Case Study Of The Foundries In Haora

6.1 Background


HE FOUNDRIES IN HAORA (a suburb of Kolkata) had been in the news in India for the air pollution that they caused. Since the pollution from foundries was being discussed nationally, the purpose of the study was to see if principles of Industrial Ecology could be helpful in finding a solution to the problem. Many scientists had worked on new technologies to minimize pollution and many agencies, including international agencies, had funded research projects in the region. A number of studies had also been done on increasing the energy efficiency in the industry. The task of carrying out an Industrial Ecology Study of the foundries was very different from the typical regional approach such as in Tirupur. The Haora study was restricted to one type of industry and one where the processes followed by the different units in the industry were very similar. Hence a typical waste exchange program was not viable. Since all the units followed very similar processes, one option was to look for recycling possibilities within each industrial unit. The second option was to look for sharing resources in the industry with a view to better efficiency. In the absence of any clear working format, it was decided to follow the method developed for the Tirupur study, which was to prepare a detailed fact file on the region and to understand the flow of resources within each unit and in the cluster as a whole.

6.2 Fact File on the Region
6.2.1 The Region
Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), the capital of the state of West Bengal, was once the seat of the British Empire in India. It is the major and most important



city in the eastern region of India. Since it was an important port, it was also a major commercial center of India. Most of the international trade of the eastern region of India passes through Kolkata. The eastern region (comprising the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the northeastern states) is the most mineral-rich region of the country. Among other minerals, the region accounts for most of the country’s production of coal, which is the second-most predominant fuel used in India (after firewood), and iron ore. West Bengal became the site for many large engineering industries during the British rule in India and consequently, the engineering industry here is very well developed.
India’s coal reserves

India has large reserves of coal, which is a major energy source. The quality of the coal deposits is mostly poor and the ash content is often higher than 40%. The reserves are mainly in the eastern state of Bihar, with some smaller deposits in neighboring Madhya Pradesh and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Haora town, on the other side of the river Hugli from the metropolitan area of Kolkata, became a major industrial center. The engineering labor here is known to be extremely skilled and inexpensive. However, over the last three decades, Kolkata for various reasons has lost its predominant position as an economic center in India. The first reason has been the very militant trade unions, who in the late sixties and early seventies scared the industries out of West Bengal. The second reason was the endemic power shortages that plagued the region for many years. However, in the last few years, the labor situation and the power situation have both improved dramatically.
Power supply in India

Except in a few states, the power generation is far from adequate and power shortages are common in most parts of the country. Frequent blackouts are common. Many areas get power only a few hours in a day. Business establishments, who can afford it, have stand-by power generation systems of their own.
The result of this economic decline in the region has been that many industries, like the foundry industry, which supplied goods and services to the other large industrial units, suffered.



Haora is a very overcrowded town with narrow streets and literally thousands of industrial units humming with activity. The air is extremely polluted with smoke from homes, thousands of small factories and thousands of vehicles on the roads. The foundry industry in Haora is part of this industrial activity. It may be mentioned that all the different industry groups are interdependent. The foundries often need the small engineering units, which help in finishing the castings produced in the foundries.

6.2.2 The Foundries
In its essential form, in a foundry, the metal ingots are melted and poured into moulds to take a desired shape. Some foundries melt pig iron and scrap iron, some others steel and steel scrap. The non-ferrous foundries melt non-ferrous metals like copper. Haora is home to all types of foundries. There are over 200 registered cast iron foundries, in addition to an estimated 300 unregistered ones. Together they account for a production of nearly 600,000 tonnes of cast iron annually. In addition, there are innumerable non-ferrous foundries, which are mostly cottage scale units. It is difficult to even attempt an estimation of the production in these non-ferrous foundries. There are also a few steel foundries, but the units are more organized. All the steel foundries use electrical energy for melting the metal. A few cast iron foundries, particularly the large and organized ones, use electrical energy. However, most of the smaller cast iron foundries as well as the non-ferrous foundries use coke for melting. The problem associated with pollution in processes using electrical energy is relatively very less. However, the units using coke cause considerable air pollution. The level of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the air is very high as well as the emissions of other gases such as sulfur dioxide, typical problems associated with combustion of coke. The details of the process of producing castings are given in Annex 6.1.

