Sustainable Steel Industry: Energy and Resource Efficiency, Low-Emissions and Carbon-Lean Production

A special issue of Metals (ISSN 2075-4701).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 58998

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, TeCIP Institute, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Interests: steelmaking; industrial sustainability; environmental impact
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The three pillars of sustainability as represented by environment, economy, and society in the steel industry are directly connected to the efficient and effective management of energy and resources, such as raw materials, by-products, and water.

Optimal energy management is crucial to minimize environmental impact and maximize revenues through the orchestration of processes, the optimized exploitation of available energy sources, including process off-gases, when available, and waste energy as well as optimal interaction with the energy market. This aspect also enables the achievement of interesting benefits related to decreasing CO2 emissions. Moreover, relevant benefits can be achieved through the implementation of novel technology for replacement of fossil C-sources and fuels by activating the leverages of Carbon Direct Avoidance (CDA).

By-products coming from iron and steelmaking processes can be internally recycled and reused, due to their content of valuable elements. Synergies with other sectors are being explored through the implementation of Circular Economy platforms to approach the “zero-waste” goal by promoting the use of by-products outside the steelmaking cycle, according to the concept of industrial symbiosis. In a similar manner, advanced water management, treatment systems and technology have a huge potential in improving water reuse and recycling as well as to lower water emissions.

This Special Issue aims at covering a broad range of tools, technologies, and experiences related to improving the sustainability of steel production. Based on the previous topics, full papers, communications and reviews are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Valentina Colla
Dr. Teresa Annunziata Branca
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Modelling and simulation tools for improving energy and resource efficiency
  • Advanced system for optimal management of energy sources (e.g., off-gases, electrical energy)
  • Emissions monitoring and control systems
  • New technologies for lowering consumption of fossil C-sources and fossil fuels
  • Internal and external recycling of other solid by-products (e.g., sludge, dust, mill scale)
  • Reuse, recycling, and recovery of iron and steel slags
  • Industrial Symbiosis: by-products processing and reuse in other sectors
  • Wastewater management
  • Reduction of by-products production and disposal in landfill
  • Environmentally-driven economy platforms
  • circular economy, and industrial symbiosis

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 170 KiB  
Editorial
Sustainable Steel Industry: Energy and Resource Efficiency, Low-Emissions and Carbon-Lean Production
by Valentina Colla and Teresa Annunziata Branca
Metals 2021, 11(9), 1469; https://doi.org/10.3390/met11091469 - 16 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2221
Abstract
The three pillars of sustainability represented by the environment, economy and society in the steel manufacturing industry are directly connected to the efficient and effective management of resources, such as energy, raw materials, by-products and water [...] Full article

