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Innovative technologies are making steel industry more efficient

Steelmaking is a primal industry that requires huge amounts of heat and energy. As such, it isn’t the first sector that springs to mind when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability. Nevertheless, the industry is taking steps to improve its eco-credentials, employing a range of innovative technologies to reduce the environmental impact of steel production. One example of this is the use of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbines at the Ori Martin steel plant in Brescia in northern Italy, which produces hot-rolled steel for the mechanical and automotive industries. During summer operations, the ORC system generates enough energy from waste heat to meet the electricity consumption needs of 700 local families. In winter, the waste heat is used to heat up 2,000 households through the local district heating network. 

This reduces the factory’s carbon footprint by 10,000 tons of CO2 a year, as well as eliminating the need for water-cooling.

The heat recovery system, which have been installed by a third party, and the ORC turbine, which have been installed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group company Turboden, capture the exhaust gases and turn them into electrical energy and thermal power. They are based on the conventional steam turbine systems found in power plants. Instead of generating steam from water, however, the ORC system vaporizes an organic fluid. This not only removes the need for water, it also enables the turbines to run at lower speeds and pressures – using less energy – while minimizing metal erosion. It’s a low-cost system requiring limited maintenance, which doesn’t need a qualified operator as it runs automatically.

Recycling is another way in which the steel industry can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future.

Steel in itself is 100 percent recyclable. It can be used repeatedly without loss of integrity. The industry has long been taking advantage of this by using scrap steel as an additional element in the steel making process, forming a circular loop where nothing is wasted.

But steel production generates high volumes of waste materials like dust, fines and mill scale, all of which need to be handled and disposed of effectively. And by-product recycling solutions are one way to convert residual production materials into a useful and profitable resource.

At Ori Martin in Brescia, for example, the dust accumulation and by-products of manufacturing are recycled. The plant is also fitted with a high-temperature water recycling circuit to avoid wasting water used for cooling steel bars as they emerge from the foundry. 

Adopting such a resource-efficient approach to manufacturing is not only economical, but also lowers the industry’s impact on the environment.
Source : FORBES
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