6.2.3 The Pollution Problem
Although foundries have existed in this region for decades, the pollution problem is believed to have come into focus due to developments in the city of Agra (about 2,000 km north-west of Kolkata), the site of the famous Taj Mahal. There has been a great deal of concern in the last few years, about the danger posed to the



monument, by industrial pollution. Many causes were identified for the gradual yellowing of the white marble with which the Taj Mahal is constructed. Among the possible causes was the pollution caused by the numerous cast iron foundries in the city. Public interest petitions were filed in the law courts, which started taking serious note of the pollution problem. The Supreme Court took special interest in these cases, which attracted the attention of the whole country. With this, the pollution caused by the foundries came into sharp focus and the pollution control authorities kept a close vigil on the operations of the foundries. The authorities work hard to ensure, that the foundries stay within the specified emission standards. This concern about the foundries is believed to have extended to other places such as Haora. Since Haora was such a major center of foundries, the units here were the most affected, particularly the over 500 cast iron foundries. The authorities were reported to be less harsh on the non-ferrous foundries as most of them are too small and belong to the cottage sector, although these units were also major polluters. Hence, for purposes of this case study, the discussion is restricted to the coke-based cast iron foundries. The pollution from foundries is essentially associated with the combustion of coke. Most of the foundries have installed dry gas cleaning systems, which are available in the country. Along with installation of gas cleaning system, some of the foundries have changed over to divided blast systems, which have improved the coke-metal ratio from 1:4 to 1:9. Gaseous emissions have reduced due to the lower quantity of coke used, as well as the installation of the gas cleaning systems.

6.2.4 The Ambience in a Foundry
The level of dust in a typical foundry is extremely high. In addition to the tropical heat in Haora, the heat from the process makes the foundry very warm. Many of the workers wear minimum clothing, often no footwear and do not use any safety equipment. These workers scurry around the foundry, manually carrying hot molten metal in crude ladles to pour into the moulds. One false move could maim the worker for life.
Molten metal being handled in a foundry in Haora



6.2.5 The Business Climate
As mentioned earlier, the industry in this region has suffered from the economic decline in the state. New foundries have been set up at many other industrial growth centers in India, such as Jullunder in Punjab or Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The engineering industries, which are the major buyers of castings, preferred to source their castings from foundries nearby, both to save on transportation costs as well as to have better and easier interaction with the supplier. This resulted in lack of orders for the foundries in Haora. This also resulted in the foundries in Haora concentrating on the manufacture of standard products like manhole covers for the domestic and export markets. The profit margins on castings supplied to the engineering industry are much better than those on standard products. A few (very few) foundries in Haora, which operate with better levels of technology, have managed to retain their clientele for high precision, high priced castings and supply their products all over the country. The majority of the foundries, though, fiercely compete in an extremely price sensitive market for standard products. Hence, their operating margins are wafer-thin. It was widely felt that the industrialized nations were now choosing to source their general-purpose castings from developing countries, because of the higher cost of production in the developed countries caused by adherence to their strict emission standards. India was competing with countries like China and Taiwan in this business. In the last few years, in addition to problems associated with margins and markets, the industry has had to grapple with pressure from the West Bengal Pollution Control Board. Under pressure from the Board, most of the foundries have set up pollution control equipment, mainly to deal with particulate emissions. The industry, according to their representative association, is holding discussions with the state government, to consider the possibility of shifting the industry to a less populated area about 100 kilometers away. All the foundries in the region are members of the Indian Foundry Association, which is the representative body of the industry. The Association also assists the industry in the procurement of its requirements of pig iron. Most of the membership is corporate. The Indian Foundrymen’s Association has as its members, individuals who work in the industry and could include persons employed in foundries.



6.3 Approach to the Study
A very approximate Resource Flow Analysis was attempted for the industry as a whole, in order to assist in setting priorities. The steps that were taken to get a quick assessment were:

• Study a small number of foundries (who were willing to cooperate with the team) to understand the typical material flows per ton of production • Gather information about the total number, types and sizes of foundries in the region, through discussions with the Indian Foundry Association as well as with other Government departments • Find a suitable method to extrapolate the material flow data gathered from the few foundries over the entire industry
It was realized that the estimates that would be generated would not be very accurate. However, this was attempted as a first step to understanding the issues of concern in the industry. The data collection was quite a challenge, as is usual with the small industry in India. In fact, even to get a comprehensive list of foundries in the region, along with their capacities of production was extremely difficult, as many of the foundries are not registered with any statutory authorities. However, the lists collected from the Foundry Association as well as from a few statutory authorities were crosschecked. With the cooperation of a sample of 8 foundries, a fact sheet about the process and the flow of materials (per unit production) was prepared.

