The steel industry deserves recognition and commendation for continuing to innovate to reduce its carbon footprint on multiple fronts. Not resting on the fact that steel is 100 % recyclable without loss of integrity, innovating in the world of steel will continue to demonstrate digitization toward steel ‘smart’ plants, going forward.
Leading steel manufacturing plants are big on by-product recycling. Even water used to cool steel does not go to waste. Steel innovation is focused on playing its part in a sustainable and cleaner future.
ORC Heads Steel Innovation
Installing Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbines to produce hot-rolled steel for both the motor and the mechanical industry is demonstrating significant energy conservation. By generating energy from waste heat to match the consumption needed the savings are measurable and suitably impressive.
A Forbes article on the subject noted: ‘During summer operations, the ORC system generates enough energy from waste heat to meet the electricity consumption needs of 700 local families. In winter, the waste heat is used to heat 2,000 households through the local district heating network. This reduces the factory’s carbon footprint by 10,000 tons of CO2 a year, as well as eliminating the need for water-cooling.’
The Forbes steel innovation investigation pointed out that ORC turbines negate the need for water because they vaporize an organic fluid. This actually has the additional knock-on effect of having the turbines run at lower pressure and lower speed, once more reducing cost and requiring less maintenance. Another bonus is that ORC turbines are fully automated and don’t require an operator.
AI’s Role in Steel Innovation
Moving toward automation, the role of sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence) enables optimum conservation and improvements in energy efficiency. Each segment of the manufacturing process can now have smart components that are monitored by AI-driven diagnostics.
One thing’s for sure, we are looking at an industry committed to making a difference in reducing the environmental impact of steelmaking in every step of the manufacturing process. That requires steel innovation all the way and a good thing that is.