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Technology for underwriters 19 Steel plants

Part 1: Steel production

Mnchener Rck Munich Re Group

1 Steel production. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Coal Fluxing agents Iron ore Coking plant Blast furnace Direct reduction plant Alloying addition Oxygen Fluxing agents Scrap Converter Ladle furnace Mould Continuous casting plant

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An overview of the processes.


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1 1.1 1.2 1.3

The reduction of iron ore The blast furnace process Direct reduction Smelting reduction

2 Steelmaking 2.1 Oxygen converters 2.2 Electric-arc furnaces 3 Casting the steel 3.1 Continuous casting 3.2 Near net-shape casting

A distinction is made between integrated steel plants and mini steel plants. Integrated steel plants are large factories with a complex structure and a broad range of products. They comprise blast furnaces, basic oxygen steel plants, and continuous casting plants, with downstream plants such as hot and cold rolling mills and surface-coating plants. They are designed for high levels of output. Mini steel plants are less complex in structure and their range of products is usually limited. Scrap steel, sponge iron from direct reduction plants, or pig iron from smelting reduction plants is processed in an electric-arc furnace. The steel is cast in a continuous casting plant. Downstream plants include relatively simple rolling mills. Throughput levels are comparatively low.

After mechanical dressing, oxygen is separated from the iron in a chemical process called reduction. This requires a suitable reducing gas. The reaction takes place in a blast furnace, direct reduction plant, or smelting reduction plant. The blast furnace process is the most significant in terms of output. In the past 20 years or so, direct reduction has experienced an upswing. Smelting reduction plants still bear many features of prototypes and have little significance in terms of output. 1.1 The production of pig iron in the blast furnace The charge for the production of pig iron in the blast furnace is mainly dressed iron ore, limestone, and coke. Coke is manufactured by degasifying coal at a temperature of about 950C in a coking plant, which comprises a large number of heated coke ovens. The gas released in the coke ovens is collected, purified, and fed into the steel plants gas network. The blast furnace is a continuously operating shaft furnace with a thick refractory lining, which is kept cool by large amounts of cooling water. The water is passed through cooling elements installed between the furnace shell and the refractory lining. The reducing gas is produced by burning coke in the lower section of the blast furnace.

1 The reduction of iron ore


The starting material for the production of steel is iron ore. First the ore must be prepared mechanically in various processes known collectively as dressing. In the comminution process the size of the ore is reduced in crushers and grinding mills. The opposite process of agglomeration involves sintering and pelletizing. In the sintering process fine ore is fed into a furnace, where it fuses together to form largish lumps called sinter. In the pelletizing process extra fine ore is converted into pellets, which are then baked. In these dressing processes the iron ore attains the size that is needed for further processing.

2 Blast furnace. (Height: 5070 m; max. diameter: approx. 15 m; useful volume: up to about 5,000 m3) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Blast furnace gas Charging plant Throat (approx. 200C, 23 bars) Homogenized ore burden Coke Coke, pellets, fluxing agents, etc. Bosh (1,6001,800C) Hot wind (approx. 1,300C) Slag Pig iron Hot-blast stove

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The charge is fed into the upper section of the blast furnace called the throat using conveyor belts or skips. It is preheated and dried and then in countercurrent to the reducing gas gradually descends into the hotter sections of the furnace, where the latent heat of fusion for the pig iron and the reducing gas are generated in the coke-burning process. The highest temperatures of 1,600 to 1,800C are reached in the bosh, where combustion air from a bustle pipe surrounding the furnace is blown in by tuyeres. The pig iron is melted down in the bosh and in its liquid form makes direct contact with the refractory lining. The resulting wear and tear is considerable, which is why blast furnaces must be shut down every four to six years and relined.

The combustion air is sucked in from the atmosphere by fans and heated to a temperature of about 1,300C in hot-blast stoves. These hot-blast stoves, of which there are usually three, are fired by gas from the gas network. Once the dust in the blast furnace gas drawn off at the throat has been removed by such installations as scrubbers, cyclone dust separators, or electric filters, the gas is fed into the steel plants gas network by compressors.

