Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
PLAUL, F.J.; BOHM, C. and SCHENK, J.L.. Fluidized-bed technology for the production of iron products for steelmaking. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2009, vol.109, n.2, pp. 121-128. ISSN 2411-9717.
The dominating technologies for steelmaking are the basic oxygen furnace (BOF or LD process, Linz-Donawitz) and the electric-arc furnace (EAF). The main iron input materials for both are liquid iron as hot metal, or solid iron as pig iron, DRI (direct reduced iron), HBI (hot briquetted iron) and scrap. Hot metal, pig iron (i.e., solidified hot metal) and DRI/HBI are virgin iron materials, which have to be produced from iron ore by so-called ironmaking technologies. The family of ironmaking technologies includes three process routes: blast furnace, smelting reduction and direct reduction. Driven by steadily increasing costs of raw materials in the last two decades, the sector has seen a number of new developments in ironmaking technologies, developments based on fluidized-bed technology. The main advantage of a fluidized-bed technology is that fine iron ore can be directly charged to the process without prior treatment; it does away with agglomeration and its concomitant cost, a step practised in blast-furnace, COREX® and MIDREX® processes. With Posco of South Korea, Siemens VAI Metals Technologies has successfully developed the FINEX® process, a smelting reduction based on the direct use of iron ore fines to produce hot metal. The key technology is the four-stage, bubbling fluidized-bed-reactor system, in which fine iron ore is reduced to DRI fines in a countercurrent flow with a reducing gas generated by coal gasification. Beside surveying the current state of the art, this paper discusses the technological principles of smelting-reduction and direct-reduction processes. The status of FINEX® and the outlook for further developments are described. Crucial to the successful development of the new ironmaking technologies for the direct use of fine ore was the scaling up of the fluidized-bed reactor system, which demonstrated new design features.