While industrialization and urbanization has skyrocketed in the past century, so has our use of metal, such as steel, iron and cast iron. These elements are massively used in the infrastructure and construction industry, as well as for machinery and automobile. For example, the world’s steel production has risen from 189 million tons in 1950 to 1630 million tons in 2016, according to a study from the World Steel Association.
This rapid surge of the metal industry has come with an environmental cost. Indeed, shaft furnaces in foundries use coke fuel which is made with coal. It is estimated 70% of the world’s steel is produced using coke. According to the World Steel Association “the greenhouse gas of most relevance to the world steel industry is carbon dioxide (CO2). On average for 2017, 1.83 tonnes of CO2 were emitted for every tonne of steel produced. The steel industry generates between 7% and 9% of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuel”.
Air Liquide has created Nexelia for metal melting, a breakthrough solution to optimize the melting process in blast furnaces. This innovation includes connected oxygen lances and an advanced control tool to automatically adapt the flow of oxygen (which is used in the production of steel and cast iron) in real-time to keep the temperature steady throughout the furnace. Thanks to this digital technology, furnaces can considerably improve their efficiency by
“increasing operating flexibility of the furnace, improving temperature homogeneity inside the furnace and finally by reducing maintenance/control operations linked to oxygen lances”
says Air Liquide. Tests have shown that typical foundries can save approximately 1000t CO2 and 5600 MW of energy per year.