OPTIMUM PROCESS CONDITIONS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PIG IRON BY COREX PROCESS

Ahmad Wafiq1, Ahmed Soliman1, Tarek M. Moustafa1, and A.F. Nassar1
1

Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Cairo University

Abstract
COREX process for pig iron production is a commercially proven process, and is currently considered as the main competent to blast furnace for pig iron production. COREX process consists of two reactors; the reduction shaft, and the melter-gasifier. The process involves multi-phase, multi-component, having about five raw materials, and three main products. Varying one process input can lead to operation instability and/or result in off -spec products. Macroscopic modeling is always an attractive approach for processes with such complex features. In the present paper a mathematical macroscopic process model has been developed and the Indian “Jindal” plant was taken as case study. The macroscopic model was efficient tool to determine the window of possible operation scenarios while keeping all process constraints fulfilled. The main raw material constraints are coke amount, and percentage of iron ore fines. In addition to the pig iron quality, the main products constraints are amount and compositions of reduction gases, export gas composition, and the slag‟s quality. A parametric study has been performed focusing on the freeboard zone in the melter gasifier. The effect of iron ore fines on the free board‟s temperature and export gas composition has been analyzed. The most flexible operation scenarios have been determined and summarized in an operation chart. This chart can be used for process control as a guide as it combines the controlling process variables. According to the market status, four main operation modes for COREX process have been defined; maximization of iron ore fines, minimization of fuel amount, minimization of Iron bearing materials amount, and minimization of oxygen feed amount. Including the current raw material prices, and to achieve minimum production cost, the minimum possible oxygen feed rate is economically the optimum mode of operation.

SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking, 10-13 June 2012, Luleå, Sweden

the increased environmental pressures nowadays cause a lot of problems to any investor thinking to use the blast furnace route for steel production [2]. all the reactions take place in two reactors. Sweden . COREX produces a high quality pig iron using non-coking coal and pure oxygen in an environmental-friendly process.Introduction Together with the problem of the high capital cost needed. have built a macroscopic model to predict the changes taking place on altering any of the input variables using complex mass and energy balance equations. the blast furnace has other drawbacks including the dependence on scarce coking coal as a reductant. Moreover. Kumar et al. Because of having a multi-component multi-phase system. 4 plants are utilizing COREX process for pig iron production. COREX is more flexible to variations in compositions of raw materials. and Baosteel in China (1. The reduction gas is injected from the bottom of the shaft at about 850 oC. and the low flexibility towards utilizing iron wastes as a substitute to the fresh iron ores [1].8 mtpa). The gas moves in the shaft upwards counter currently to the solid SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. The addition of coke to the melter gasifier was also a subject of many researches [4-6]. Currently. In COREX process. Luleå. Moreover. 10-13 June 2012. Among the newly developed smelting reduction processes. Posco in Korea (0. and it is insensitive to the alkali contents of the raw materials [1]. iron ore.8 mtpa).8 mtpa). previous researches focus on performing macroscopic analysis to reach better understanding of COREX process. COREX process is nearly the only competent to the blast furnace in the field of pig iron production. This chart can be used for process control as a guide as it combines the controlling process variables. The process is viable at lower production capacities. [3] have studied the effect of the cold crushing strength (CCS) of the burden on the performance of the reduction shaft. COREX process eliminates the need to coking and sintering plants conventionally used in the blast furnace route. In the present paper a mathematical macroscopic process model has been developed and t he Indian “Jindal” plant has been taken as a case study. The macroscopic model was built to determine the window of possible operation scenarios while keeping all process constraints fulfilled. pellets and fluxing materials (limestone and dolomite) are charged into RS from the top of the shaft. they studied the effect of coal size on the performance of the melter gasifier. The most flexible operation scenarios have been determined and summarized in an operation chart. the reduction shaft (RS) and melter-gasifier (MG). and assess the effect of different process parameters. and they developed a regression analysis using multiple variables to get an equation for the fuel rate. In another important research [7] Kumar et al. These plants are Saldanha Steel Works in South Africa (0. namely. Jindal South West Steel in India (2 * 0. and this copes with the gradual world shift from the integrated steel plants to smaller mini-mills. In addition.2 mtpa). COREX Process Description RS Process Description As shown in Figure 1.

