You are on page 1of 10

CRISP – The Novel Hatch Compact Reduced

Iron Steelmaking Process1

Frank M. Wheeler
Yakov M. Gordon
Hatch
Sheridan Science & Technology Park
2800 Speakman Drive
Mississauga, Ontario, L5K 2R7
Canada
Tel: 905-855-7600
Fax.:905-855-8270
E-mail: igordon@hatch.ca

Key words: Continuous steelmaking, stationary arc furnace, continuous melter,


hot charging of DRI, steel plant design

INTRODUCTION

As a step towards continuous steelmaking, Hatch developed the Compact Reduced Iron Steelmaking Process
(CRISP). Conventional established technologies are close-coupled into a unique plant configuration to provide
significantly improved plant availability and energy efficiency at a lower capital cost. The key to the proposed
concept is the innovative use of a stationary six-electrode arc furnace as a continuous melter of direct reduced
iron (DRI) and scrap. Although greenfield installations would advantageously incorporate hot charging of DRI,
the concept of Hatch CRISP also allows the use of cold charge.

The CRISP technology is most relevant to steel flat products plants as this application can justify the high
portion of virgin iron units (DRI) in the charge.

The Hatch CRISP concept provides meaningful capital and operating cost savings stemming from the beneficial
features of this facility, such as:
• Continuous melting
• Extended refractory lining life
• High melting furnace availability
• Reduced electrode, power consumption, and manning
• Excellent matching of DR furnace and EAF operating schedules

These aspects of this technology are dealt with in seven sections:


1. Plant Concept
2. DR Plant and EAF Meltshop Layout

1
ISSTech. 2003 Conference Proceedings, April 27-30 , 2003, Indianapolis, Indiana, p.p. 1033-1041
3. Matching of DR Furnace and EAF Operations
4. The Metallurgy of Continuous Melting
5. Capital Cost Advantages
6. Operating Cost Benefits
7. Technology Risk Management

PLANT CONCEPT
One of key aspects of the Hatch CRISP is the use of a stationary six-electrode arc furnace as a continuous
melter. While novel to the steel industry, this type of furnace is well established in nickel and copper smelters.

The size of the brick-lined rectangular furnace, typically 9 x 27 m, can be adjusted flexibly to a given
application, allowing a bath size about 10 times the “heat” size. A major difference compared to a conventional
steelmaking arc furnace, this large bath provides a flywheel effect enabling the periodic tapping of steel while
continuing to melt the charge material – DRI and scrap. These charge materials are continuously fed into the
furnace through several feed points in the roof.

The continuous melter operates in an open-bath mode, utilizing the natural slag-foaming characteristics
associated with the continuous feed/melting of DRI. Arc power is delivered to the furnace from three single-
phase furnace transformers, each coupled with a pair of electrodes. Although total furnace power ranges from
100 to 120 MW and more, the hearth area has a power density an order of magnitude lower than conventional
steelmaking EAFs: approximately 250 kW/m2 as compared to the typical 2,000 to 2,500 kW/m2. This low
power density is one of the main factors contributing to the extended refractory life, projected at two or more
years.

As is common on stationary furnaces in other industries, metal (in our case steel) and slag are tapped
periodically from separate tap holes, typically on opposing ends of the furnace. The semi-finished steel is
transferred in ladles to a ladle metallurgical furnace (LMF) for refining and finishing after which the steel ladles
are brought to the continuous slab caster.

Thus, from the LMF on, the facility is a conventional plant. Upstream, however, the approach is novel. The
stationary arc furnace is charged directly with hot DRI from a direct reduction (DR) shaft. As discussed in detail
in Section 3, this close-coupling is greatly facilitated by the near-perfect match in operational availability of the
two process units – the DR furnace and the continuous melter.

This availability of over 8,000 hours per year also enables a high single-furnace capacity, readily in excess of
1.6 million t/yr. This also represents a good balance with the capacity of a downstream slab caster.

PLANT LAYOUT
The plant layout, shown schematically in Fig. 1*, represents a logical extension of our work on developing
concepts for hot charging of DRI. In our approach to hot charging, the DR shaft furnace is “stacked” above the
electrical arc furnace with DRI fed essentially by gravity from the reduction furnace to the EAF. In the case of
Hatch CRISP, a stationary rectangular furnace is used instead of the conventional circular tilting EAF.

