New Technology Brings Low Emission Iron and Steelmaking Closer

Posted 29-06-2023
Category News

Researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) have developed a new type of sinster that could accelerate the iron and steelmaking industry’s efforts to reduce the overall carbon emissions by requiring over 20% less coking coal. 

Researchers from UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) in collaboration with industry partners Rio Tinto and Shougang Group , have developed a novel sinter that is both more efficient to use but is also less carbon intensive. 

Sinter is the primary feed material that goes into making iron within a blast furnace. It is created at a sinter plant by blending several materials, most importantly very fine iron-ore into agglomerates under extreme heat to create a solid material, which improves the performance of iron ore fines in blast furnaces. 

Dr Xiaodong Ma the leader of SMI’s High Temperature Processing Programs stated that the novel sinter will allow the industry to reduce emissions at both the blast furnace and the sinter plant. 

High Temperature Processing Program Leader Dr Xiaodong Ma in the labs at UQ

Dr Ma additionally stated that “Sinter is an important part of the ironmaking process, it constitutes roughly 70% of the charging material that is added to a blast furnace and therefore ultimately influences the industry’s emissions”. 

When discussing carbon and emissions, you are really talking about two stages, those being the emissions created when the sinter itself is made and then the emissions created by the furnace in which the sinter is used. 

“The sinter we have developed, which is now the intellectual property of Shougang Group , addresses both of the stages however it has a particularly significant effect on the amount of coke that is consumed at the sinter plant” Dr Ma explained. 

Additionally, It can reduce the amount of coking coal in the sinter by 23%, that being a large amount when considering the volumes of sinter used within the industry.

Dr Ma also expressed that at the blast furnace stage , it has improved the reducibility and a low slag volume therefore being more efficient and requires blast furnaces to consume a smaller amount of coking coal.

This is followed by Dr Ma stating that the results of this have been proven both in their own labs at The University of Queensland and then again in pilot scale trials that were run by the Shougang Group. 

The project is the latest in a series that brings together both the metal miners and metal makers within the industry in which both have an interest in gaining a better understanding of their product and reducing carbon emissions. 

Dr Xiadong Ma presented this project as part of the 2023 World Mining Congress’s ‘Processing & Refining’ on the 29th of June 2023.  


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