Company News, 2012-01-10, 12:00 PM
ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe modernizing blast furnace 9 in Duisburg
Blast furnace 9 at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg-Hamborn was shut down yesterday for a period of 180 days to allow the refractory lining and parts of the cooling system to be replaced. The steel producer is investing 37 million euros in this modernization project, which will improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the site. With demand for flat steel products currently weaker for inventory cycle reasons and likely to impact production until spring, the company is bringing forward the work to the end of May which was originally planned for 2014, making use of the window in the market. If orders recover following the end of the inventory cycle, short-term supply shortages can be covered from stock. During the shutdown of blast furnace 9, the other three blast furnaces – furnaces 1 and 2 in Schwelgern which have more than double the capacity, as well as furnace 8 – will run at full capacity to ensure optimum hot end operations.
Uninterrupted operation since 1987
The Hamborn blast furnace operations of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe with furnaces 8 and 9 produce roughly 3.7 million tons of hot metal per year, which is processed into crude steel in the melt shops. Iron oxide-bearing ores are reduced with coke and coal dust in the blast furnaces to form hot metal. Originally built in 1962, blast furnace 9 was completely revamped and enlarged in 1987, since when it has produced around 40 million tons of hot metal. The furnace, which has an annual capacity of 1.7 million tons, would have been due for a complete reline in two years at the latest, as its current campaign, i.e. the period until the roughly two meter thick refractory lining needs to be fully replaced, was close to the end.
Blow-down, then modernization
To allow the repair work to be carried out, the furnace was first blown down in the night of January 8, 2012. For this, the blast furnace process initially continued in the lower area, with raw material charging gradually reduced until hot metal production came to a stop; the air supply was also sharply reduced and eventually also cut off. Once the remaining hot metal has been tapped, the old refractory lining will be removed. Work on relining the blast furnace and replacing parts of the cooling system will then be carried out. Roughly 2,400 tons of refractory material is needed for the new lining – 1,900 tons for the hearth and 500 tons for the shaft area. On completion of the work at the end of May, the blast furnace will be fired up again.
“The temporary shutdown of furnace 9 will have no negative impact on employment in the hot metal operations,” emphasizes Dr. Michael Peters, head of hot metal production at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe. “On the contrary, we have requested all blast furnace employees not to take leave during the relining phase if possible to ensure the complex work can be carried out smoothly – for this we literally need every man we have.”
Second phase at the planning stage
In a second phase of the relining project, a modern dust extraction system with a fabric filter will be fitted at a later date – initially during ongoing operations – which will help further reduce dust emissions. After that, the casthouse will be modernized and a new inclined elevator installed. In addition, blast furnace 9 will then be given an attractive color cladding so as to match its twin, blast furnace 8, which was built a few years ago (start of production December 2007). Following relining, both blast furnaces in Hamborn will operate to the highest technical and environmental standards.