Equipment proven in hot briquetting facilities is used to transfer hot DRI from the shaft furnace to the EAF.
Nitrogen or process gases create the inert atmosphere required to protect the hot material from re-oxidation.

*
The layout in Fig. 1 depicts a shaft DR furnace. The CRISP concept is equally applicable for a rotary hearth furnace. As
well, other modes of transfer of DRI, for instance pneumatic conveying, can also be incorporated.
The ability to instantaneously switch from the “hot” DRI circuit to a “cold” circuit provides operational
flexibility. The readiness of the cold circuit is maintained by a trickle flow of reduced material through the DRI
cooler. The cold DRI is directed to a storage silo to be blended in with the hot DRI or used during DR furnace
outages.

Fig. 1: Cross Section of Hatch CRISP Facility

The other charge material, scrap in amounts of up to 20% of charge, is sized to allow the continuous feeding by
conveyor to the melting furnace. This eliminates the need for a high-capacity furnace charge crane. Our
experience with the design of plants with continuously-charged stationary furnaces confirms that crane
coverage for the furnace can be limited to facilities required for electrode handling and addition. As evident
from the capital cost comparison in Table III in Section 5, this reduces not only the costs for cranes but also
provides savings related to a lighter simplified furnace building.

MATCHING OF DR FURNACE AND EAF OPERATIONS


Close-coupling of a direct reduction furnace with an EAF entails not only resolving the myriad of details of
equipment interfaces but also reconciling the differences in operating time. As seen in Table I, the continuously
operating DR furnace has an annual uptime of about 8,000 hours whereas industrial experience indicates that
even a good conventional steelmaking EAF has an actual operating time of about 7,200 hours. Furthermore, the
EAF operation is characterized by a large amount of unscheduled delays.

Simulation of the design concepts we developed for hot DRI charging has confirmed that it is possible to
overcome this approximately 800 hours difference in actual operating time through appropriate plant design.
The proposed plant layout and DRI handling circuits avoid the necessity of extensive buffer storage facilities.
Nevertheless, the basic fact remains that DR furnace is “held back” when close-coupled with a conventional
EAF.
This drawback is overcome by using a stationary arc furnace as the close-coupled continuous melter.
Commercially-operated stationary six-electrode arc furnaces typically have an annual availability of over 8,000
hours, representing a near perfect match with DR plant operations.

Table I: DR Plant and EAF Annual Time Utilization, Hours


DR Plant EAF
Total hours per year 8,760 8,760
Annual shutdown - 336 - 336
Scheduled annual operating hours 8,424 8,424
Scheduled monthly (weekly) shutdowns - 138 - 600
Net scheduled operating time 8,286 7,824
Unscheduled delays - 286 - 624
Actual Operating Time 8,000 7,200
Fig. 2: Plan View of DR Furnace and Stationary Arc Furnace Continuous Melter

This higher availability of the melting furnace translates into increased plant throughput and lower capital
investment per annual tonne of capacity. As discussed in the subsequent Section 6, it also leads to operating cost
savings.

The operational viability of the proposed arrangements was established through computer simulation using the
Arena software. Actual plant data from DR furnace and EAF operations was utilized in the simulation, which
also accurately reflected the random occurring events.

THE METALLURGY OF CONTINUOUS MELTING


The continuous melting of DRI and scrap in a stationary arc furnace to produce a semi-finished steel for flat
products stipulates a set of specific metallurgical process requirements required to support a stable continuous
operation. The three key conditions are:

• The target carbon of the tapped steel of 0.05% has to be achieved without the injection of gaseous oxygen
• The slag composition must support the slag foaming inherent to the open-bath melting of continuously fed
DRI
• The chemical and physical properties of the slag must support the objective of essentially no slag-line
refractory erosion

Obviously, fundamental slag engineering is required to meet these seemingly conflicting requirements of an
active oxidizing slag that will not erode the sidewall refractories. The opportunities afforded by the high
proportion of DRI in the charge were fully utilized.