Research

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13 pages, 5396 KiB  
Article
Effect of MgO Content on Heat Capacity of Synthetic BF Slag and Heat Release Behavior during Cooling Process
by Yanhua Yang, Ting Lei and Yuelin Qin
Metals 2021, 11(8), 1294; https://doi.org/10.3390/met11081294 - 16 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1755
Abstract
The differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) sapphire analysis was used to measure the specific heat capacity of the BF (BF) slag and observe the CaO-SiO2-MgO-Al2O3-TiO2 5-element slag system with the binary basicity fixed at 1.17. The specific [...] Read more.
The differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) sapphire analysis was used to measure the specific heat capacity of the BF (BF) slag and observe the CaO-SiO2-MgO-Al2O3-TiO2 5-element slag system with the binary basicity fixed at 1.17. The specific heat capacity of the BF slag and the cooling heat distribution were obtained during the cooling process when the MgO content changing from 7% to 11%. The results showed that the heat released of BF slag was more than 1.2 GJ/ton during the cooling process from 1400 °C to 35 °C, of which the sensible heat was dominant. At MgO content of 9%, the latent heat of crystallization is maximum. The cooling and heat release law of BF slag is directly associated with the phase precipitated in slag cooling and micromorphology. Full article
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12 pages, 907 KiB  
Article
MEROS Dust Quality of Different Plants and Its Potential Further Uses
by Claudia Hledik, Martin Goetz, Franz Ottner and Maria Fürhacker
Metals 2021, 11(5), 840; https://doi.org/10.3390/met11050840 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2459
Abstract
Sintering is a process of agglomeration of fine particles into porous sinters for blast furnaces. During the sintering process, high volumes of sinter plant gas containing high loads of dust, SO2 and NOX and toxic pollutants, such as heavy metals (e.g., [...] Read more.
Sintering is a process of agglomeration of fine particles into porous sinters for blast furnaces. During the sintering process, high volumes of sinter plant gas containing high loads of dust, SO2 and NOX and toxic pollutants, such as heavy metals (e.g., Hg, Pb, Cr and Cd) and PCDD/F, are emitted. The objective of this study was to characterize dusts of different plants as the basis for suggestions of reutilization and treatment options. Dusts, eluates and residues were produced and DOC, T-N, ions and heavy metals were analyzed. The results show that dusts from different plants are very similar in terms of DOC, T-N, Mg, Ca and many heavy metals and only differ in criteria such as suspended solids and ions such as K, Na, Cl and SO4. Based on the high levels of alkalis and low levels of iron, direct recycling into the sinter or furnace process is not recommended. The dissolution of the soluble substances in water reduces the MEROS dust by 90% of the weight and extracts the alkalis. The remaining wastewater needs to be treated to reduce DOC, T-N and some heavy metals. The solid residues can be recycled into the sinter to reduce potential PCDD/F, which are attached to the activated carbon. Full article
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15 pages, 6944 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of the Physical, Chemical and Environmental Properties of Ladle Furnace Slag for Their Utilization as Filler in Bituminous Mixtures
by Juan María Terrones-Saeta, Jorge Suárez-Macías, Francisco Javier Iglesias-Godino and Francisco Antonio Corpas-Iglesias
Metals 2021, 11(3), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/met11030466 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1507
Abstract
The construction sector is one of the most demanding sectors for materials that exist today. Therefore, in order to avoid the extraction of new raw materials, it is necessary to use waste. This waste must present a series of physical and chemical characteristics [...] Read more.
The construction sector is one of the most demanding sectors for materials that exist today. Therefore, in order to avoid the extraction of new raw materials, it is necessary to use waste. This waste must present a series of physical and chemical characteristics that make it suitable for its employment. Therefore, in this investigation, ladle furnace slag is characterized for use as filler in bituminous mixtures. These slags are produced by the metallurgical industry in large quantities and represent a significant environmental problem. The slags were tested by analyzing their chemical composition and elementary physical properties. At the same time, and in order to evaluate the environmental viability, the environmental affections produced by the treatment of this material for its use as filler were calculated. These environmental results were compared with those obtained by processing of conventional filler. The detailed methodology reflected the chemical and physical feasibility of ladle furnace slags for use as filler, as well as the environmental advantage of processing this waste compared to commercial materials. In this way, the suitability of ladle furnace slags for bituminous mixtures and its feasibility for the creation of more sustainable pavements was assessed. Full article