6.3.1 The Process
Pig iron, cast iron scrap and coke are charged from the top of a cupola, which could be typically a cylindrical tower about 10 meters high and 1 meter in diameter. Some limestone is also added as a flux. The coke performs the double role of a fuel for combustion as well as a reducing agent. Molten metal is tapped out of the bottom of the cupola, which is collected manually in ladles and poured into the



ready moulds. Slag, which is a glass-like blackish substance, is separated and dumped in the vicinity. The material consumption in a typical foundry is shown in Figure 6.1. In order to identify and set priorities, it was necessary to consider if any of these is a scarce resource in the region. As can be seen from this figure, the major resources flowing through a foundry are the metal, coke, electrical energy and water. All these are abundant in the region. Only two resources were considered worthy of serious study. One was electrical energy, which is scarce for the country as a whole and the other was coke, which was the cause of the pollution problem.

6.3.2 Extrapolation for the Foundry Industry in Haora
On extrapolation, the indicative consumption of materials and energy in the industry were as under (Table 6.1) for a total annual production of 2 million tonnes of finished castings.

Table 6.1: Material and Energy Consumption in the Foundries in Haora Raw Materials + Other Inputs Pig Iron (tonnes) Purchased Scrap (tonnes) Coke (tonnes) Limestone (tonnes) Electrical Energy (kWh) Industry Consumption: Annual 800,000 1,320,000 320,000 110,000 30,000,000

6.3.3 The Importance of Energy
To understand the importance of the total energy component in the operations of a foundry, a rough costing of the casting operations was carried out. The average direct cost of production per tonne of finished casting was as shown in Table 6.2.



F I G U R E 6.1

Resource Flows in Cast Iron Foundry
˜ ˜

Pig Iron 400 kg Scrap Iron 660 kg ˜ Plant Recycles 100 kg ˜ Coke 160 kg ˜ Limestone 55 kg ˜ Electrical Energy 15 kWh



Slag 60 kg ˜ Cyclone Dust 4 kg ˜ Volatiles 112 kg + Sand, Refractories, etc.

1 Tonne Finished Casting

As is evident from the cost of production, energy by itself is not an important element of cost in a cast iron foundry and accounts for just about 0.5% of the total direct cost of production as against 6.5% for labor and over 80% for raw material. Thus, just the concept of reducing the energy cost in the operations is not likely to have great appeal to the foundry managers.



Hence, the issue of coke became the center of attention, only because it was the root cause of the pollution problem.

Table 6.2: Average Direct Cost of Production in a Foundry in Haora Raw Materials + Other Inputs Pig Iron Purchased Scrap Coke Limestone Electrical Energy Labor Total Production Cost Cost per tonne US$ (Ind. Rs) 72.00 (3600) 85.80 (4290) 9.60 (480) 0.88 (44) 1.20 (60) 12.50 (625) 181.98 (9099)

6.3.4 Technology Developments and its Impact
In addition to setting up traditional effluent treatment systems, as has been explained earlier, one of the options being explored by many interest groups was the possibility of replacing the use of coke with natural gas. The National Metallurgical Laboratory, a premier research institution in Kolkata, has developed technology for converting the traditional foundries to use natural gas. It is expected that this technology will be commercially marketable very shortly. This would completely eliminate the problem of high particulate matter in the effluent and would also probably ease the housekeeping in the foundries, as the level of dust would reduce. This development could create unexpected difficulties for the Haora foundries. Once this new technology was available, the pollution control authorities would insist that the foundries switch over to it. However, natural gas is not easily available locally and transporting gas from other regions could render the process uneconomical. In regions like the west of India, where natural gas is freely available, this technology could be extremely attractive.



If the use of coke is to be eliminated from the foundries in Haora, it may be necessary to consider options other than natural gas. Ideally, the replacement material should be available in plentiful supply in the region.

6.3.5 Looking for a Cause
From the initial study it appeared that applying any concepts of Industrial Ecology would not be really relevant in the region. Energy saving systems, which many researchers were already working on, did not seem of paramount importance, as the energy cost as a portion of the total cost of production was very small. Saving water was not an issue as it is not scarce in the region and also the quantity used by the industry is not significant.

6.4 An Approach to a Solution
As a next step, it was decided to scan the major resource flows in the region, although time did not permit the team to make accurate assessments of such flows. The area borders on the coal and steel belt of India. The neighboring region is home to some of the largest coal and steel producing units and other related industries. A study of the major industries in the region revealed the existence of many independent coke ovens. In this process, coal is combusted under controlled conditions so that the resultant coal (called coking coal) is devoid of many volatile substances. This is done to make it more suitable for use in metallurgical processes. This process yields coke oven gas as a by-product. This gas is often wasted when there is no user process in the vicinity. Where such coke ovens are associated with steel plants, the coke oven gases are used in the process of steel making. The study team felt that if natural gas can be used in the process, then it should be possible to use the coke oven gases.