Firstly, the current level of process control of the established gas-based direct reduction processes allows the
metallization (i.e. the amount of residual iron oxides) and the carbon content of the DRI to be set independently.
Thus, the “natural” melt-in carbon of the steel bath can be targeted through the DRI composition, while
maintaining sufficient foaming of the slag.

Secondly, the typically low sulphur and phosphorus content in the DRI means that sulphur and phosphorus
removal in the melting furnace is not a major requirement, particularly given the desulphurizing capabilities of
an LMF. Thus, there is a greater flexibility in selecting the composition of the slag as high V-ratios are not
required for sulphur and phosphorus removal.

In engineering of the slag we set out the following three parameters:


• Low CaO/SiO2 ratio to reduce the amount of FeO required in the slag for a given carbon content (Fig. 3) [1].
• The melting point of the slag close to the steel bath temperature to avoid the aggressiveness of an overly
superheated fluid slag.
• The MgO content in the slag above 10% to counteract the chemical reaction of the slag on the sidewall
refractories. The MgO content is also an important factor in manipulating the slag melting point.

A quasi-empirical method of calculation was used to determine the slag composition. The results were then
verified by slag analyses from EAF operations with continuously-charged DRI.

The slag compositions calculated for two steel carbon levels: 0.06% C and 0.10% C, are shown in Table II.
The melting point of the slag can be estimated, for instance, from the ternary FeO – CaO – SiO2 diagram.
Assuming that, CaO is the sum of CaO + MgO and SiO2 the sum of SiO2 + Al2O3. Thus, the melting point for
the slag projected of steel with 0.05% carbon is approximately 1450°C. While recognizing that the real world
multi-component slag systems are far more complex, this first approximation serves as a useful guide.

30

25

20

FeO, %
15

10

5
1.5 2 2.5 3
CaO/SiO2

0.1% C 0.06% C

Fig. 3: (FeO) in Slag as a Function of Basicity and Carbon in Steel

Table II: Calculated Slag Components as a Function of Carbon in Steel


Slag Component Steel Carbon Content, %
0.06% 0.10%
SiO2 18.0 22.6
CaO 27.5 34.7
MgO 9.7 10.0
Al2O3 9.5 12.0
FeO 32.4 17.4
Other 2.9 3.3
CaO/SiO2 Ratio 1.5 1.5

CAPITAL COST ADVANTAGES


In order to develop an understanding of the impact of the Hatch CRISP technology on the capital costs of a
plant, a cost comparison was developed for three cases:
• Conventional EAF charged with cold DRI
• Conventional EAF with hot charged DRI
• A stationary arc furnace continuously melting hot DRI

For purposes of comparison the throughput of all three plants was set at 1.25 million tonnes, the typical
maximum capacity of a conventional cold-charged EAF, even though a single stationary furnace is capable of
providing substantially more. The furnace parameters of the three cases are shown in Table III.
The differential in the capital costs of the three options is shown is Table IV. For clarity only areas impacted by
the technologies are shown; facilities with the same costs, for instance slab casting, are not included.

As evident, the CRISP technology with a continuous melter provides significant capital cost savings derived
primarily from four areas:
• Simplified scrap handling including savings from avoiding the need of a scrap charging crane
• Less extensive DRI handling circuits, primarily lower buffer storage requirements.
• Related lower building costs
• Less expensive arc furnace

Table III: Key Parameters of Melting Furnaces

Parameter Conventional EAF


Annual Production, Cold Charging Hot Charging Hatch CRISP
1.25 million t
Operating hours, h/year 7,200 7,200 8,000
DRI charging rate, t/h 191 191 172
Production rate, t liquid steel/h 172 172 155
Hearth area, m2 50 50 312
Hot heel, t 50 50 1,000 – 1,500
Power consumption, kWh/t 650 500 475
Power average/peak, MW 130/140 100/110 77.5
Power density, kW/m2 2,590 1,990 250

A plant using the full potential of a stationary continuous melter – close to 2 million tonnes per year - would be
even more attractive in terms of capital cost per annual tonne of capacity.

