Research in extreme environments provides practical solutions for steel industry

Mike Dowd explains how SaMI’s SINTEC facility is leading research that simulates extreme environments and provides practical solutions for the steel industry and supply chain.

 
SaMI’s unique SINTEC facility enables process simulation, asset integrity testing and compositional analysis of materials at very high temperatures in reactive gas atmospheres including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide & carbon dioxide.

By simulating industry processes such as steelmaking on the lab scale, SaMI is providing unique and essential facilities for research into breakthrough technologies to address industrial decarbonisation and net zero manufacturing and materials.

 

Industrial process simulation in extreme environments

SINTEC is equipped with high temperature furnaces that can test various materials systems up to 1600ºC in controlled gas atmospheres. Integrated mass balance technology enables the study of materials in both oxidising and reducing environments and with online monitoring, provides an exclusive opportunity to take a virtual look inside industrial process.

Research study areas
  • Optimising blast furnace performance through reduced reaction times for raw material feed
  • Assessing alternative iron making technologies and fuel switching opportunities such as introducing hydrogen and non-fossil fuel carbonaceous alternatives into the process
  • The evaluation of refractory thermal efficiency and performance under different atmospheric conditions
  • The surface interaction and wettability of molten metals by contact angle measurement
  • The development of a visualisation furnace with viewing ports that creates the opportunity to use ultra-fast digital imaging and high-speed thermal camera systems
  • High temperature oxidation kinetics of various material systems.

 

Product & asset integrity testing

SINTEC operates several corrosion chambers that simulate the conditions required to replicate the extreme environments experienced by components in service. The equipment enables lifetime assessment of materials in controlled atmospheres at temperatures up to 1800ºC.

Research study areas
  • Wet sulphur dioxide evaluation for lifetime assessment of painted and other metallic products
  • Sour service corrosion evaluation to investigate susceptibility of pipeline materials to hydrogen induced cracking in oil and gas industry applications
  • Corrosion-Fatigue assessment of materials subject to high temperature corrosive environments and repeated cyclic loading
  • Mechanical testing in environments containing hydrogen to study embrittlement behaviour

 

Gas analysis & Metrology

SINTEC uses advanced analytical techniques including pyrolysis gas chromatograph mass spectrometry (GCMS) to study ultra-fast, high temperature processes in extreme environments. The equipment allows for in-situ measurements of the various gaseous and volatile organic species that evolve from simulated industrial processes.

Research study areas
  • Displacement of fossil fuel carbon with non-fossil fuel carbonaceous waste within the ironmaking process.
  • Study the volatile fraction of fossil fuel and non-fossil fuel (e.g., non-recyclable waste, plastics, biomass and modified biomass)
  • Ultra-fast pyrolysis GCMS to study the ultra-fast thermal processes found in a blast furnace
  • Capture waste gas samples from laboratory simulated industrial processes to exploit as a potential raw material for other processes.

 

Practical solutions for companies

Working together closely with the steel industry and supply chain companies we are finding practical solutions to the biggest challenges the industry faces. SaMI’s facility has enormous potential to help the steel industry transition to help achieve a net zero Wales.

 

We welcome enquiries from steel and supply chain companies looking for research solutions.

 

Published May 2022

Mike Dowd is SINTEC Facilities Manager for the Steel and Metals Institute based at Swansea University.

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