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Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research

Vol. 64, September 2005, pp 702-706

Productive recycling of basic oxygen furnace sludge in integrated steel plant

Raj Kumar Agrawal1 and Piyush Kant Pandey2,*
Steel Authority of India Limited, Bhilai Steel Plant, Bhilai 490 001
Centre for Environmental Science & Engineering, Bhilai Institute of Technology, Durg 491 002
Received 07 March 2005; accepted 20 June 2005

The study describes techniques of recycling the gas cleaning plant (GCP) sludge generated during basic oxygen furnace
(BOF) steel making process. Two different experiments were conducted to gainfully utilize converter sludge in iron making
and steel making. The experiments resulted in two different products namely lime sludge briquette (LSB) and dolomite
sludge mix (DSM). While LSB is used as a coolant in steel making, DSM is used for sinter production. Each one is having
cost effective advantages on one hand and substantially reduced dumping of waste on the other.
Keywords: Recycling, Basic oxygen furnace, Sludge, Blast furnace, Pollution

Introduction Experimental Details

Steel is an exceptionally recyclable material Process Description
because steel products and by-products are excellent Integrated steel production relies principally on
in terms of the “reduce, reuse and recycle” principle. virgin ore as the iron source and the use of some iron
On proper refining, the recycled products compete scrap is being made. The iron ore, mainly hematite
favorably with natural materials, improve recycling (Fe2O3) in India, is either sintered or pelletized and is
and preserve non-renewable resources1. Indian steel then reacted with coke, preheated air and auxiliary
industry is yet to reach the high standards achieved by fuels in the blast furnace (BF) to yield molten pig
its counterparts in developed world in the arena of iron. This hot metal is then transformed into steel in
waste minimizations and recycling. However, the and further processed before casting and rolling. Steel
Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), Bhilai has taken some very is an alloy of iron (< 1% carbon). Integrated steel
bold steps in this area and very encouraging results plants produce steel by refining iron ore in several
are being obtained. One such attempt was the use of steps and produce very high quality steel with well-
mixed pond ash for manufacturing superior quality controlled chemical compositions to meet all product
bricks2. In continuation of the task, an attempt was quality requirements.
made to recycle the sludge obtained from the gas
In BSP, three LD converters (capacity, 130 ton
cleaning plant of basic oxygen furnace (BOF) more
each) are installed. Steel is made in LD converters by
popularly known as LD converter.
lancing pure oxygen, which converts the carbon
This research has particularly targeted the slurry
present in pig iron into carbon mono-oxide. Oxygen is
from BOF for it’s recycling. In all major steel
blown through lances into the converter charged with
producing countries, this slurry, which contains zinc
hot metal, iron scrap, ferroalloys, lime and iron ore.
content too high to directly recycle, is put into a
Iron ore is used as a coolant, which adjusts hot metal
settling tank and the water is pressed out of the slurry.
scrap ratio to large extent. High purity oxygen blown
The remaining fraction is either stockpiled or
into the furnace removes carbon and silicon in the
landfilled. Steel companies are prospecting for the
molten iron mainly by oxidation. The basic oxide
processes to economically retrieve the zinc and iron
furnace is fed with fluxes to remove siliceous
units3. This paper describes a breakthrough achieved
impurities. Certain alloying materials may also be
which portents great savings economically and
added to enhance the characteristics of the steel.
During oxygen blowing process, a large amount of
________________ fumes and gases are generated, which contain fine
*Author for correspondence
particles of the charged materials and carbon mono-
Tel: 0788-2323997; Fax: 0788-2210163
E-mail: bitdurg@sancharnet.ac.in oxide (CO) gas.

Fig. 1Schematic diagram of basic oxygen furnace (LD Converter) and gas cleaning plant (GCP)

Such discharges may vitiate the already stressed Slurry water from saturator, expansion chamber,
atmosphere existing in steel cities4,5. Hence, this elbow and baffle separator is collected in hydraulic
polluted gas is cleaned before discharge to the tank guard. It is then discharged to radial settling tank
atmosphere. The gas is quenched and cooled using through launder. Radial settling tank deposits,
water and cleaned of suspended solids and metals. henceforth called ‘GCP Sludge’, is dumped in the
Evaporation of water due to high temperature landfill. Large production of this sludge has made it
saturates the gases with moisture. The trickled down an environmental nuisance for the steel industry.
water along with coarse dust particles is collected in
expansion chamber and drained out to hydraulic guard Materials and Methods
tank. Gas, which is partially cleaned and cooled, GCP sludge contains primarily iron oxide and free
passes through a Venturi where it attains high lime. Although BOF sludge is not suitable revert for
velocity. This leaves the occluded water particles use in BF because of high zinc content in other
behind, which subsequently separates out in elbow countries, whereas in India scrap is largely free from
separator by centrifugal action. The wet slurry is zinc. GCP sludge, analyzed by X-Ray fluorescence
discharged into hydraulic guard tank. The outgoing method, showed presence of high Fe content, which
gas then passes through a zigzag path in baffle on recycling produced two types of products. (i) Lime
separator that removes the remaining dust particles sludge briquette (LSB); and (ii) Dolomite sludge mix
and moisture. In the process of cleaning, the (DSM). The major difficulty encountered when
buoyancy is an unavoidable trade-off. Therefore, the recycling sludge to iron or steel making is the
gases are sucked by an I.D. fan to counter the moisture removal and material handling.
negative draft. A change over device finally directs
the outgoing gases either to recovery side or to the Lime Sludge Briquette (LSB)
atmosphere. A high content of CO in the gas makes it Chemically, GCP sludge was found rich in iron
suitable for its subsequent use as a fuel gas. Hence, in oxides and total Fe content. CO used for drying is
the recovery part, the gas is stored in a gasholder. produced as a by-product in coke manufacturing in
However, CO content is variable therefore, a portion the coke ovens. CO gas burners were installed in an
of the gas in different stages of the furnace operation in-house furnace specially designed for the
is exhausted to the atmosphere through flare stack elimination of water component. Converter sludge
after combustion (Fig. 1). was dried at 200oC in CO gas fired furnace for