and this assures cracking of all the volatiles released from coal. flux fines and some coke are continuously charged into the MG from their charging bins. The gas generated inside the MG contains fine dust particles. It is injected through the tuyeres. 10-13 June 2012. which are separated in hot gas cyclones. non-coking coal. Luleå. Changing one input variable can cause process SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. [8]. Figure 1 Process Flow Diagram of COREX Process Figure 2 Zones in MG Macroscopic Model Development COREX Process is a complex system having a lot of raw materials and 3 main products which are the hot metal. The dust collected in the cyclones is recycled back to the MG through the dust burners. where it gasifies the coal char generating CO. [8]. [8]. which is utilized for melting iron and slag and other metallurgical reactions. where the dust is combusted with secondary oxygen. The solid product is termed as direct reduced iron (DRI) and it is transported from the RS into the MG [5]. iron ore fines. [7]. [7]. Most of the combined gas is fed to the RS. The hot gases ascend upward through the char bed [5]. MG Process Description In addition to the hot DRI from the RS. Oxygen plays a vital role in COREX process for generation of heat and reduction gases. The sensible heat of the gases is transferred to the char bed.phase and exits from the shaft at around 250 oC. The temperature of the freeboard zone (shown in figure 2) is maintained between 1000 oC to 1100oC. while the excess gas is used to control the plant pressure [5]. [7]. slag and export gas. The gas from the MG is cooled to the reduction as temperature (About 850oC) by adding cooling gas as shown in figure 1. Sweden .

[9] previously published the proximate analysis and ash compositions of the coal and coke.instability. and gases). For the complex pyrolysis phenomenon. From the operating experiences in Jindal plant. and LD slag. the compositions and amounts of flux fines. Strezov et al. The main reactions taking place in the MG are [11]. The temperatures of all the fresh inputs are about 25 oC [7]. Each of the 2 reactors involved (RS and MG) has one of its feeds emerging from the other reactor. the final melting temperature and latent heat of melting of slag has been got from the work of Matousek [13]. The flux fines comprise limestone. Consequently. iron ore fines. temperatures and latent heats. and composition of the hot metal product. and can also result in off-spec products. [10] published a famous research determining the compositions of the different functional groups for various coal types. slag. Luleå. In their microscopic model for the MG. The latter paper has been used in this model to determine the compositions of different volatiles in coal and coke. [12] experimentally determined the heat of pyrolysis at its different stages for more than one coal type. Consequently. Solomon et al. flux fines. Macroscopic Balance on MG In the MG there are 6 raw materials (DRI. a macroscopic model based upon simultaneous solution of the material and energy balances on the 2 reactors has been developed. 10-13 June 2012.175 between the primary and secondary oxygen. all the input data will be originated from the published information about this plant. and this ratio has been used in this work.5 O2 C + CO2 C + H2O CO + Fe2O3 H2 + Fe2O3 CO + FeO H2 + FeO CaCO3 CaCO3. coal and coke. composition of iron ore. Kumar et al. dolomite. Pal and Lahiri [11] used a ratio of 0. primary and secondary oxygen) and 3 products (hot metal “HM ”. The present work will use the data of Jindal Vijayanagar Steel Limited (JVSL) in India as a case study. Sweden .MgCO3 2 CO (MnO) + [C] (SiO2) + 2 [C] (P2O5) + 5 [C] 2 (MnO) + [Si] (CaO) + [S] + [C] CO 2 CO CO + H2 CO2 + 2 FeO H2O + 2 FeO CO2 + Fe H2O + Fe CaO + CO2 CaO + MgO + 2 CO 2 C + CO2 [Mn] + CO [Si] + 2 CO 2[P] + 5 CO (SiO2) + 2[Mn] (CaS) + CO (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. The data required to perform energy balance on the MG are simply the heats of reactions. In addition. A degree of freedom analysis has been applied in order to determine the feasibility of solution and the required information. and the tapping temperature of HM and slag is about 1470oC [11]. [14]: C + 0. The research finding has been used in this macroscopic model.

