The new rolling mill: technology and sustainability

by | Apr 28, 2023 | News

Innovation in steelmaking means local sustainability

The Smart Beam Manufacturing rolling mill in San Zeno, integrated with the existing steel mill, has been designed to be state-of-the-art in terms of environmental performance. It is compliant with the forthcoming BAT limits that have not come into force yet. Thanks to the best technical plant, management, and control solutions, Duferco TP safeguards the environment through extremely low emission levels in all the relevant environmental matrices, optimising all processes to the highest level.

The rolling mill has been designed to be at the forefront in terms of sustainability, technology, and innovation. It is the first in the whole of Europe to run on totally renewable energy thanks to a multi-year PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) for the purchase of electricity at a fixed price signed with a wind power producer. Specifically, the PPA will allow the entire San Zeno Naviglio site to be powered by 65 million KWh, resulting in indirect C02 savings of 28,000 tonnes per year.

Solar energy also plays a role: In March, Duferco Travi e Profilati concluded a project together with BM Group, a leading Italian company in the installation of photovoltaic panels, for the installation of a photovoltaic system consisting of 10,620 photovoltaic modules of 470 W each for a total peak power of 4,991.4 KW. The system will be placed on the roof of the new rolling mill plant and will come into operation between summer and autumn 2023.

The electricity produced by the photovoltaic system, amounting to approximately 5,000,000 KWh/year, will be used by the new rolling mill preventing the emission into the atmosphere of approximately 2,166 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The Group is also considering a further expansion, which is still under debate, envisaging more photovoltaic modules.

The rolling mill provides the Group with a fully verticalized production plant, which optimises the overall efficiency of the process in all aspects. In particular, environmental sustainability is achieved with the reheating furnace located near the pre-existing continuous castings that will allow for the rolling of semi-finished products that are still partially hot, with a considerable reduction in the amount of gas required for reheating up to the processing temperature Moreover intercompany transport between the steel mill and the peripheral rolling mills is dramatically reduced with a consequent cut in CO2 emissions by road and rail transport.

The new rolling mill also incorporates the following innovations: the reheating furnace is equipped with hydromethane and methane injection burners and is designed to run on alternative fuels, such as hydrogen or bioethanol, a major step in the direction of decarbonisation.

The San Zeno ‘Green’ rolling mill also aims at sustainability in terms of water recovery. The water treatment plant of the reheating furnace has a completely closed cycle, i.e., no water reintegration is needed, thanks to Air Cooler, an innovative cooling technology. Moreover, the water treatment plant of the new rolling mill has been designed to achieve maximum savings and optimize consumption thanks to its innovative water recovery technology.

The Duferco group is proud of the “high-impact technological innovation” acknowledgement awarded by MiSE, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, to the rolling mill project, and of its unique status in terms of circular economy: about 50% of the steel requirements for the construction of the new buildings, approximately 7,600 tons, have been covered by its own production. Main tangible objectives are: reduction of gas consumption by 20% compared to comparable plants; reduction of gas consumption by 10% with the application of hot charge; reduction of NOx below 150mg/Nm3 (average of traditional plants: 200-300); reduction of electricity consumption by 10% compared to traditional plants (ref. 0.11 MWh/t); reduction of water consumption below 1m3/t (compared to 1.6 m3t of traditional plants); increase of material yield up to 96% of input material.

“Innovating in steelmaking means realising that in Europe the only future of this business is based on total local sustainability. With the latest technology, big data and big data analysis – the steelmaking process generates millions of data that can be put to good use – to save energy and water, to enhance safety, to improve product quality. Innovation and sustainability in steelmaking are one and the same. AI is driving an epic paradigm shift, even though human empathy, competence, concentration, and determination are indispensable ingredients that a machine cannot replace”explained Antonio Gozzi, President of Duferco Italia Holding.