appropriate time. The dried sludge was screened and handling and preparation plant where it was mixed
the size fraction (≤ 5 mm), collected after with the iron ore fines. Care was taken that in the
demagnetization, was charged into mixer of preparation of iron ore fines, the moisture should not
briquetting machine. Lime, used as the binder in exceed (7%) in so prepared mix. Thus, the sludge was
briquetting process, was charged through a separate converted to non-dusting, free flowing material
line into the mixer, and proportion was adjusted to suitable as iron ore fines to be used in sinter making
form briquettes of adequate handling strength in machine for sinter production. These sinters were
briquetting machine. These briquettes were used as a charged in BF for making iron.
coolant and replacement of iron ore in converter
Results and Discussion
during steel making.
The major issues in GCP sludge recycling effort
Dolomite Sludge Mix (DSM) are economy and probable effects on the quality of
In LSB manufacture, CO, a by-product from coke steel produced. Generation of GCP sludge is 8 kg/ton
ovens, was used to dry sludge. In this experiment, of crude steel productions. For producing 1.8 million
moisture and handling problem were overcome by a ton steel per annum, BSP dumps about 14400 ton
unique process of dehydration. Sludge dehydration sludge every year at a rate of production of
was achieved by mixing sludge with hot dolomite 40 ton/d. After implementation of this scheme, entire
collected from dust chamber of rotary kiln during quantity is utilized and the generation rate has
calcination/sintering of raw dolomite. Calcination of reduced to 7.4 kg/ton. Chemically, GCP sludge
dolomite, an essential step during sinter making contains mainly iron (50%), calcium oxide (16%), and
operation, is carried out in sintering plants. The magnesium oxide (4-5%), besides alumina, silica,
process of calcination/sintering of dolomite is carried basic oxides and zinc. Operationally, the final
out in the rotary kiln where the pulverized coal is moisture content of mix is critical for proper handling
supplied with a jet of the compressed air. Thus, large and charging. Too low moisture may cause dust
amount of fines, which are carried away by hot flue generation and too high may cause plugging of
gases, is unavoidable in this process. Theses fines are hoppers and bins. Presence of moisture may lead to
separated from the flue gases in the dust chamber the following problems: (i) Explosion in converter
(temp, 600°C). At the time of disposal, these fines are vessel may take place because the presence of O2 and
generally at 200°–250°C. BSP envisaged using this high temperature generation of H2; (ii) Disintegration
heat energy for dehydration of GCP sludge. These of briquettes will take place due to hydration of lime;
outgoing gases from rotary kiln comprise of flue and (iii) Wet sludge/briquette does not flow smoothly
gases, ash, and dolomite fines. The rate of generation through Vibro-feeders and can cause chute jamming
of rotary kiln fines is more than 40 ton/d. Prior to this and lump formation in the bunker. Experiments
experiment, these fines were cooled and then sent to showed that sludge (moisture, 3-4%) is optimum to
dump yard as landfills. avoid the above problems. A moisture level (< 3-4%)
GCP sludge from converter was sprayed on the causes excessive fugitive dust, and moisture level
dolomite fines obtained from the rotary kiln. To (> 7%) starts choking in the flow line and equipments.
achieve the same, a recycling process was developed Two tests, Shatter and Tumbler, were carried out to
in the plant premises. BOF sludge was supplied in find out the suitability of the briquettes for industrial
tippers to the dolomite plant. Blending of the hot applications. In Shatter test, 20 kg of briquettes was
dolomite (~400°C) with sludge was done layer by allowed to fall 5 times from a height (2 m) on a steel
layer with the help of grab bucket. The sludge was plate (40 mm thick). The percentage fraction
blended with dolomite in a predetermined mix ratios (≥5 mm), which remained intact, was reported as
using layering effect of sludge–dolomite–sludge and Shatter Index, which for 5 samples was found as
so on. The mix ratios are not divulged here in view of follows: sample I, 89.2; II, 89.4; III, 90.1; IV, 91.0;
the commercial significance of this process. and V, 88.6. For Tumbler test, 15 kg of briquette was
The process uses available heat from hot dolomite subjected to tumbling in a drum (diam, 1000 mm;
to dehydrate the sludge and it resulted in a huge height, 500 mm). The drum was rotated at 25 rpm for
savings in drying costs. The treated mix is then 8 min. The percentage fraction (+6.3 mm) was
allowed to cool for approx 16-20 h. The undersize reported as Tumbler Index, which for 3 samples was
mix was then transported in rail wagons to the ore found as follows: sample I, 75.8; II, 79.2; and III,

