British Steel is a long steel products business producing steel used for construction and high-performance rail applications in addition to a range of bespoke steel profiles to meet customer demands.
The steelmaking process begins at the blast furnace which is used to produce pig iron from iron ore, which is subsequently processed into steel.
To satisfy the increasingly demanding blast furnace processes in terms of productivity and reducing agent consumption, British Steel approached SaMI to help design a new blast furnace simulation test procedure to provide burden quality determination that is accurate, predictive and more relevant to their operation than existing test standards.
British Steel sent several routine and special sinter samples to Mike to test in SaMI’s reducibility rig. Following the learnings from this initial testing, Mike worked closely with British Steel to develop an updated test program to better replicate the reduction conditions in a modern blast furnace practice with both high coal and high gas injection rates.
As well as sinter and pellets used in the steelmaking process, SaMI’s reducibility rig can be used to test novel raw materials such as composite polymer bonded briquettes which have much lower embedded CO2.
The solution / results
Facility manager Mike Dowd’s considerable expertise and experience with the reducibility test equipment enabled him to supply a full results analysis with the minute-by-minute reduction curves too. Providing this level of analysis is unique and gives valuable insight to the customer British Steel.
As Mike’s standard of work and analysis is of the highest quality, it enables access to a level of detail that would otherwise be unavailable to British Steel and the wider steelmaking industry.
SaMI invested in modifications to the reducibility rig to give full flexibility for the customer to replicate future scenarios with higher H2 process gases.
Through analysis carried out using SaMI’s reducibility test rig, British steel can look at how they can simulate the conditions of a blast furnace at lab scale as they work to reduce their carbon emissions. This is essential in their challenge to decarbonise their products and processes as the steel industry works towards net zero manufacturing.
The steel industry is one of the top three contributors to CO2 emissions, and more than 70% of greenhouse-gas emissions in the steel industry are directly linked to use of coal either as a reductant in the blast furnace or directly as a fuel.
Enhanced understanding and implementation of new blast furnace test procedures in collaboration with industrial partners such as this one with British steel will provide an already industrially validated pathway for research into green alternatives.
Contribution thanks to Peter Warren from British Steel