EAF tech to reduce costs, drive sustainable production

7th July 2023

EAF tech to reduce costs, drive sustainable production

IN OPERATION SMS group’s continuous caster for billets and beam blanks in operation at SULB

Global player, with German roots, SMS group is providing innovative technology solutions for electrical steel production through its electric arc furnace (EAF) technologies and optimised processes.

With a strong emphasis on improved electricity efficiency and future-orientated burner and oxygen-injector technology, the company’s designs enable clients to achieve higher productivity while ensuring process reliability and safety, as well as reducing production costs.

One of the key factors driving its EAF technology development is the goal of reducing the overall costs associated with electric steel production, the company says. By focusing on cost reduction, SMS group ensures that its clients can achieve shorter payback periods for their investments.

“Our extensive experience in the development, construction and commissioning of EAF technology spans over a century, making us a trusted and knowledgeable partner in the industry.”

With nearly 1 400 EAFs installed in new construction and revamp projects combined, one of SMS group’s most notable products is the CONDOOR system, which is a high-performance slag door designed to enhance safety and improve overall performance while reducing operating costs.

The slag door plays a crucial role in the EAF melting cycle as it facilitates the safe removal of newly formed slag. The CONDOOR system optimises all activities related to the slag-door area, resulting in improved performance, safety, and cost efficiency.

With features such as automated cleaning of the sill-breast area and closed-door operation, it provides reliable access for automatic sampling and temperature control management. By using the CONDOOR system, SMS group says clients can expect the highest standards of quality, reduced material and energy consumption, and increased yield.

SMS group has been commissioned by SULB Company BSC, in the Kingdom of Bahrain, for the modernisation of an EAF and will install the CONDOOR slag-door system to enhance furnace sealing and improve safety.

“This project represents our commitment to supporting our clients in achieving their sustainability goals while optimising their operational efficiency,” says SMS group South Africa key account manager Dawid Louw.

The company’s X-Pact advanced unit rectifier assembly (AURA) is another innovative solution designed to efficiently feed direct current electric arc furnaces (DC EAFs) in various power network configurations, including weak grids.

Built upon modern insulated gate bi-pilar transistor technology, this system achieves “world-class performance” in terms of current stability, dynamic response, efficiency, reliability, and compliance with IEEE 519 standards.

One of the key advantages of the X-Pact AURA is its ability to eliminate the need for expensive switched virtual circuit or static synchronous compensator installations, thereby reducing the impact on the power grid.

It further also enables faster and more precise energy input regulation, resulting in reduced electrical energy consumption and electrode usage. The system also ensures increased availability of the EAF, even in the event of single failures, and reduces the requirements for spare part inventory.

Additionally, it provides a scalable architecture that can readily integrate with renewable power sources, further contributing to sustainable energy usage.

The company states that with the X-Pact Leading Automation system, they offer a comprehensive automation solution that encompasses process optimisation, operator guidance and energy efficiency improvements, adding that the newly developed automation system includes modular basic and process automation packages, allowing clients to achieve greater sustainability through optimised power supply and drive systems.

The X-Pact Leading Automation system offers digital commissioning during the X-Pact Plug & Work integration test, innovative X-Pact Vision Human/Machine interface concept for smart operation and visualisation, advanced X-Pact Process Guidance for future automatic control, comprehensive diagnostics for startup and ongoing operations, energy efficiency improvement through smart software solutions, quality monitoring, and predictive systems for condition analysis.

It also enables fast startup and commissioning, infrastructure for remote support with X-Pact Service, and integration of innovative measuring systems.

Scrap Management

SMS group’s Scrap Management Suite is a powerful tool that reduces the carbon footprint of its clients while simultaneously reducing production costs.

This suite uses advanced technologies to collect process- and material-related information from the scrap yard. Artificial intelligence tools and mathematical models analyse this data, allowing for the optimisation of scrap use and enhancing the overall efficiency per ton of scrap used.

By implementing optimised strategies for scrap selection and charging, SMS group says its clients “can achieve substantial cost savings, reduced energy consumption, and a more sustainable approach to steel production”.

To showcase the effectiveness of its technologies, the company highlights some of its projects, such as in 2020, when it successfully supplied a 160-t EDGE DC EAF to Big River Steel in the US.

The EDGE DC EAF technology offers numerous advantages, including higher productivity, a reduction in energy consumption, and lower environmental impact compared with traditional steelmaking methods.

“By adopting this advanced technology, Big River Steel has positioned itself as a leader in sustainable steel production,” says SMS Group South Africa MD Pieter Bezuidenhout.