that use advanced data analytics to unlock higher levels of end-product quality. When the need arises, we are able to join forces with premier IT partners to develop digital solutions including Microsoft for our enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure and IBM for industrial artificial intelligence solutions, not to mention the smaller companies with niche digital competencies that we can leverage for the benefit of our customers. 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? Of course, it’s clear that climate change is real. ABB is committed to providing a portfolio of products, solutions and services that optimise the use of resources and reduce environmental impact.

* Head of ABB in Metals October 2019

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9. In your dealings with steel producers, are you finding that they are looking to companies like ABB to offer them solutions in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability? We are constantly working with customers to facilitate the most efficient methods of production flow. ABB offers the world’s most efficient drives and market-leading automation and control systems which form the basis of process-specific solutions tailored to metals industry needs. In primary metals our ArcSave electromagnetic stirrer helps reduce EAF electrical energy consumption by up to 5% and lowers process additions and consumables usage while improving productivity, and ABB Ability™ Performance Optimisation for steel melt shops helps to retain heat within the steel production process by using digital tools for heat loss prediction, ladle and crane tracking and crane job forecasting and scheduling. 10. How quickly has the steel industry responded to ‘green politics’ in terms of making the production process more environmentally friendly? The industry has responded pretty rapidly to the challenges posed by sustainability, reduced CO2 emissions and environmental issues more broadly. Some regions – such as the Nordic countries – are responding more quickly than others, and ABB’s own digital solutions are offering customers new and powerful ways to minimise environmental impact. However, I think it will be at least three to five years before we start to see completely carbon neutral production processes. 11. Where does ABB lead the field in terms of steel production technology? Principally in metallurgy products, where we are at the forefront of developing electromagnetic stirring solutions. Aside from ArcSave, we have the FC Mold, with its simultaneous braking and stirring in the mold, which can work together with digital products such as ABB Ability™ Optimold Monitor and ABB Ability™ Optimold Control to close the loop in continuous casting, provide real-time, automated control and unlock higher levels of optimisation. 12. How do you view ABB’s development over the short-tomedium term?

perspectives.indd 2

We expect to see continued demand for our solutions for the good reason that we focus on our customers, listen closely to them and react rapidly to their needs. 13. China dominates global crude steel production. How should the industry react to this situation? Politically, world governments have various options open, in terms of controlling the supply of, and demand for Chinese steel, but there is a limit to what the industry can do while steel production remains a valuable revenue stream and source of employment in China.


others. For example, India currently has a very low per capita level of consumption. In the short-to-medium term, it is hard to see how the industry will overcome the overcapacity issue until there is some consolidation of the industry in China. 17. What exhibitions and conferences will ABB be attending over the next six months? We have just ended a busy events season for 2019 with a visit to Aluminium USA and the next six months are reasonably quiet. In 2020, we plan to join a number of major events around the world such as AISTECH, TMS, ECCC and Aluminium Düsseldorf.

14. What is ABB’s experience of the Chinese steel industry? Generally, highly positive. China has been the leading market for ABB in Metals for at least the last two decades and we have developed an excellent local metals organisation with a deep understanding of the Chinese market. We have recently completed a deal to supply end-to-end electrification and automation for Ningbo Baoxin’s high-quality, ultra-thin stainless steel strip production line in Zhejiang province, eastern China. 15. Where do you see most innovation in terms of production technologies? In terms of reducing environmental impact and improving efficiency, I see a lot of innovation in the primary sector – for example, our own solutions such as ArcSave and ABB Ability™ Performance Optimisation for steel melt shop. On the downstream side, we are seeing innovation focused around improving the quality of the steel product, for example, the trend away from crude steel towards stainless and silicone grades. In response to this we’re working on digital solutions that apply processspecific analytics to improve quality, yield and productivity in rolling and processing. On a plant and enterprise level there is great potential for further optimisation with increased integration, visualisation and analytics, for which we have developed ABB Ability™ Data Analytics Platform for metals. 16. How optimistic are you for the global steel industry going forward? The steel industry is not going away, and consumption seems highly likely to grow for the foreseeable future. There are certain areas with greater potential for growth than