10-13 June 2012.CH4 Macroscopic Balance on RS C (dust) + 2 H2 (16) In the RS. there are 3 raw materials (Iron ore. 8 and 9 shown above. The same technique applied in the MG is repeated here. 6. Figure 3 and Figure 4 show another type of input data which are the raw materials constraints and products constraints respectively. Process Constraints In addition to the well-defined givens stated above. Luleå. 5. The main reactions taking place in the RS are reactions 4. flux and reduction gases) and 2 products which are DRI and gases. Sweden . 7. Figure 3 Raw material constraints for the process Figure 4 Products constraints for the process SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking.

it becomes easy to perform the parametric study. This is attributed to the increased amount of CO converted to CO 2 as a result of the iron fines reduction in the MG's free board. In each run. all the process constraints have been fulfilled. at nearly constant degree of metallization in RS. Several simulation runs have been conducted. Parametric Study Using the Developed Macroscopic Model The effect of the main operational parameters is very important for better understanding of the process. Sweden . however only one solution will be the optimum. as percentage of ore fines increases. This is achieved by conducting a parametric study. This can be attributed to the increased heat load needed to preheat the ore fines. beside the endothermic nature of the iron ore reduction (note that the heat supply is constant because of the constant amount of oxygen). the parametric study has been performed on the freeboard zone in the MG as it is considered the real process innovation. as percentage ore fines increase at constant oxygen amount. it is apparent that as percentage ore fines increase at constant exit dome temperature. It is to be noted that high composition of CO 2 in the export gas lowers its SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. it is apparent that at constant fuel amount and flux amount. and at the same time maintain the dome's temperature within the needed range. Luleå. and the results can be shown as curves. These data could be regarded as constraints that should be fulfilled to assure true solution. the dome's exit temperature decreases. Conversely. Oxygen Amount in Nm3/Ton Ore 555 550 545 540 535 530 0 1 2 3 4 5 T = 1100 C T= 1075 C T= 1050 C T=1025 C T=1000 C % Ore Fines Figure 5 Effect of iron ore fines on the dome‟s temperature and oxygen consumption As shown in Figure 6.Because of the system complexity and the difficulty of assuring constant compositions of the raw materials and products. From Figure 5. 10-13 June 2012. In this work. This parameter was specifically chosen so as to assess its effect as an additive to the freeboard zone (referred to late r herein as „dome‟) in the MG. the composition of CO 2 in the export gas increases. there will be infinite number of solutions for the combined MG and RS balance. The parameter that has been changed in the different runs was chosen to be the percentage of iron ore fines added to the MG. This is attributed to the increased heat load needed to preheat and reduce the ore fines. After building the macroscopic model as shown in the previous steps. it is normal to have some data in the form of a range of feasible values. From a “Degree of Freedom” perspective. the amount of needed oxygen increases.