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13 pages, 3179 KiB  
Article
Numerical Investigation of Blast Furnace Operation with Scrap Charging
by Zhu Liu, Zi Yu, Xuefeng She, Huiqing Tang and Qingguo Xue
Metals 2020, 10(12), 1666; https://doi.org/10.3390/met10121666 - 13 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2499
Abstract
One approach to reduce CO2 emission in the steelmaking industry is to recycle scrap to the blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace (BF/BOF) production system. This paper performed a numerical investigation on the BF operation with scrap charging. The investigated BF was with an [...] Read more.
One approach to reduce CO2 emission in the steelmaking industry is to recycle scrap to the blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace (BF/BOF) production system. This paper performed a numerical investigation on the BF operation with scrap charging. The investigated BF was with an inner volume of 820 m3, producing 2950 tons of hot metal per day (tHM/d). The simulated results indicated the following: Extra scrap addition in BF causes the decrease of shaft temperature, the decrease of local gas utilization, and the lowering of cohesive zone position, leading to an unstable BF running. The partial replacement of sinter with scrap in BF can mitigate the negative effects induced by scrap charging. The optimal scrap rate in the BF is 178 kg/tHM, under which the BF reaches a productivity of 3310 tHM/d, a top-gas utilization of 48.5%, and a top-gas temperature of 445 K. Compared to the base case, in the BF operation with scrap charging, the BF productivity is increased by 360 kg/tHM, its pulverized-coal rate and coke rate are decreased by 16.3 kg/tHM and 39.8 kg/tHM, respectively. Full article
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24 pages, 6040 KiB  
Article
Renewable Hydrogen Production Processes for the Off-Gas Valorization in Integrated Steelworks through Hydrogen Intensified Methane and Methanol Syntheses
by Antonella Zaccara, Alice Petrucciani, Ismael Matino, Teresa Annunziata Branca, Stefano Dettori, Vincenzo Iannino, Valentina Colla, Michael Bampaou and Kyriakos Panopoulos
Metals 2020, 10(11), 1535; https://doi.org/10.3390/met10111535 - 18 Nov 2020
Cited by 32 | Viewed by 5410
Abstract
Within integrated steelmaking industries significant research efforts are devoted to the efficient use of resources and the reduction of CO2 emissions. Integrated steelworks consume a considerable quantity of raw materials and produce a high amount of by-products, such as off-gases, currently used [...] Read more.
Within integrated steelmaking industries significant research efforts are devoted to the efficient use of resources and the reduction of CO2 emissions. Integrated steelworks consume a considerable quantity of raw materials and produce a high amount of by-products, such as off-gases, currently used for the internal production of heat, steam or electricity. These off-gases can be further valorized as feedstock for methane and methanol syntheses, but their hydrogen content is often inadequate to reach high conversions in synthesis processes. The addition of hydrogen is fundamental and a suitable hydrogen production process must be selected to obtain advantages in process economy and sustainability. This paper presents a comparative analysis of different hydrogen production processes from renewable energy, namely polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis, solid oxide electrolyze cell electrolysis, and biomass gasification. Aspen Plus® V11-based models were developed, and simulations were conducted for sensitivity analyses to acquire useful information related to the process behavior. Advantages and disadvantages for each considered process were highlighted. In addition, the integration of the analyzed hydrogen production methods with methane and methanol syntheses is analyzed through further Aspen Plus®-based simulations. The pros and cons of the different hydrogen production options coupled with methane and methanol syntheses included in steelmaking industries are analyzed. Full article
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13 pages, 1071 KiB  
Article
OXYFINES Technique for Upgrading Zinc Containing Blast Furnace Sludge—Part 2: System Analysis
by Katarina Lundkvist, Sara Rosendahl, Fredrik Nyman, Kristofer Bölke, Lennart Gustavsson, Daniel Söderström and Anita Wedholm
Metals 2020, 10(11), 1471; https://doi.org/10.3390/met10111471 - 04 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1818
Abstract
Integrating novel technology in production systems for the upgrading and further use of residual materials is a potential way of improving the resource efficiency. Assessing technology integration prospects, by performing system analysis, assists in the forecasting of effects and opportunities for different concepts. [...] Read more.