3 Direct reduction using the HyL-III process. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Reformer Reducing gas preheater Reactor Cellular wheel sluice Natural gas, reducing gas Reducing gas circuit Fuel gas Cooling gas circuit Delivery of iron ore pellets Dispatch of sponge iron

1.2 The production of sponge iron by direct reduction There are various methods of producing sponge iron, also known as direct-reduced iron (DRI). The most common methods are the Midrex and HyL-III processes. The reduction process takes place in a shaft furnace, the reducing gas being natural gas which has been converted by catalytic cracking. Some other processes use rotary kilns, in which coal is used to produce the reducing gas. Fluidized-bed plants have also been built for the reduction of fine ores. They use reducing gases that are rich in hydrogen. In the HyL-III process, natural gas is converted into reducing gas in a reformer furnace with a catalyst at a temperature of 800900C. The reduction of the iron ore takes place in a shaft furnace. Iron pellets are reduced in the upper section of the furnace in countercurrent with the reducing gas to form sponge iron. In the lower section the sponge iron is cooled to about 50C by a cooling gas and drawn off by a cellular wheel sluice. The sponge iron is usually processed further in an electricarc furnace.

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1.3 The production of pig iron by smelting reduction In the smelting reduction process, liquid pig iron is produced as in a blast furnace, but the reducing gas is produced by means of coal gasification using oxygen as the agent. The production of coke in cost-intensive coking plants is not necessary. There are several smelting reduction processes, some of which are still at the development or testing stage. One process already being used in large-scale industrial production is the COREX process. Its advantage lies in the short start-up and shutdown times of just a few hours. Throughput can be adjusted flexibly. The COREX process is a two-stage process with two reactors positioned one above the other. In the upper reactor, a shaft furnace, iron pellets are pre-reduced to sponge iron at a temperature of about 800850C. The sponge iron is then conveyed by a feed screw into the lower, refractory-lined reactor (melter-gasifier) where coal gasification, final reduction, and the melting-down of sponge iron to pig iron takes place. The coal is inserted by a feed screw at the head of the melter-gasifier. The oxygen for coal gasification is blown in through a cooled tuyere bottom. The reducing gas produced in the gasification process is purified in a hot cyclone and fed into the shaft reactor.

4 Smelting reduction using the COREX method. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Melter-gasifier Reduction shaft Coal feed bin Hot cyclone Coal Lump ore, pellets, sinter, additives Top gas Reducing gas Raw gas Dust Oxygen Pig iron, slag 5 6

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5 Basic oxygen steelmaking. 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pig iron Scrap Oxygen Lime Oxygen lance Steel Slag Argon

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The refining process takes place either in a converter working on the principle of basic oxygen steelmaking or in an electric-arc furnace. In terms of production volume, basic oxygen steelmaking is the predominant type of process. Besides pig iron and sponge iron, other materials such as fluxing agents, alloying additions, and scrap are needed as charges. Smelting time at modern refining plants is below one hour. 2.1 Oxygen converters The converter is pear-shaped and can be tilted for the various stages of operation. The steel shell is protected by a thick refractory lining, which is subject to such wear and tear that it must be replaced every few weeks. For this reason, there are always several converters on hand with a capacity of up to 400 tonnes of steel each. The refining process usually entails oxygen being blown onto the liquid steel bath by water-cooled lances (top-blowing method), with temperatures of 2,500 to 3,000C being reached. The hot off-gases from the converter must be cooled in an off-gas boiler before they can be fed into the gas purification plant.

2 Steelmaking
The products at the end of the first processing stage are liquid pig iron and solid sponge iron. Both contain large amounts of accompanying elements or impurities and these are removed in the next stage, which is refining. This requires large amounts of pure oxygen, which is produced at the steel plant in air separation plants. Of the many types of chemical reaction, decarbonization is the most important. The product at the end of the second processing stage is liquid steel.