5 4 4. SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. the curve corresponding to fuel amount of 935 kg/THM has no operation points at 4% ore fines. 10-13 June 2012. This diagram combines the most important process variables which are the oxygen and fuel amount. the total amount of iron bearing materials increase accordingly. Sweden .365 0.5 1 1. increasing percen tage ore fines beyond a certain value will not achieve all the process constraints. the addition of ore fines should take into consideration the dome's temperature. one or more of the process constraints will be violated.375 % CO2 out of RS 0. Thus.5 2 2. For certain amount of charged fuel (coal + coke). Then.calorific value. and on the energy and environmental efficiency of the process. and especially for this complex system. For example.355 0. large amount of coal volatiles are produced causing temperature drop in the dome. Luleå. At lower amounts of fuel. 1530 Iron Bearing Materials in kg/THM 1520 1510 1500 1490 1480 1470 1460 0 0. In this case. Moreover.37 0. and it is also difficult to reach high exit dome temperature. and excessive amount of reduction gases. can be concluded. and the dome's exit temperature. and its effect of the cracking of volatiles. as the amount of iron ore fines increase.345 Figure 6 Effect of iron ore fines on the composition of export gas and total amount of iron bearing materials Determination of the Most Flexible Operation Scenarios During operation. This diagram has been created by performing several runs on the developed model. percentage ore fines.36 0. The latter means that on using 4% ore fines. From the diagram. It is to be also noted that the chosen scenarios in Figure 7 are the most flexible. In addition. the amount of ore fines to be added can be determined. the process engineers should have a degree of insight to the process. At higher amount of fuel. and consequently the environmental impacts. its effect on the feed amount of oxygen.5 % Ore Fines 3 3. it is difficult to utilize iron ore fines. this simplified parametric study has clarified that the ore fines can be use d as a temperature control parameter for the free board where excessive temperatures can be prevented. purging of some gases is essential which is of course bad energy utilization. Moreover. and consequently affects the performance of the dependent facilities. and its effect on the subsequent applicatio ns. represented in the dome's exit temperature. it is easy to know that at certain fuel amount. This can be achieved by having a diagram like that shown in Figure 7. the addition of ore fines should take into consideration the composition of export gas produced.35 0.5 Iron Bearing Materials in kg/THM % CO2 out of RS 0. and because of having lower iron percent than the iron ore pellets.

Sweden .Figure 7 Most flexible operation scenarios developed by the macroscopic model SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. 10-13 June 2012. Luleå.

and in addition it should take into consideration the dome's temperature. However. Thus. and with the objective to achieve the minimum production cost. it should take into consideration the composition of export gas produced. and its effect on the subsequent applications. where the minimization of oxygen feed amount was found to be the SCANMET IV – 4th International Conference on Process Development in Iron and Steelmaking. To deal with such complex features. and this of course will affect the environmental performance of the facility. and the developed macroscopic model has been used to determine the values of the corresponding main process variables. macroscopic modeling approach has been applied using Jindal plant data. and its effect on the cracking of volatiles. Sometimes.9 1528 957 544.Determination of the Best Operation Modes The iron and steel market is subjected to a lot of changes in terms of its raw material prices. 10-13 June 2012. it should be noted that this is the optimized mode with regards to the production cost minimization. and achieving the environmental constraints. Consequently. This temperature may be not enough for the cracking of all the evolved coal volatiles. the best operation mode for COREX process should be defined. a) Mode 1: Maximization of iron ore fines utilization b) Mode 2: Minimization of fuel amount c) Mode 3: Minimization of iron bearing materials amount d) Mode 4: Minimization of oxygen feed amount Table 1 Main process variables corresponding to the main modes of operation Main Variables 1) % Ore Fines 2) Iron Bearing Materials in kg/THM 3) Fuel Amount in kg/THM 4) O2 Amount in Nm3/THM 5) Dome Exit Temperature in oC Mode 1 4. Sweden .5 1000 Mode 2 0 1454 907 532 1100 Mode 3 0 1452 932 531 1038 Mode 4 0 1454 907. Table 1 summarizes the results. there are four main operation modes for COREX process. however. According to the market status. The high consumption of pure oxygen is a characteristic in COREX process. The developed macroscopic model has proved that there is a wide range of operation reflecting the process flexibility.5 513. this mode of operation may not be applied in case of stringent environmental pressures. Conclusions COREX process is a multi-phase. the environmental pressures may be stronger. Luleå. multi-component system where varying one process input can lead to operation instability and/or result in off-spec products. the dome's exit temperature corresponding to oxygen feed minimization is only 1000oC.5 1000 Determination of the Optimum Mode of Operation Regarding the current raw material prices. For example. The following four operation modes have been chosen. The most flexible operation scenarios can be determined and summarized in a chart to be used in the process control as a guide. the optimum mode of operation was found to be the minimization of oxygen feed amount. for every market status. The direct addition of ore fines inside the melter-gasifier can be used as a temperature control parameter for the free board so as to prevent excessive temperature increase.

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