sludge has reduced the iron ore addition in the BOF

converter. The reduced oxygen consumption is
another benefit; as the presence of oxides is high in
the GCP sludge. Further, the converter sludge, having
high percentage of lime, would reduce lime
consumption also. The most significant engineering
benefit was in the form of a good vessel coating,
which was achieved in using LSB. A better coating of
the BOF directly results into a longer life of the
coating of the converter.
Experiments using dolomite fines have provided
even better results (Fig. 3). In this process, the sludge
dehydration was achieved by mixing it with hot
Fig. 2 Composition of lime sludge briquette (LSB) dolomite fines (~400OC) to produce low moisture
material suitable for charging in sinter machine as a
replacement of iron ore fines.
The presence of an appreciable percentage of CaO
and MgO in DSM (Fig. 4) makes it a suitable feed for
the BF. In blast furnace, DSM is used in the form of
pellet, which is manufactured by supplying DSM
through vibro-feeders. In this process, the chute
jamming and lump formation in the bunker are the
major problems. To avoid these problems, the optimal
moisture content (5%) in the DSM was maintained.
This resulted in a proper flow ability of the mix
ensuring a smooth operation.
Greater economy by the use of otherwise wasted
Fig. 3.Chemistry of dolomite fines
heat and the chemical properties of the DSM have
proved the advantages, which can be accrued by such
researches. Fiscal calculation shows that a saving of
more than $10 per ton of steel produced is easily
attained by this method. Thus, this research has
successfully invented the method of waste recycling
suitable to the Indian conditions.
Another major technological issue concerns the high
cooling effect of the oxidized by-products of BOF. The
dust, scales and sludge from iron- and steel making
processes, which usually have high iron content, are in
oxidized form virtually without exception. Iron oxide
containing material can be used as a substitutive
coolant during converter blowing process.
Fig. 4 Composition of dolomite sludge mix (DSM) Traditionally scrap and iron ore (usually pellets or
74.4. Results of both indexes show a high degree of sinter) are used as coolants. Charging iron oxide to
suitability for the respective applications. converter may also speed up slag formation in the
Major components of LSB are CaO and Fe (Fig. 2). beginning of the process and decarburization reactions.
Initially, LSB (1 ton) was fed to the converter. On One of the biggest problems concerning utilization of
satisfactory performance, the quantity was increased oxidized by-products in BOF-steel making is probably
(2, 5, 10 and now 15 ton) of LSB, which is being a high cooling effect. This decreases the scrap melting
supplied every day. Thus, BSP is able to consume capacity of a converter, which may reduce total amount
entire sludge this way. The use of iron rich GCP of steel produced. Adding a reductant with the by-

product charge could diminish this problem. It is also been found to be valuable recyclable material. Their
possible to prevent oxidation of dust in some cases, use is an eco-friendly solution to the problem of
when the cooling effect decreases. Anyway, at least landfill disposal of huge quantity of BOF sludge,
sinter, which is used as a secondary coolant, could be which is becoming increasingly unaffordable. This
replaced by a by-product with a high iron oxide study will result in a net return to any integrated steel
content. The cooling effect of sinter is close to cooling plant by the recovery of iron, reduced landfill cost and
effects of several dust, scales and sludge. The amount substantial reduction in steel making cost. Through
of dust produced during converter process may be this work, a viable industrial process has been
increased when by-products are added. Some elements developed for treating steel making sludge to produce
are also enriched in the dust. These factors may useful by-product having improved flow rate
increase scaffold formation on the inner surface of the properties in a recycling system. LSB and DSM are
flue gas duct. Using by-products as raw material may environment friendly and portend substantial cost
increase content of some elements in raw steel. savings.
However, this experiment has successfully countered
the problems identified as above because the actual Acknowledgments
trials in both BOF and BF have shown no adverse Authors sincerely acknowledge the support
effect on the product quality and quantity. In this study, provided by the Management of Bhilai Steel Plant,
there was no negative cooling effect in either of the Bhilai. RKA acknowledges the support of Bhilai
furnace following the mix proportions devised. Institute of Technology.
Both experiments have developed a unique
technology of sludge recycling in BSP in an References
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