2.2 Electric-arc furnaces In electric-arc furnaces, the charge is scrap steel and/or sponge iron. The heat required to melt the charge is produced by an electric arc, with temperatures of up to 3,500C being reached. The electric-arc furnace can use either direct current or three-phase alternating current. In many cases only the body of the furnace is lined, whereas the swivelling roof is cooled by water. The electrode arms are exposed to extreme heat and must also be cooled with water. Electric-arc furnaces can hold up to 300 tonnes of steel. The lining undergoes extreme wear and tear and must be replaced regularly. The hot off-gases must be cooled in special off-gas boilers or scrap pre-heating plants. A reliable supply of power is essential for electric-arc furnace operations. In the first stage, the mains voltage is reduced by outdoor transformers. Downstream furnace transformers then produce the operating voltage of several hundred volts at up to 60,000 amps. The electrical energy is transmitted to the furnace by cooled cables. In the case of DC electric-arc furnaces, alternating current is first converted into direct current by rectifiers, which work mainly with thyristors. Electric-arc furnaces are very suited for the production of alloyed steels, which only melt at high temperatures. After leaving the electric-arc furnace, the liquid steel is often subject to secondary metallurgical treatment.

6 Electric-arc furnace.

3 Casting the steel


In the third manufacturing stage, the liquid steel is cast to make semifinished products with various profiles. This is usually done in continuous casting plants, although ingot pouring is also common. The products of casting are not yet ready for selling to the consumer. Typical examples are slabs (with a rectangular cross-section), billets (with a square cross-section), and round steel. These semi-finished products need to be further processed in elaborate and costly plants like hot and cold rolling mills.

3.1 Continuous casting The liquid steel arrives in lined containers called ladles, which are then inserted in a turntable. While the liquid steel in one ladle is being emptied into an intermediate buffer container called the tundish, the next ladle goes into a waiting position and is ready for emptying. As soon as the first ladle has been emptied, the turntable revolves. This only takes a short time and does not interrupt the casting process because the tundish has sufficient volume to act as a buffer. The liquid steel flows from the tundish into a water-cooled mould and freezes superficially. The strand is then drawn out of the mould. This is a very delicate operation as the strand at the mould exit is not yet frozen on the inside. It must continue to be cooled intensively and as a result it gradually freezes over its entire cross section. The strand is then finally cut to length using an oxyacetylene torch. Several parallel strands are normally cast simultaneously because casting unlike milling is a very slow process.

7 Continuous casting plant. 1 2 3 4 Ladle Ladle turntable Tundish Mould

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3.2 Near net-shape casting In order to keep the cost of further processing in the rolling mill to a minimum, one of the aims in casting is to come as close as possible to the final dimensions of the product. New types of plant in which steel strips can be cast with a thickness of only a few millimetres rather than relatively thick slabs have been designed in a number of countries. Most of them have not yet passed beyond the development or prototype stage.

4 Risks and loss prevention


In the majority of steelmaking plants there is an increased risk of fire and explosion. The liquid pig iron in blast furnaces and smelting reduction plants reaches temperatures of about 1,600 to 1,650C. Furnaces containing liquid metal must be monitored for hot spots. A furnace breakthrough or a spill of fluid pig iron during transportation can cause a major conflagration. Contact with water can trigger massive explosions. The intense heat radiated by steel spillages can also cause damage. All the structural elements of the building and all installations should be fire-proofed up to a height of 0.5 m. Some of the fire-proof bricks used in refractory linings like dolomite are very delicate. If they are stored improperly, they may absorb moisture from the atmosphere and disintegrate in a matter of days. Particular attention must therefore be given to protecting them during storage. Long periods of storage on construction sites should be avoided. Fire clay bricks are less of a problem. Refractory linings must be dried carefully in accordance with a set schedule. Some types of smelting reduction plant have not yet progressed beyond the prototype stage.

There is a danger of explosion in the reformer furnaces of direct reduction plants. Sponge iron reoxidizes at temperatures of between 150 and 230C and on contact with water. Heat is released and there is an increased risk of fire. Sponge iron must therefore be given special protection by being roofed over during storage and transportation. Some types of direct reduction plant are still in the prototype stage, too. Basic oxygen steel plants are particularly exposed owing to the use of pure oxygen. The oxygen system must therefore be very well maintained. The water-cooled oxygen lances constitute a particular hazard. The off-gases from the converters are very corrosive and have a high dust content. The intermitting operation of converters entails high levels of mechanical and thermal stress for the downstream off-gas boilers and this can result in damage.