Integrating novel technology in production systems for the upgrading and further use of residual materials is a potential way of improving the resource efficiency. Assessing technology integration prospects, by performing system analysis, assists in the forecasting of effects and opportunities for different concepts. Based on pilot trials results, using Linde’s OXYFINES technique for upgrading zinc containing blast furnace sludge, a system analysis was performed on the prospects of integrating an OXYFINES concept in an iron and steel production route. The calculations were made based on one option for a full-scale OXYFINES concept for indicating the effects on the blast furnace zinc load, raw material consumption, energy use and carbon dioxide emissions from using the OXYFINES sinter product as a raw material in blast furnace ironmaking or in the basic oxygen furnace steelmaking. The summarised system analysis results showed that the most advantageous metallurgical, environmental, and economic potential was realised in the calculations of using the sinter in the basic oxygen furnace. However, the sinter was found as well suitable for use in the blast furnace when considering mainly the metallurgical and the economic effects. Full article
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13 pages, 3216 KiB  
Article
OXYFINES Technique for Upgrading Zinc Containing Blast Furnace Sludge—Part 1: Pilot Trials
by Katarina Lundkvist, Sara Rosendahl, Fredrik Nyman, Kristofer Bölke, Lennart Gustavsson, Daniel Söderström and Anita Wedholm
Metals 2020, 10(11), 1468; https://doi.org/10.3390/met10111468 - 04 Nov 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2377
Abstract
In the Swedish steel industry, much work is put on further increasing the recycling and use of residual materials. However, blast furnace sludge is one residual which currently, despite its valuable contents of iron and carbon, is put on landfill or long-term storage [...] Read more.
In the Swedish steel industry, much work is put on further increasing the recycling and use of residual materials. However, blast furnace sludge is one residual which currently, despite its valuable contents of iron and carbon, is put on landfill or long-term storage due to its zinc content. Linde has developed the OXYFINES technique which is suitable for upgrading of fine particulate and zinc containing materials. The material is fed to the OXYFINES burner whereby its zinc content is vaporised to a generated dust phase whereas other non-gasifiable contents, such as iron, forms an oxidic sinter phase in the bottom of the reactor. The technique has proven a high degree of zinc separation, is relatively flexible and straightforward, and does not require sludge pre-treatment such as drying. Pilot set-up and trials, using the OXYFINES technique, were performed at Swerim’s research facility. In the trials, the effects from altering different process parameters were tested aiming to develop an optimal concept for upgrading the blast furnace sludge. The pilot trials’ results showed the required process settings to attain a high degree of zinc separation from the sludge, and to generate an iron oxide product, suitable for straightforward charging to the steelmaking process. Full article
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14 pages, 3172 KiB  
Article
Relationship and Mechanism Analysis of Soft-Melt Dropping Properties and Primary-Slag Formation Behaviors of the Mixed Burden in Increasing Lump Ore Ratio
by Yun-Fei Li, Zhi-Jun He, Wen-Long Zhan, Wei-Guo Kong, Peng Han, Jun-Hong Zhang and Qing-Hai Pang
Metals 2020, 10(9), 1254; https://doi.org/10.3390/met10091254 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2505
Abstract
At present, cost reduction and environmental protection are the mainstream of blast furnace (BF) development and the high lump ore ratio is an effective means. Therefore, it is significant to explore the relationship and mechanism of burden soft-melt dropping and its primary-slag formation [...] Read more.
At present, cost reduction and environmental protection are the mainstream of blast furnace (BF) development and the high lump ore ratio is an effective means. Therefore, it is significant to explore the relationship and mechanism of burden soft-melt dropping and its primary-slag formation behaviors under increasing lump ore ratio. In this paper, the melt–drop test is carried out on the single ore and mixed burden, and obtained primary-slag properties are subjected to analysis. The experimental results show that the primary-slag of lump ore contains a large amount of FeO and SiO2, so it simply produces many low melting point compounds, which cause terrible soft-melt dropping properties and primary-slag formation behaviors. Notably, mixing with sinter and pellet can effectively improve both the properties. With the increase in lump ore ratio, the CaO in the primary-slag decreases, FeO and SiO2 increase, resulting in the melting temperature of the primary-slag sequentially decreasing and the cohesive zone moves to the low temperature zone. In addition, the maximum pressure difference increases, and the gas permeability deteriorates. Increasing the sinter ratio can overcome the defect of high lump ore ratio that can effectively improve the poor softening performance, melting performance and the position and thickness of the cohesive zone. However, because of the pulverization performance, the maximum pressure difference and gas permeability of the burden become worse. Full article
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Review

