Energy efficiency improvement in steel factory in Elbasan, Albania

IndustrySouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 6/2009

Kurum International is the only company in Albania that operates iron-steel facilities. Built on a 430,490 m2 area and equipped with advanced technology, this facility puts Kurum Holding amongst the most prominent and respected industrial corporations in Albania. With its production at international standards and trusted brand image, the company strengthens this status year by year. Albania serves as the Holding’s production base in the Balkans. Kurum Holding’s activities here are concentrated primarily around iron-steel production and lime and oxygen production this industry requires.
The proximity of the Kurum International to the market and logistic advantages, creates countless opportunities for the company not only in Albania, but throughout the region. Despite the drop in the customs duties, especially the high production costs of iron-steel exports and certain advantages gained in the costs of production makes this investment in Albania even more important for the Holding.
Kurum International has an annual production capacity of 550,000 tons for hot rolled structural iron and 400,000 tons for liquid steel at its smelter and rolling mill facilities built on 78,918 m2 covered and 208,632 m2 open space. Having the potential to meet Albania’s total long-range product requirements single handedly, these facilities are being further upgraded daily through investments in renovation.
Having also acquired, with the investments made in 2006, the capability to produce 60 mm to 140 mm-range profiled iron at a 120,000-ton capacity, these facilities have given Kurum International an unrivalled status in the region.
Kurum International has the largest production capacity in the Balkans; it converts the ingot iron produced in its own smelters into structural iron in its rolling mill section of the factory complex. While most of the raw materials required by the smelter installations are acquired from the domestic market, growing capacity also necessities scrap imports from abroad.

Description of the project
Kurum Elbasan Steel operates with Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) technology, smelting ferrous metal scrap. Globally, scrap supply moves into difficult times, a situation that puts Elbasan Steel and similar factories in vulnerable situation since there is no more adequate scrap in Albania to operate the factories at full capacity. The company has invested in leveling off environmental pollution, but the steel plant, in the long run, must shift to modern technologies and less-scrap, more pig iron or sponge iron in order to survive. Previously, Elbasan Steel was incepted as an integrated plant processing iron and ferro-nickel. In that respect, there is abundant ferro-nickel, and titano-magnetite resource in Albania that is given for utilization to Kurum Elbasan Steel, located 90 km from Durres. The reserves have shown to be promising, together with available coal that would yield as much as 6,000kcal.

Primary objective of Steel Factory at Elbasan
is to increase production while retaining the environmental hazards at lowest possible levels. The objective of the proposed project activity is to reduce GHG by introducing different energy efficiency measures. By increasing energy efficiency in the industry of high energy intensity, the project will generate GHG emission reductions, which would come from reductions in heavy fuel oil and electricity consumption.
As an example, a 60-tons Electric Arc Furnace consumes approximately 800,000 kWh/day of electricity to produce steel billets through continuous casting. Three graphite electrodes conduct the electrical current and form the arc for the metallic charge. The high temperatures facilitate the melting of every steel grade irrespective of the charge (scrap, sponge iron, hot metal or any related mixture).
Due to the utilization of electric arc furnace technology, the electricity consumption is growing steadily. Given that the electricity consumption last year was 212 GWh/year, the ERE gave to Kurum International sh.p.k. status of eligible customer. The company, however, hasn’t exercised yet this status effectively. Therefore, the company has to take very fast actions to reduce the cost of energy by increasing energy efficiency.
The factory consumes: electricity, heavy fuel oil (HFO); electricity (used widely in the arc furnace). Different energy efficiency measures and introduction of new arc technology could reduce electricity consumption by 25-28%. By improving burners of residual fuel oil, furnace fuel consumption could be reduced up to 20-23%.
Based on the market research, the Directly Reduced Iron (DRI) technology could be the best solution in the case of Kurum Elbasan Steel.
The advantage of this technology is that the minerals with iron ore could be reduced by using the local coal (or imported coal). The output would be sponge iron or pig iron that could be used in the Electric Arc Furnace, together with scrap, to minimize GHG emissions. Through such technologies, not only standard steel, but stainless steel and ferro-titan could also be produced in the Elbasan Steel Factory.

The possible energy savings measures
which could be undertaken, are listed below.

Steel mill
In this unit, the change of the electric arc furnace and burner system has been envisaged. The improvement of electricity arc could reduce electricity consumption by 22-25%. In further calculations, the lower estimation of 22% has been taken into account.
In order to optimize the burning process, control of O2 flow rate and analyzer of waste gasses have been envisaged. This will result in decrease of the HFO consumption. It is expected that improvement of burners would reduce electricity consumption by 20-23%. In further calculations, the lower estimation of 20% has been taken into account. Final calculation shows that annual GHG reductions in the steel mill could be 37.000 tCO2eqv.

Rolling mill
In this part of the Kurum complex, the main energy saving potential is related to the optimization of the burning process, which could be achieved through changing 17 burners in the process furnace and reusing of the high temperature waste gasses. This would result in the decrease of HFO consumption, as well as O2 necessary for the burning. Since the distance between steel and rolling units is almost 500m, the heat losses are significant, as the blades have temperature of app. 560°C after the melting process. In regard to this, the losses could be reduced by designing the most optimal transport of the blades from one unit to another. Under these circumstances, the blades are completely cooled before entering in the furnace, where the temperature reaches 1.100°C.
It has been estimated that improvement of electric efficiency could reduce electricity consumption by 10-13% in the rolling mill. In further calculations, the lower estimation of 10% has been taken into account. Energy efficiency, due to transportation of blades in the thermal insulation "package" and due to increasing efficiency of burners, could result in reduction of consumption by 50-55%.
Final calculation shows that annual GHG emission reductions in the rolling mill could be 20.420 tCO2eqv.

Lime production unit
In this process unit exists the possibility to optimize the shaft furnace for melting limestone and coke, as well as to change the rotating system of the furnace’s bottom. This would result in the decrease of coke consumption, as well as in decrease of electricity consumption.
The improvement of energy efficiency could reduce electricity consumption by 10-12% in the lime production unit. In further calculations, the lower estimation of 10% has been taken into account. Energy efficiency, due to improvement of burning process of coke, would result in the consumption reduction of 22%. Final calculation shows that annual GHG emission reductions in the lime production unit could be 1.400 tons of CO2eqv.

Summary of energy savings and GHG reductions
As mentioned before, there are three groups of energy efficiency measures which need to be undertaken, in order to obtain optimal electricity and fuel savings and GHG emission reductions. Total annual GHG emission reductions are shown in the following figure.
It is estimated that the project has a capacity to avoid emission of app. 588.000 tCO2eq for the period 2008-2018 (with the steady production intensity). The project will considerably contribute to sustainable development by mitigating the negative effects which are at the present are very high, due to intensive energy consumption and GHG emissions per unit of production.
According to the preliminary assessment done by Kurum the total investment costs for all measures defined above can be up to 64 millions EUR.

Text and pictures source: Ambiente Balcani and Kurum Holding web pages.