Aintzane Soto Larzabal
R&D Process Researcher at Sidenor I+D
The current lines of research are mainly focused on Circular Economy, Energy Efficiency and Industry 4.0. This fact acquires special importance in the steel industry, particularly in terms of waste management. This aspect has been thoroughly researched over the past few decades, whereby technological solutions for slags, melting shop dust or scales were obtained. However, no systematic and integral results were achieved in the management of refractory waste.
Under this scenario, six years ago, Sidenor started a continuous improvement initiative with the aim of minimizing the refractory waste disposal in landfills. This initiative revealed a little explored and exploited market and implied the consolidation of the management of Magnesia-Carbon and Alumina reclaimed refractories at Sidenor. Moreover, in recent years, a remarkable and innovative achievement has been reached by valorising Isostatic scraps.
Trying to be more ambitious, Sidenor performed a thorough study of the different types of recovery waste generated and the potentially recoverable fractions, whereby a clear impact of tundish masses could be observed, for which no valorisation solution is currently available.
For the accomplishment of this challenging objective, the European project 5REFRACT LIFE Programme within the framework of the LIFE Programme was approved in 2018; it consists in analysing, in cooperation with refractory manufacturers such as MAGNA or Refralia, new high-value-added refractory products incorporating a significant amount of recycled refractories. This project includes solutions for the Magnesia-Carbon, Alumina and Isostatic waste as well as Magnesia masses, with the aim of strengthening the systematic and integral management of refractory waste at Sidenor.
Within the framework of the project, new Magnesia base and Alumina base products were developed, and many industrial trials were carried out in the Electric Arc Furnace, in the ladles, in the continuous casting tundishes as well as in other auxiliary elements in the steelworks. For safety and quality reasons, all new products have been tested in applications whose criticality is lower than that of the original use, and the results have positively confirmed the technical feasibility of the solutions.