18. Apart from strong coffee, what keeps you awake at night? I still thrive on coming up with solutions to meet our customers’ needs. Travel too is a sleep-killer – it sometimes feels like I have no night-time at all! 19. If you possessed a superpower, how would you use it to improve the global steel industry? Given that the global metals and mining industries are probably the world’s biggest consumers of energy, I’d direct my superpowers at finding quick, simple and affordable ways of neutralising our environmental impact. � October 2019

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HISTORY The 22.1m diameter Laxey Wheel is believed to be the largest working water wheel in the world 1. The power transmission rods run on flange wheels enabling their 3m back and forth stroke 2. The 2.5t cast iron crank drives timber rods to transmit power to the mine shaft


The wheel is open to visitors from 1 April to 1 November in 2020 from 0930hrs to 1700hrs. For further details visit laxey-wheel/

The Great Laxey Wheel BELIEVED to be the largest working water wheel in the world, the 22.1m (72.5 ft) diameter wheel built to drain the Laxey zinc-lead mine on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, has operated for 165 years. Named Lady Isabella, the wheel was completed in 1854, and is constructed of cast iron and timber. The 5.18m (17’) long axel of diameter 0.53m (21”), bearings and 1.52m (5’) crank were cast by the Mersey Iron Works of Ellesmere Port, UK and brought by ship to Laxey. Since Laxey has no deep water harbour, the ship was brought as close as possible to the shore at high tide and the 10 ton axel and 2.5t crank thrown overboard and collected at low tide. The rim of the wheel measures 69.45m (228’) in circumference, and is made up of plates cast on the island by the Gelling’s Foundry in Douglas. All small castings, such as the attachments for the wooden spokes of the wheel to the rim, were also made by Gelling. The total weight of the wheel is over 50 tonnes, but so finely is it balanced that it can be turned by hand for maintenance. The wheel transmits its power to the pump in the shaft via the 183m (200’) long viaduct seen to the right of the picture. October 2019

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A series of timber bulks approximately 150mm (6”) square, flexibly joined with cast iron couplers, and supported by flanged wheels on rails, move forwards and back by 3m (10’) with each rotation of the wheel. This horizontal motion is converted to vertical at the top of the mine shaft by means of a T rocker counterbalanced against the weight of the pump rods descending the shaft. Spiral staircase Possibly a unique feature of the wheel is the tower with spiral staircase. This contains the water to drive the wheel and is supplied from its base by a pipe leading to a water cistern situated on the hillside at an elevation of less than a metre above the top of the tower. The hydraulic pressure is sufficient to fill the tower and overflow onto the wheel. The 1.8m (6’) wide wheel is pitch backshot with water entering a little below the very top of the wheel driving it clockwise from the position viewed in the photograph. Revolving at between 2.5 – 4 rpm, the wheel generates up to 200hp (149kW), and could remove 90,000 litres (20,000 gallons) of water in an 8-hour pumping period. This

more than adequate power was never put to full use, an additional crank available for the other end of the axel lying in the grass nearby. The wheel replaced an earlier 15.3m (51ft) wheel found inadequate to drain the mine. Indeed, up to 20 wheels operated at various times across the mine for pumping and hoisting activities, the first, a 7.8m (26’) installed in 1828. A steam beam engine was installed at the shaft in 1846, but importing coal was costly and this was replaced by a water turbine in 1856, with the steam engine retained until 1910 for use in times of drought. The Great Wheel was a tourist attraction from the very start. Designed by Robert Casement, a Manx man and self-taught engineer, there was really no reason why the wheel could have been built much closer to the mine shaft, reducing the viaduct to one or two arches. Likewise, water could have been supplied to the wheel via a launder as is the usual practice, rather than the water tower with spiral staircase. But the latter offers magnificent views of the mine and Laxey village which visitors from Victorian times to today can enjoy. �

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Steel Times International October 2019  

Steel Times International October 2019