New steel converter model saves energy, time, raw materials and the environment
The development of steel grades has become significantly faster due to a computationally efficient new simulation programme called SteelConverterSimulator. The new steel converter model saves energy, time, raw materials and the environment.
The model is a powerful tool due to its solid physical basis and its sufficient simplicity. Simulation tools of this kind have not been released anywhere else in the world.
The development of steel grades has become significantly faster due to a computationally efficient new simulation programme called SteelConverterSimulator. The new steel converter model saves energy, time, raw materials and the environment. The model is a powerful tool due to its solid physical basis and its sufficient simplicity. Simulation tools of this kind have not been released anywhere else in the world.
The model has been developed in the ELEMET programme led by FIMECC. Participants include Aalto University, Outokumpu, Rautaruukki Corporation, the University of Oulu and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
A simulation model whose strength is in simplicity
Approximately 1,300 million tonnes of steel are produced globally every year. There are thousands of steel grades whose properties can be modified according to the purpose of use. Steel grades include high-strength steels, acid-proof steels, stainless steels, wear-resistant steels and steels that are easy to weld.
“It often takes a long time before a new steel grade can be brought to the market, but by using a simple simulation model the composition can be developed in a game-like manner without physically making any tests at a production plant,” says the father of the idea, researcher Mika Järvinen from the Aalto University Department of Energy Technology.
Usually it takes about one hour to perform one melt with a 150-tonne steel converter. The process releases approximately 10,000 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide and 10,000 kilogrammes of slag. The computational time of the simulation model is only approximately 30 seconds, so using the model can be 120 times faster than performing the actual process when alternative solutions are being tested. Moreover, using the model does not release any emissions.
“Efficient modelling enables us to quickly find out what can be done to the composition of the steel within the limits of natural laws and how the results can be reached with the lowest possible material costs,” Järvinen says.
Product development without random testing
The idea of the computationally efficient steel converter model is simple: Only those areas where essential phenomena take place are calculated accurately. First, the phenomena taking place around one gas bubble were determined. This data was then transferred to the reaction zone of the actual process by using module thinking.
“The modules used in the AOD processes are the plug flow reactor of the area where the gas bubbles rise and the tank reactors used for modelling the molten steel and slag,” says Järvinen.
The model is based on natural laws and many of its variables are measurable. Due to this physical basis, the number of variables based on educated guesses has been minimised. The model has been widely compared with industry processes and it reflects reality well. The clear user interface also makes it efficient to use. In the future, the aim is to expand the model by adding modules for e.g. top blowing.
“The computational time is radically shorter than when using other modelling methods and results are achieved faster than when performing a real process. This means that the model can be used as an online control model for converters and reactors,” says professor Timo Fabritius from the University of Oulu Centre for Advanced Steel Research.
Quick and emission-free
As the Finnish steel industry is moving towards manufacturing more and more challenging steel grades, this model can help to select the correct type of action. Using simulation instead of experimental processes saves costs as well as the environment.
“The smaller the unit emissions of the Finnish steel industry are, the more probable it is that foreign parties will show interest in our technology,” says CEO Harri Kulmala from FIMECC.
Outokumpu has already used the steel converter model and received positive results. In the future, it will be possible to apply the model to the chemical industry in addition to metallurgy.
For more information please contact
CEO Harri Kulmala, FIMECC Oy
tel. 040 840 6380
harri.kulmala [at] fimecc [dot] com
Professor, D.Sc.(Tech.) Timo Fabritius,
Centre for Advanced Steels Research, University of Oulu
tel. 040 554 6683
timo.fabritius [at] oulu [dot] fi
Researcher (Post doc), D.Sc.(Tech.) Mika Järvinen
Department of Energy Technology, Aalto University
tel. 09 4702 3657
mika.jarvinen [at] aalto [dot] fi
Press photos: http://www.fimecc.com/fi/index.php/Medialle