Table IV: Summary of Capital Cost Differential, Million US$

Conventional EAF
Hatch CRISP
Parameter Cold Charging Hot Charging
Building Costs 14.1 14.1 12.4
Cranes 3.4 3.4 0.4
DRI Material Handling 14.5 4.1 2.0
Scrap Handling 19.8 19.8 5.7
EAF Furnace (melter) 158.0 151.4 130.0
Capital Cost Savings Base Case - 17.8 60.1

Note: Only facilities impacted by technology are shown. Items with same costs are not included.

OPERATING COST BENEFITS


A comparison of the operating costs for the three cases outlined in the preceding Section 5 is presented in Table
V. Some savings in the case of Hatch CRISP are essentially the same as those with hot charging to a
conventional arc furnace as they are derived from the sensible heat in the hot DRI and the related energy
savings and reduced electrode consumption. Other significant savings are derived from the long furnace
campaigns, which translate into lower refractory, maintenance and manpower costs.
Thus, our conservative estimate indicates a savings of about $7/tonne versus a hot charged installation and near
double that when compared to a plant based on cold DRI. It should be noted that operating costs analysis is
limited to variable costs only and that the beneficial effect of increased productivity on fixed costs is not
considered. Even so, the operating cost savings of the new technology are attractive and meaningful.
TECHNOLOGY RISK MANAGEMENT
The two key questions to be addressed when introducing new technology, particularly in a capital-intensive
industry such as the steel sector, are:
• Will the technology work?
• Will the facility be profitable?

Table V: Operating Cost Comparison


Conventional EAF
Hatch CRISP
Parameter Cold Charging Hot Charging
Power, kW/t steel 650 500 475
Refractories, US$/t steel 4 4 2
Electrodes, kg/t steel 2 1.7 1.7
Manpower, man h/t steel 0.2 0.19 0.12
Maintenance, US $/t steel 4.5 4.5 2.25
Dust disposal, US $/t steel 2 2 1.5
Operating Cost Savings, US $/t steel Base case -7.15 -13.95

Note: The beneficial effect of increased productivity on fixed costs is not considered.

The results of assessing the risks of Hatch CRISP in these two areas, technology and commercial, are
summarized in Table VI. In order to manage the risks associated with this novel technology our development
program included the following mitigating activities:
• Complete process and plant design including the detailed design and layout of critical systems, for example
the hot DRI transfer circuit.
• Inclusion of proven design precedents from other steelmaking facilities (e.g. hot briquetting system) or from
other industries (e.g. stationary six-electrode furnaces in the non-ferrous industry)
• Incorporation of proprietary Hatch technologies such as the copper refractory cooling elements
• Fundamental engineering of an appropriate slag
• Testing of the operability of the plant through plant simulation which included the randomness experienced
in actual plant operation
• Building on the definition established in the above activities, development of realistic capital and operating
cost estimates.

While recognizing the work still to be done in the area of steelmaking practices and slag engineering, this
approach has brought the risks to a manageable level. The Hatch CRISP technology can be seriously considered
without the fear of failure.

Table VI: Risk Assessment of the Hatch CRISP Technology

Risk Component Status


DR process Proven
Hot DRI transfer equipment Developed from proven elements
Plant Layout Resolved
Matching of DR and EAF Understood and resolved
Six-in-line furnace design Established
100% DRI operation Practiced
Refractory Can be developed from established technologies
Risk Component Status
Continuous Feed Known precedents
Steelmaking process Preliminary development completed
Slag chemistry Under development
Capital Cost Established based on plant definition
Operating cost First estimate completed. To be updated when steelmaking procedures
finalized.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Hatch is greatly indebted to the suppliers of DR technology and facilities: HyL in Monterrey, Mexico and in
particular Midrex Corporation in Charlotte, N.C, USA, for the open discussions and exchange of information
that contributed to the development of a viable plant concept. The authors wish to express their thanks to their
colleagues – members of the multi-disciplinary team that developed Hatch CRISP: Albert Norrmalm, Peter
Blake, Clarence Nichols, Arnd Koechlin, Andy Matyas, Kevin O’Leary and John Wheeler to name but a few.

REFERENCES

1. K.G. Trubin and G.N. Oiks, “Metallurgy of Steel” (In Russian) Metallurgiya Moscow 1970,.