Composition of Coke Oven Gas
Raw coke oven gas coming from the coke oven battery has the following typical composition (Table 6.3).



Table 6.3: Composition of Coke Oven Gas Constituent Water Vapor Hydrogen Methane Nitrogen Carbon Monoxide Carbon Dioxide Hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, etc.) Dry Basis — 55% 25% 10% 6% 3% 2% Actual Composition (water saturated at 176°F) 47% 29% 13% 5% 3% 2% 1%

Source: Mick Platts, Thysenkrupp Encoke, USA, American Iron and Steel Institute.

The calorific values of different fuels are given in Table 6.4, which shows that coke oven gas with its good calorific value can be a substitute for coal or natural gas.

6.4.1 Further Action
Although this is a possible strategy option for the industry, the matter requires further consideration. Development work needs to be initiated to find ways of economically using this gas in the existing cupolas, so that the conversion cost to the industry is the minimum. Additional research also has to be undertaken to evaluate any other possible health risks possibly posed by process emissions arising from the use of coke oven gas. If a process is developed by which the coke oven gas can be used in the foundries, the industry could have a steady supply of cheap raw material, which is a waste product from another process—an ideal application of Industrial Ecology principles. If coke oven gas can be used economically in the foundries, then another question needs to be addressed. That is, is it cheaper and more practical to shift the foundries to the source of the coke oven gas or is it better to transport the coke oven gases to the foundries (either through pipelines or through tankers)?



Table 6.4: Estimated Average Gross Calorific Values of Fuels
GJ per tonne COAL All consumers (weighted average) (1) Power stations (1) Coke ovens (1) Low temperature carbonization plants and manufactured fuel plants Collieries Agriculture Iron and steel Other industries (weighted average) Non-ferrous metals Food, beverages and tobacco Chemicals Textiles, clothing, leather etc. Paper, printing etc. Mineral products Engineering (mechanical and electrical engineering and vehicles) Other industries 27.0 25.9 30.5 30.3 29.8 29.0 29.4 26.7 24.9 9.3 27.1 30.0 28.8 28.5 RENEWABLE RESOURCES Domestic wood (2) Industrial wood (3) Straw Poultry litter Meat and bone General industrial waste Hospital waste Municipal solid waste (4) Refuse derived waste (4) Short rotation coppice (5) Tires PETROLEUM Crude oil (weighted average) Petroleum products (weighted average) Ethane GJ per tonne 10.0 11.9 15.0 8.8 18.6 16.0 14.0 9.5 18.5 10.6 32.0

45.7 45.8 50.7

29.3 30.5

Domestic House coal Anthracite and dry steam coal Other consumers Imported coal (weighted average) Exports (weighted average) Coke (including low temperature carbonisation cokes) Coke breeze Other manufactured solid fuel

30.9 33.9 9.2 28.0 32.1 29.8

24.8 30.6

Butane and propane (LPG) 49.4 Light distillate feedstock for gasworks 47.6 Aviation spirit and wide cut gasoline 47.3 Aviation turbine fuel 46.2 Motor spirit 47.1 Burning oil 46.2 Gas/diesel oil (DERV) 45.6 Fuel oil 43.5 Power station oil 43.5 Non-fuel products (notional value) 42.8 MJ per cubic meter Natural gas (6) 39.8 Coke oven gas 18.0 Blast furnace gas 3.0 Landfill gas 38.6 Sewage gas 38.6
their gas bills. Note: The above estimated average gross calorific values apply only to the year 2001.The calorific values for coal other than imported coal are based on estimates provided by the main coal producers. The calorific values for petroleum products have been calculated using the method described in Digest of UK Energy Statistics, Chapter 1, paragraph 1.27. The calorific values for coke oven gas and blast furnace gas are provided by the Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau (ISSB). Data reported as 'thousand tonnes of oil equivalent' have been prepared on the basis of 1 tonne of oil equivalent having an energy content of 41.868 gigajoules (GJ), (1 GJ = 9.478 therms) - see notes in Digest of UK Energy Statistics, Chapter 1, paragraphs 1.24 to 1.26.

