ArcelorMittal commissions US$63.2m energy recovery and reuse project

Posted on 18 December 2012

The project produces 333,000 MWh of electricity per year, providing significant energy and environmental benefits to ArcelorMittal and the Northwest Indiana region.

For nearly three months, ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor has been recycling blast furnace gas to produce high pressure steam used to power the facility. On 17 December 2012, representatives from ArcelorMittal and the United Steelworkers joined together with Gil Sperling, Senior Advisor, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy within the US Department of Energy (DOE), and various local and state officials to officially commission the 'energy recovery and reuse 504 boiler project'.

'ArcelorMittal is proud to have safely completed the project - one of only nine projects selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for critical funding,' said Wendell Carter, vice president and general manager, ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor. 'Investments such as the DOE funding ensure the sustainability of steelmaking in Northwest Indiana, while supporting our commitments to energy efficiency and superior environmental performance.'

ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor is the largest steel mill in North America and home to no. 7 blast furnace, the largest blast furnace in the United States. Approximately 78 per cent of the blast furnace gas that is generated by the blast furnace is used for heating stoves at no. 7 and for making steam at no. 5 boiler house. Until recently, the remaining 22 per cent, or 46bn cubic feet (ft3), of blast furnace gas per year was wasted when it was flared (ignited and exhausted) into the atmosphere.

Increase own power generation while reducing emissions

In an effort to displace purchased electric energy and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, ArcelorMittal researched and identified an opportunity to transfer blast furnace gas from a flare at no. 7 blast furnace to a new boiler capable of generating steam and electricity. In November 2009, ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor was awarded a matching grant of US$31.6m from the U.S. Department of Energy, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for its proposed energy recovery and reuse 504 boiler project. 

The US$63.2m project involved the construction of a new water system and modifications to the existing no. 5 boiler house to add a high efficiency, energy recovery BFG-fired boiler that practically eliminates flaring of blast furnace gas. The new boiler is located adjacent to and interconnected with the existing no. 5 boiler house. Existing equipment at no. 5 boiler house continues to operate as it has for many years, while the new boiler provides additional capacity to consume blast furnace gas and generate steam. 

'The project is a major step forward for Northwest Indiana jobs,' said US Congressman Pete Visclosky (D-IN). 'With the new boiler, the facility will improve its internal power generation, reduce carbon emissions, and provide a reliable source of electric power for a lower price. Each of these efficiencies will improve competitiveness, which means good-paying jobs for Northwest Indiana workers. I thank the City of East Chicago, Mayor Anthony Copeland, Representative Earl Harris, Senator Lonnie Randolph, the United Steelworkers, ArcelorMittal, and the U.S. Department of Energy for their unrelenting efforts to bring this project to completion.'

During the peak of construction, the project employed approximately 200 local trades' people, as well as countless jobs at the companies that supplied the boiler and related equipment. There were more than 400 separate purchase orders issued by ArcelorMittal on this project, all with companies operating within the United States.  More than one third of the total project cost was spent on suppliers located in the Northwest Indiana–Chicagoland region.

The energy recovery and reuse 504 boiler project provides the following benefits:

  • Uses 46bn ft3 of waste blast furnace gases to generate 350,000lbs. of steam per hour
  • Generates 333,000MWh of power a year, which is equivalent to the electricity needs of about 30,000 homes
  • Reduces CO2 emissions by 340,000 tons a year
  • Saves the facility nearly US$20m in energy costs, which has the effect of lowering the production costs of steel by US$5 per ton
  • Enhances the competitiveness of the plant, which directly employs approximately 6,000 and supports an additional 26,800 indirect jobs

With support from the DOE grant, along with 50 per cent from capital investments of ArcelorMittal, the return on investment is 29 per cent and simple payback - the amount of time it will take to recover the initial investment - is 1.58 years.

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