India is likely to be the first nation to get access to Finex technology in steel production as South Korean steel giant POSCO has decided to introduce this technical application in steel production at its plant in Orissa and in the joint venture with Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) at Bokaro, according to a Commodity Online article.
SAIL and POSCO had already entered into an agreement for establishing a joint venture company for production of cold-rolled non-oriented (CRNO) products, and formation of a JV company with a Finex facility at Bokaro or any other location.
It is understood that the POSCO steel plant in Orissa will be the world’s first steel plant project to start with Finex and a mini flat mill. These processes are environment-friendly technologies with high productivity and cost effectiveness.
According to a Business Standard article, India’s government gave the steel industry a roadmap to lift crude steel capacity to 150 million metric tons in the last year of the 12th plan and then to 180-200 million tons by 2020 from the current 80 million tons.
The report quoted SAIL Chairman Chandra Sekhar Verma as saying that “steelmakers will have to embrace breakthrough ideas to be able to run our mills at new efficiency levels, allowing us to make steel with higher strength to weight ratio.” Capacity growth here will be sustainable, provided the industry makes use of progressive technologies occurring periodically, from raw material uses to finishing of steel to utilization of mill waste, Verma was quoted as saying.
According to Commodity Online, Finex technology is innovative, cost-effective and sustainable, developed by POSCO with its engineering partner, Siemens; innovative because it directly uses iron ore fines and non-coking coal without coking and sintering processes. It is cost-competitive because it uses those low-grade raw materials, and is sustainable and environmentally friendly compared to the conventional blast furnace. It emits significantly lower amounts of nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and dust. It also has great potential for reducing carbon dioxide.
POSCO claims that the mini flat mills decisively shorten the production chain from crude steel to hot rolled strip. In conventional hot strip production, the route runs from the continuous slab caster via storage and dressing, then onwards through the slab reheating furnace to the hot strip mill with its roughing train. The MFM technology, however, enables direct casting and rolling continuously, which are discontinuous in the conventional process. This process allows savings in investment, energy consumption and operating costs.
POSCO finally succeeded in innovative technology development after 15 years; in 1992, POSCO began to research replacing blast furnaces. Its total R&D investment to develop the Finex process and to succeed in commercializing it was 554.1 billion won (US $596 million).
The Korean government played a big role in Finex technology development and commercialization. In 1990, the government created a “Korean new steel R&D association” aimed at increasing the Korean steel industry’s competitiveness, and has funded the research with 22.2 billion won since 1992.
The World Steel Association (WSA) has said before that India is expected to show strong growth in steel use in the coming years due to its strong domestic economy, massive infrastructure needs and expansion of industrial production.
In 2011, India’s steel use is forecast to grow by 13.3 percent to reach 68.7 million tons. In 2012, the growth rate is forecast to accelerate further to 14.3 percent, according to WSA estimates.
TC Malhotra contributes to MetalMiner from New Delhi.