It is believed that the steel industry goes through three stages in reduction of carbon emissions before the near-zero stage is reached. These stages are optimization stage, transition stage and green end stage. The purpose of this article series is to address the pathways to the decarbonization of the steel industry. The theme of this article is the optimization stage. Click here to read the first part!
The optimization stage, as the name implies, deals with process optimization. The first step is to utilize existing solutions for an integrated steelmaking process. This means the use of renewable energy and recycling of energy-rich gases and heat. Industry 4.0 and digitalization have made it possible to optimize processes in the steel industry, making them more efficient by leveraging new technologies. For example, in electric steelmaking, new technologies can be utilized to optimize the electric arc furnace. A good example of this is Luxmet’s solution ArcSpec. It makes it possible to optimize the furnace to be more efficient and productive, making the process more environmentally friendly. The implementation of advanced process control and Industry 4.0 enables the best performance in the industry. These methods will further reduce energy consumption and related carbon emissions. (Ellis & Bao 2021)
Steel scrap will play a major role in the optimization stage. Recycling steel scrap has already reduced emissions as the route using recycled steel requires 56% less energy than the route using iron ore in the primary steel production (Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries 2012). Scrap-based EAF steelmaking will increase over time, but the regional availability and the quality of scrap will affect its use and the used steelmaking route. It is also possible that the usage of scrap will increase in the BOF process, because technically, up to 30% of BOF’s charge can be scrap. (Ellis & Bao 2021)
The most attractive optimization opportunities for each steelmaking plant vary depending on the availability of competitive raw material (ore-based raw materials and scrap), plant configuration and the final steel product mix. Steel production with the EAF process route is much more environmentally friendly than the integrated steelmaking route and will increase in the future. The optimization and use of renewable energy in the EAF process will reduce emissions even further.
If you are interested in learning more about EAF optimization, you can contact us directly through our website. Also, be sure to attend our free webinar on 9th of February where we will discuss more about the future of steelmaking. You can register via this link.
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Ellis, B. & Bao, W., 2021. Pathways to decarbonization episode two: steelmaking technology [online]. Available at: https://www.bhp.com/media-and-insights/prospects/2020/11/pathways-to-decarbonisation-episode-two-steelmaking-technology/ [Accessed 18 January 2021]
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, 2012. The ISRI scrap yearbook 2012. Washington DC, USA.