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Azovstal shifts from natural gas to pulverized coal in its blast furnace operations

18 April 2016

Metinvest Group will invest over USD 17 million to build a plant for the pulverized coal injection (PCI) into blast furnace No.4 at Azovstal integrated steelworks. The project will allow the plant to entirely convert its blast furnace process from the costly natural gas to the pulverized coal in the future.

The construction of the PCI plant has already proceeded to its active phase. The concrete works of foundations of the pulverized coal injection building and loading/unloading stations were completed.  

The equipment will be manufactured by Küttner (Germany). The German partner specializes in the engineering and construction of metallurgical facilities to high European environmental, safety, and efficiency standards.  

The project does not involve the construction of a coal warehouse or coal grinding mills. The pulverized coal will be produced at the readily available facilities at Mariupol Ilyich Iron and Steel Works and supplied to Azovstal in leak-proof railway tank wagons.  In addition to the unloading station at Mariupol Ilyich Iron and Steel Works, an unloading station for railway tank wagons carrying the pulverized coal and a proportioning and distribution area will be arranged at Azovstal. The pulverized coal will be transferred from the station to the proportioning and distribution area by pneumatic transport. 

The use of the pulverized coal will boost the performance of blast furnace No.4 by 20% and reduce the hot metal production costs by completely substituting the natural gas and partly the coke with the pulverized coal (the coke saving is 31.3 kg/t). The process solutions under the project will allow for further stage-by-stage development of the facility to ensure the pulverized coal injection into all five blast furnaces at Azovstal.  The annual natural gas saving potential is estimated at 300 million cubic meters.

The injection of the pulverized coal into blast furnaces is one of the most efficient ways to reduce the coke consumption and achieve more economical hot metal production.  The technology makes it possible to substitute up to 100% of the natural gas and up to   25% of the coke.

Yuriy Ryzhenkov, Chief Executive Officer of Metinvest Group:

- The enhancement of competitive strengths in parallel with the reduction of manufacturing costs are particularly important in hard times.   And the construction of the PCI plant can offer these specific advantages. Zaporizhstal and Mariupol Ilyich Iron and Steel Works already have such technology in operation enabling to achieve annual savings of up to 700 million cubic meters of gas. Now, Azovstal's time has come. Metinvest continues to invest in the future and enhance the efficiency of its enterprises. 

Enver Tskitishvili, general director of Azovstal:

- Nowadays, the competition in the steel market can be compared with a survival race. The rules of the game change extremely fast.   It is necessary to react in the most flexible way to the changing environment and be committed to continuous development. To date, the pulverized coal injection is one of techniques capable of providing tangible savings and improving the production efficiency. The plant has been designed only for the new fourth blast furnace so far. However, as soon as resources are available, we will revamp the rest of the blast furnaces substituting the natural gas for the pulverized coal.