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DOE, ArcelorMittal partnership boosts efficiency of major steel manufacturing plant; 504 boiler project captures blast furnace gas flare

Simplified process diagram that shows existing process components and the new elements of the 504 project. Source: NETL. Click to enlarge.

ArcelorMittal has inaugurated a new, energy recovery and reuse boiler that recycles waste gas generated through its blast furnace process (for ironmaking) and uses it to generate electricity to help power the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel manufacturing plant in East Chicago, Indiana—the largest steelmaking complex in North America.

ArcelorMittal is a major supplier to the North American automotive industry, as well as the broader transportation sector, with customers in the trucking, off- highway, agricultural equipment, and railway industries.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded ArcelorMittal $31.6 million for the 504 boiler project under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was matched by the company. The company expects this energy recovery boiler to generate 333,000 MWh of power annually of its own electricity, the equivalent of powering 30,000 American homes per year, and to save the facility nearly $20 million in energy costs each year.

Prior to the new boiler, ArcelorMittal burned about 22% of the blast furnace gas from Indiana Harbor operations before releasing it to the atmosphere through an exhaust stack, a process called flaring. The company used the remaining 78% of the gas to power boilers. The new boiler project further reduces the amount of waste gas that is flared.

The new 504 project includes (1) a 17,000-square-foot addition to the existing boilerhouse; (2) 620 feet of new 66-inch pipeline to carry the blast furnace gas from the existing 100-inch diameter blast furnace gas main to the new boiler system; (3) a new feed water system including pumps and deaerator; and (4) a new 290-foot exhaust stack next to the boilerhouse addition. The project uses the existing site cooling systems and so does not require new cooling towers. The proposed uses the site’s existing gas management system to cool and clean the gas for use in the boiler.

This project showcases one of many efforts outlined in President Obama’s Executive Order to accelerate and expand industrial energy efficiency with investments that reduce energy use through more efficient manufacturing technologies and processes. This includes the expanded use of efficient, on-site energy recovery systems, as deployed by the ArcelorMittal project, the DOE pointed out.

The Executive Order establishes a new national goal of 40 gigawatts of new combined heat and power (CHP) capacity by 2020, a 50% increase from today. Meeting this goal would save American industry $10 billion per year, could result in between $40 billion to $80 billion in new capital investment in manufacturing and other facilities that would create American jobs, and would reduce emissions equivalent to 25 million cars.

The DOE’s advanced manufacturing R&D program, through the Innovative Manufacturing Initiative, also invests in next-generation technologies that have the potential to revolutionize conventional manufacturing processes down the road. In partnership with the steel industry, DOE recently initiated a novel ironmaking project that will develop a process that sprays iron ore directly into the furnace chamber and uses natural gas or hydrogen as a reducing agent to replace the energy and capital intensive coke oven and blast furnace process steps—significantly reducing the energy costs, carbon footprint, production time, and capital and operating costs.



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