Sustainable Steelmaking by Process Integration

Hamid Ghanbari Toudeshki

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


    Environmental issues, including global warming, have been serious challenges realized worldwide, and they have become particularly important for the iron and steel manufacturers during the last decades. Many sites has been shut down in developed countries due to environmental regulation and pollution prevention while a large number of production plants have been established in developing countries which has changed the economy of this business.

    Sustainable development is a concept, which today affects economic growth, environmental protection, and social progress in setting up the basis for future ecosystem. A sustainable headway may attempt to preserve natural resources, recycle and reuse materials, prevent pollution, enhance yield and increase profitability. To achieve these objectives numerous alternatives should be examined in the sustainable process design. Conventional engineering work cannot address all of these substitutes effectively and efficiently to find an optimal route of processing. A systematic framework is needed as a tool to guide designers to make decisions based on overall concepts of the system, identifying the key bottlenecks and opportunities, which lead to an optimal design and operation of the systems.

    Since the 1980s, researchers have made big efforts to develop tools for what today is referred to as Process Integration. Advanced mathematics has been used in simulation models to evaluate various available alternatives considering physical, economic and environmental constraints.

    Improvements on feed material and operation, competitive energy market, environmental restrictions and the role of Nordic steelworks as energy supplier (electricity and district heat) make a great motivation behind integration among industries toward more sustainable operation, which could increase the overall energy efficiency and decrease environmental impacts.

    In this study, through different steps a model is developed for primary steelmaking, with the Finnish steel sector as a reference, to evaluate future operation concepts of a steelmaking site regarding sustainability. The research started by potential study on increasing energy efficiency and carbon dioxide reduction due to integration of steelworks with chemical plants for possible utilization of available off-gases in the system as chemical products. These off-gases from blast furnace, basic oxygen furnace and coke oven furnace are mainly contained of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen and partially methane (in coke oven gas) and have proportionally low heating value but are currently used as fuel within these industries.

    Nonlinear optimization technique is used to assess integration with methanol plant under novel blast furnace technologies and (partially) substitution of coal with other reducing agents and fuels such as heavy oil, natural gas and biomass in the system. Technical aspect of integration and its effect on blast furnace operation regardless of capital expenditure of new operational units are studied to evaluate feasibility of the idea behind the research.

    Later on the concept of polygeneration system added and a superstructure generated with alternative routes for off-gases pretreatment and further utilization on a polygeneration system producing electricity, district heat and methanol.

    (Vacuum) pressure swing adsorption, membrane technology and chemical absorption for gas separation; partial oxidation, carbon dioxide and steam methane reforming for methane gasification; gas and liquid phase methanol synthesis are the main alternative process units considered in the superstructure.

    Due to high degree of integration in process synthesis, and optimization techniques, equation oriented modeling is chosen as an alternative and effective strategy to previous sequential modelling for process analysis to investigate suggested superstructure. A mixed integer nonlinear programming is developed to study behavior of the integrated system under different economic and environmental scenarios.

    Net present value and specific carbon dioxide emission is taken to compare economic and environmental aspects of integrated system respectively for different fuel systems, alternative blast furnace reductants, implementation of new blast furnace technologies, and carbon dioxide emission penalties. Sensitivity analysis, carbon distribution and the effect of external seasonal energy demand is investigated with different optimization techniques. 

    This tool can provide useful information concerning techno-environmental and economic aspects for decision-making and estimate optimal operational condition of current and future primary steelmaking under alternative scenarios. The results of the work have demonstrated that it is possible in the future to develop steelmaking towards more sustainable operation. 

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Print ISBNs978-952-12-3137-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • Sustainable development
    • process modelling
    • Process analysis
    • Carbon dioxide emissions
    • Blast furnace

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