October 04, 2012

Second ULCOS HIsarna campaign begins at Tata Steel in IJmuiden

The second test campaign of the ULCOS HIsarna iron making project started yesterday at Tata Steel’s IJmuiden works in the Netherlands.

HIsarna, a combination of Rio Tinto’s HIsmelt technology and the Isarna technology developed at IJmuiden, represents a new, potentially more efficient way of making iron. The technology is being developed in order to substantially reduce carbon emissions from the iron making process.

Karl Köhler, MD and CEO, Tata Steel in Europe, said: “We at Tata Steel are very proud of the HIsarna project. If it succeeds, in the future, the steel industry will be able to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from iron making. HIsarna is living proof of European steelmakers’ commitment to help create a more sustainable society by identifying and developing innovative technological solutions.”

The second campaign began with the lighting of the pilot plant’s burners – the start of the process to heat the furnace to the right temperature. In about two weeks’ time the test campaign to make liquid iron using the new technology will commence.

The first HIsarna test campaign, in spring 2011, proved that a plant using the breakthrough technology can operate in practice, not merely in theory. The engineers succeeded in producing liquid iron. After several improvements to the technology’s processes, as well as to the plant itself, the installation is now ready for a second campaign. The key objective this time is for the plant to achieve stable liquid iron production over a longer period of time. The second campaign will last about six weeks, after which the results will be evaluated.

Usually, before liquid iron can be produced in a blast furnace, the steelmakers’ raw materials have to be suitably processed, fine iron ore has to be converted into sinter or pellet and coking coal into coke. The revolutionary element of the HIsarna technology is the elimination of these costly preparatory processes. Fine ore and coal can be fed straight into a HIsarna plant without prior processing. The technology is still at a very early stage; but if it can be successfully implemented, the new process could result in the gradual phasing out of the preparatory processes, reducing carbon emissions by 20 percent in 10 to 20 years from now.

HIsarna is an initiative of the ULCOS consortium of European steelmakers, whose efforts represent the world’s most advanced attempt to commercialise low-carbon iron making technologies. In addition, mining companies Rio Tinto and LKAB and several research institutes are working on HIsarna. The project has received financial support from the European union and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.