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23 pages, 5654 KiB  
Review
Residue Valorization in the Iron and Steel Industries: Sustainable Solutions for a Cleaner and More Competitive Future Europe
by Johannes Rieger, Valentina Colla, Ismael Matino, Teresa Annunziata Branca, Gerald Stubbe, Andrea Panizza, Carlo Brondi, Mohammadtaghi Falsafi, Johannes Hage, Xuan Wang, Bernhard Voraberger, Thomas Fenzl, Victoria Masaguer, Eros Luciano Faraci, Loredana di Sante, Filippo Cirilli, Florian Loose, Christoph Thaler, Aintzane Soto, Piero Frittella, Gianpaolo Foglio, Cosmo di Cecca, Mattia Tellaroli, Marco Corbella, Marta Guzzon, Enrico Malfa, Agnieszka Morillon, David Algermissen, Klaus Peters and Delphine Snaetadd Show full author list remove Hide full author list
Metals 2021, 11(8), 1202; https://doi.org/10.3390/met11081202 - 28 Jul 2021
Cited by 33 | Viewed by 7473
Abstract
The steel industry is an important engine for sustainable growth, added value, and high-quality employment within the European Union. It is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions due to production by up to 50% by 2030 compared to 1990′s level by developing [...] Read more.
The steel industry is an important engine for sustainable growth, added value, and high-quality employment within the European Union. It is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions due to production by up to 50% by 2030 compared to 1990′s level by developing and upscaling the technologies required to contribute to European initiatives, such as the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and the European Green Deal (EGD). The Clean Steel Partnership (CSP, a public–private partnership), which is led by the European Steel Association (EUROFER) and the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP), defined technological CO2 mitigation pathways comprising carbon direct avoidance (CDA), smart carbon usage SCU), and a circular economy (CE). CE approaches ensure competitiveness through increased resource efficiency and sustainability and consist of different issues, such as the valorization of steelmaking residues (dusts, slags, sludge) for internal recycling in the steelmaking process, enhanced steel recycling (scrap use), the use of secondary carbon carriers from non-steel sectors as a reducing agent and energy source in the steelmaking process chain, and CE business models (supply chain analyses). The current paper gives an overview of different technological CE approaches as obtained in a dedicated workshop called “Resi4Future—Residue valorization in iron and steel industry: sustainable solutions for a cleaner and more competitive future Europe” that was organized by ESTEP to focus on future challenges toward the final goal of industrial deployment. Full article
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15 pages, 594 KiB  
Review
Review on the Use of Alternative Carbon Sources in EAF Steelmaking
by Thomas Echterhof
Metals 2021, 11(2), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/met11020222 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 51 | Viewed by 14757
Abstract
Steelmaking in the electric arc furnace (EAF), either scrap-based or based on hydrogen direct reduced iron, will in future contribute substantially to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the iron and steel industry. However, there still will be the need to introduce [...] Read more.
Steelmaking in the electric arc furnace (EAF), either scrap-based or based on hydrogen direct reduced iron, will in future contribute substantially to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the iron and steel industry. However, there still will be the need to introduce carbon into the EAF process either to carburize the steel or to create foaming slag to improve the energy efficiency of the melting process. So, to reach the emission reduction goals set around the world, it will be necessary to substitute fossil charge and injection carbon used in EAF steelmaking with alternative carbon sources. This review presents the recent research on carbon-neutral biomass-based and circular rubber or plastics-based carbon sources and their potential to substitute fossil charge or injection carbon in the EAF process. It also discusses the current state-of-the art and suggests further opportunities and needs for research and development to use alternative carbon sources to produce a really green and carbon neutral and/or fully circular steel. Full article
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21 pages, 2006 KiB  
Review
Assessment of Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) Steel Slag Waste’s Recycling Options into Value Added Green Products: A Review
by Pao Ter Teo, Siti Koriah Zakaria, Siti Zuliana Salleh, Mustaffa Ali Azhar Taib, Nurulakmal Mohd Sharif, Anasyida Abu Seman, Julie Juliewatty Mohamed, Mahani Yusoff, Abdul Hafidz Yusoff, Mardawani Mohamad, Mohamad Najmi Masri and Sarizam Mamat
Metals 2020, 10(10), 1347; https://doi.org/10.3390/met10101347 - 09 Oct 2020
Cited by 41 | Viewed by 10344
Abstract
Steel slag is one of the most common waste products from the steelmaking industry. Conventional methods of slag disposal can cause negative impacts on humans and the environment. In this paper, the process of steel and steel slag production, physical and chemical properties, [...] Read more.
Steel slag is one of the most common waste products from the steelmaking industry. Conventional methods of slag disposal can cause negative impacts on humans and the environment. In this paper, the process of steel and steel slag production, physical and chemical properties, and potential options of slag recycling were reviewed. Since steel is mainly produced through an electric arc furnace (EAF) in Malaysia, most of the recycling options reviewed in this paper focused on EAF slag and the strengths and weaknesses of each recycle option were outlined. Based on the reports from previous studies, it was found that only a portion of EAF slag is recycled into more straightforward, but lower added value applications such as aggregates for the construction industry and filter/absorber for wastewater treatments. On the other hand, higher added value recycling options for EAF slag that are more complicated such as incorporated as raw material for Portland cement and ceramic building materials remain at the laboratory testing stage. The main hurdle preventing EAF slag from being incorporated as a raw material for higher added value industrial applications is its inconsistent chemical composition. The chemical composition of EAF slag can vary based on the scrap metal used for steel production. For this, mineral separation techniques can be introduced to classify the EAF slag base on its physical and chemical compositions. We concluded that future research on recycling EAF slag should focus on separation techniques that diversify the recycling options for EAF slag, thereby increasing the waste product’s recycling rate. Full article
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