Revolutionary ironmaking process cuts both carbon and costs
The HIsarna pilot plant at Tata Steel in IJmuiden uses groundbreaking technology to convert iron ore fines and coal almost directly into liquid iron.
The furnace simplifies the blast furnace process dramatically, because it can handle fine raw materials directly without the need for agglomeration or coking.
The potential environmental and financial rewards of HIsarna are high. The energy efficient process route can reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent and the process can use more economically priced raw materials than the blast furnace.
How it was achieved
The HIsarna plant was designed, constructed in 2010 and put into operation by Tata Steel’s R&D and Engineering teams in 2011. The project was part of the international ULCOS (Ultra Low CO2 Steelmaking) programme, a joint initiative of the European steel industry. A former hot metal desulphurisation plant in IJmuiden was chosen for the pilot plant because of good rail connections and an existing baghouse with suitable capacity. Since 2011 there have been four test campaigns on the HIsarna pilot plant, each reaching greater levels of design capacity. The campaigns have confirmed that:
- the process is highly energy-efficient
- the process works using a wide variety of ore qualities as well as thermal coal
- the process can be easily stopped and started
- the quality of the iron produced in the campaigns has been in the expected range
- quality control has been demonstrated to be good
- the main furnace equipment, coolers, lances and refractories perform well
- the process can work successfully using by-products and secondary raw materials
- HIsarna hot metal can be further processed in steelmaking converters.
Not yet proven are the long-term operational and maintenance aspects of the process and equipment. So the next step (5th campaign) will be a so called “endurance test” of the pilot plant lasting about 3-6 months. The start of this campaign would be in the end of 2016.