In electric-arc furnaces the scrap, which has usually been stored in the open, must be preheated properly to make sure that no water comes in with it. The scrap should not contain any explosive objects like gas bottles or shock absorbers either. Outdoor transformers and furnace transformers must be monitored and maintained with special care. Furnace transformers are situated in the direct vicinity of the electric-arc furnace and must be protected against the radiant heat by a concrete housing. Additional protection by an automatic sprinkler system is also desirable. In continuous casting plants it is possible for the liquid steel to break out while the still unfrozen strand is being withdrawn. Surrounding plants are then exposed to the hazard of fire and radiant heat.

5 Insurance aspects
5.1 Erection all risks insurance The first thing is to determine whether the process is a conventional one or whether it is still a form of prototype. The erection of steel plants usually involves large-scale construction sites with high sums insured. As with all long-term projects, a construction time schedule should be obtained for the purpose of risk assessment. It often happens that cover is requested for revamping and modernization work. Risk-commensurate premiums can only be calculated when the scope of cover is described in detail. On account of the sheer physical weight of steel plants, attention must be paid to the quality of the subsoil and the type of foundations used. A subsoil report should be obtained. Steel plants require large amounts of cooling water and are therefore usually located near rivers or the sea. Attention must be paid to the danger of flooding. The windstorm risk is also high on account of the many lifting operations using heavy cranes. For direct reduction plants with gas reformer furnaces, the Special condition 1 for hydrocarbon-processing industries, MR endorsement 204, should be applied.

5.2 Machinery insurance Here too the first step is to find out whether the process is a conventional one or a prototype. Steel plants comprise a very large number of individual machines, so that cataloguing them in detail is hardly practicable. A more general list of plants is more suitable. The deductible should not be too low in this case. Refractory linings have a very limited service life and must be replaced regularly. An agreement must be made with regard to an adequate amount of depreciation being accounted for in the event of a claim. The usual maintenance and depreciation endorsements for electric motors, transformers, turbines, and generators are to be applied. Risk inspections are recommended. 5.3 Machinery loss of profits insurance Owing to the type of processes involved, spare machines are often on stand-by and there is usually a generous stock of spare parts on hand for the same reason. It is common to have a relatively large maintenance department. In the event of a breakdown in operations, it is often possible to purchase semi-finished products from other manufacturers. These factors are important in rating the risk.

Published to date 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Paper manufacture Excavation pits below groundwater level Cement production Fire protection on construction sites Directional drilling Diaphragm walls Laying of pipeline siphons Sugar production Immediate action after damage to electronic equipment and installations Monitoring glass panes for breakage, part 1 Monitoring glass panes for breakage, part 2 Caissons MRPC/MRPCMaps Rating software for engineering insurances Combined cycle stations Pod propulsion A new diesel-electric vessel propulsion system Fluidized bed combustion systems in power stations Loss prevention by infrared thermography Transformers 19 Steel plants Part 1: Steel production 20 Steel plants Part 2: Steel processing 21 Hot work 22 Locating leaks after water damage 23 Earthmoving machines 24 Desalination of sea water 25 Aero engines 26 Printing presses 27 Crude oil refineries Part 1: Basic principles 28 Crude oil refineries Part 2: Plant sections, insurance aspects Picture credits ABB Industrietechnik AG, Mannheim Preussag Stahl AG, Salzgitter VOEST ALPINE INDUSTRIEANLAGENBAU, Linz Gnther H. Eckert, Bro fr Technische Grafik, Mnchen Verlag Stahl Eisen, Dsseldorf SMS Schloemann-Siemag AG, Dsseldorf 2003 Mnchener Rckversicherungs-Gesellschaft Kniginstrasse 107 80802 Mnchen Germany Tel.: +49 (0) 89/38 91-0 Fax: +49 (0) 89/38 90 56 http://www.munichre.com Order number 302-00620

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