(1) Applicable to UK consumption - based on calorific value for home produced coal plus imports and, for “All consumers” net of exports. (2) Based on a 50 per cent moisture content. (3) Average figure covering a range of possible feedstock. (4) Average figure based on survey returns. (5) On an “as received” basis. On a “dry” basis 18.6 GJ per tonne. (6) The gross calorific value of natural gas can also be expressed as 10.936 kWh per cubic meter. This value represents the average calorific value seen for gas when extracted. At this point it contains not just methane, but also some other hydrocarbon gases (ethane, butane, propane). These gases are removed before the gas enters the National Transmission System for sale to final consumers. As such, this calorific value will differ from that readers will see quoted on

Source: www.dti.gov.uk/energy/inform/calvalues.pdf



6.4.2 The Conceptual Perspective
In the perspective of Industrial Ecology, the other industries in the area could be viewed as potential sources of raw materials. Instead of considering only the primary natural resources, the aim would be to understand the flows of resources and look at the wastes generated in the region as a potential source of raw materials. Hence, when a very specific sub-system (like the foundries in this case) is chosen for a study, a necessary first step is to scan the other industrial sub-systems of the region and not restrict one’s vision to the chosen sub-system (see Figure 6.2). Interrelationships between different industrial processes can have far reaching implications for the development of strategy options. Once they have been identified, such interrelationships may appear obvious in retrospect. In practice, however, systematic detection of possible cross-sectoral linkages between sectors which usually ignore each other can hardly be achieved, unless a regional resource flow analysis is done. But it is certainly worth the effort since, in addition to saving resources and decreasing pollution, new business and employment opportunities can result from mutual profitable exchanges of wastes, by-products and other resources.



F I G U R E 6.2

Interrelationship Between Different Industrial Processes in a Region

Subsystem 2

Subsystem 1


Subsystem 3

Subsystem x



Annex 6.1
The Production of Castings
The first production step for all castings takes place in the design office where ideas are converted into manufacturing drawings which guide the production team to creating the solid metal end products. The designer needs to know the specified shape and size of the final product but with metal casting, he also must know what stresses and conditions the products will have to withstand so that the correct metal can be chosen. He will need to know how many castings are needed, too. All these factors dictate which moulding techniques are chosen.

Pattern Making
Once the customer and the rest of the production team have approved the design, a pattern or model is made. This can be produced in wood, metal or plastic or from a combination of all three. In one production technique, wax is used to form the pattern. Patterns must be precise in their shape and finish, for any mistakes are reproduced in the moulds which are made from them and from which the final castings are formed. They must be made to allow for the shrinkage of the metal when it cools and they can include channels to allow metal to flow into the casting shape. From the initial pattern a prototype or production sample is usually made with which the customer can experiment to ensure that the final casting will be exactly as required.

The next manufacturing step is moulding in which the pattern is packed in a moulding material, usually some type of sand, and then removed to leave the right shape for the casting. Moulds can be made by hand, or machine. In one casting process the mould is made from a heatresistant metal . Moulds are usually made in at least two parts and for very large castings they may even start out as large holes dug into the sand floor of the foundry. Different types of sand are used for moulding with additives like water and clay and various chemicals, depending on the size of the mould and the types of metal that are being cast. One important feature of the mould is the running system which is a network of small channels that leads the molten metal down into the casting shape. The shapes and sizes of these channels



have to be carefully calculated to ensure that the molten metal does not solidify before it gets to the casting shape and to make sure that it does not flow too fast when it could wear away the mould. Many castings are designed to have cavities in them—engine blocks, for example. These voids, which have to be as accurate as the outer moulds, are made by forming their shape in moulding material. The shapes, or cores as they are known, are placed in the mould and after the molten metal has solidified, the core material is removed leaving a precisely shaped cavity behind.

When the mould is fully assembled, molten metal, at the right temperature, is carefully poured into it. The metal will be of the prescribed grade with the correct mechanical and chemical properties when it has solidified. When the casting has solidified and cooled, it is knocked out of the mould. Superfluous metal such as that which has solidified in the flow channels is removed—this clean up operation is known as fettling. Grinding and often shot blasting is then used to produce a clean finish. Some castings may also go through a series of tests, such as x-raying or pressure testing to ensure that they do not contain any unwanted cracks or flaws. The metal may also be tested to check, amongst other things, its strength, its resistance to sudden knocks, chemicals or high temperatures. This is really the last step in the casting process, but many castings require some further shaping or finishing before becoming the final engineering component. This can involve any or all of the engineering machining processes including drilling, and turning to produce the exact dimensions and features required. The casting can then be assembled with other components, often other castings, and this becomes another engineering product.

Source: www.foundryonline.com

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful