Cooling System for Blast Furnace
- Word count: 1897
- Category: Carbon
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A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron. In a blast furnace, fuel, ore, and flux (limestone) are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air (sometimes with oxygen enrichment) is blown into the lower section of the furnace, so that the chemical reactions take place throughout the furnace as the material moves downward. The end products are usually molten metal and slag phases tapped from the bottom, and flue gases exiting from the top of the furnace. The downward flow of the ore and flux in contact with an upflow of hot, carbon monoxide-rich combustion gases is a countercurrent exchange process. Blast furnaces are to be contrasted with air furnaces (such as reverberatory furnaces), which were naturally aspirated, usually by the convection of hot gases in a chimney flue. According to this broad definition, bloomeries for iron, blowing houses for tin, and smelt mills for lead would be classified as blast furnaces.
However, the term has usually been limited to those used for smelting iron ore to produce pig iron, an intermediate material used in the production of commercial iron and steel. The blast furnace remains an important part of modern iron production. Modern furnaces are highly efficient, including Cowper stoves to pre-heat the blast air and employ recovery systems to extract the heat from the hot gases exiting the furnace. Competition in industry drives higher production rates. The largest blast furnaces have a volume around 5580 m3 (190,000 cu ft) and can produce around 80,000 tonnes (88,000 short tons) of iron per week. This is a great increase from the typical 18th-century furnaces, which averaged about 360 tonnes (400 short tons) per year. Variations of the blast furnace, such as the Swedish electric blast furnace, have been developed in countries which have no native coal resources. [pic]
Blast furnace placed in an installation
1. Iron ore + limestone sinter
4. Feedstock inlet
5. Layer of coke
6. Layer of sinter pellets of ore and limestone
7. Hot blast (around 1200 °C)
8. Removal of slag
9. Tapping of molten pig iron
10. Slag pot
11. Torpedo car for pig iron
12. Dust cyclone for separation of solid particles
13. Cowper stoves for hot blast
14. Smoke outlet (can be redirected to carbon capture & storage (CCS) tank) 15: Feed air for Cowper stoves (air pre-heaters)
16. Powdered coal
17. Coke oven
19. Blast furnace gas downcomer
Modern furnaces are equipped with an array of supporting facilities to increase efficiency, such as ore storage yards where barges are unloaded. The raw materials are transferred to the stockhouse complex by ore bridges, or rail hoppers and ore transfer cars. Rail-mounted scale cars or computer controlled weight hoppers weigh out the various raw materials to yield the desired hot metal and slag chemistry. The raw materials are brought to the top of the blast furnace via a skip car powered by winches or conveyor belts. There are different ways in which the raw materials are charged into the blast furnace. Some blast furnaces use a “double bell” system where two “bells” are used to control the entry of raw material into the blast furnace. The purpose of the two bells is to minimize the loss of hot gases in the blast furnace. First, the raw materials are emptied into the upper or small bell which then opens to empty the charge into the large bell. The small bell then closes, to seal the blast furnace, while the large bell rotates to provide specific distribution of materials before dispensing the charge into the blast furnace.
A more recent design is to use a “bell-less” system. These systems use multiple hoppers to contain each raw material, which is then discharged into the blast furnace through valves. These valves are more accurate at controlling how much of each constituent is added, as compared to the skip or conveyor system, thereby increasing the efficiency of the furnace. Some of these bell-less systems also implement a discharge chute in the throat of the furnace(as with the Paul Wurth top) in order to precisely control where the charge is placed. The iron making blast furnace itself is built in the form of a tall structure, lined with refractory brick, and profiled to allow for expansion of the charged materials as they heat up in the furnace during their descent, and subsequent reduction in size as melting starts to occur. Coke, limestone flux, and iron ore (iron oxide) are charged into the top of the furnace in a precise filling order which helps control gas flow and the chemical reactions inside the furnace. Four “uptakes” allow the hot, dirty gas high in carbon monoxide content to exit the furnace throat, while “bleeder valves” protect the top of the furnace from sudden gas pressure surges.
The coarse particles in the exhaust gas settle in the “dust catcher” and are dumped into a railroad car or truck for disposal, while the gas itself flows through a venturi scrubber and/or electrostatic precipitators and a gas cooler to reduce the temperature of the cleaned gas. The “casthouse” at the bottom half of the furnace contains the bustle pipe, water cooled copper tuyeres and the equipment for casting the liquid iron and slag. Once a “taphole” is drilled through the refractory clay plug, liquid iron and slag flow down a trough through a “skimmer” opening, separating the iron and slag.
Modern, larger blast furnaces may have as many as four tapholes and two casthouses. Once the pig iron and slag has been tapped, the taphole is again plugged with refractory clay. The tuyeres are used to implement a hot blast, which is used to increase the efficiency of the blast furnace. The hot blast is directed into the furnace through water-cooled copper nozzles called tuyeres near the base. The hot blast temperature can be from 900 °C to 1300 °C (1600 °F to 2300 °F) depending on the stove design and condition. The temperatures they deal with may be 2000 °C to 2300 °C (3600 °F to 4200 °F). Oil, tar, natural gas, powdered coal and oxygen can also be injected into the furnace at tuyere level to combine with the coke to release additional energy and increase the percentage of reducing gases present which is necessary to increase productivity.
Blast furnace diagram
1. Hot blast from Cowper stoves
2. Melting zone (bosh)
3. Reduction zone of ferrous oxide (barrel)
4. Reduction zone of ferric oxide (stack)
5. Pre-heating zone (throat)
6. Feed of ore, limestone, and coke
7. Exhaust gases
8. Column of ore, coke and limestone
9. Removal of slag
10. Tapping of molten pig iron
11. Collection of waste gases
Process engineering and chemistry
Blast furnaces differ from bloomeries and reverberatory furnaces in that in latter, flue gas is in intimate contact with the iron, allowing carbon dioxide to dissolve in the iron, which lowers the melting point and changes the iron into pig iron. The intimate contact of flue gas with the iron causes contamination with sulfur if it is present in the fuel. Historically, to prevent contamination from sulfur, the best quality iron was produced with charcoal. The blast furnaces operates as a countercurrent exchange process whereas a bloomery does not. Another difference is that bloomeries operate as a batch process while blast furnaces operate continuously for long periods because they are difficult to start up and shut down. See: Continuous production The main chemical reaction producing the molten iron is:
Fe2O3 + 3CO → 2Fe + 3CO2
This reaction might be divided into multiple steps, with the first being that preheated blast air blown into the furnace reacts with the carbon in the form of coke to produce carbon monoxide and heat: 2 C(s) + O2(g) → 2 CO(g)
The hot carbon monoxide is the reducing agent for the iron ore and reacts with the iron oxide to produce molten iron and carbon dioxide. Depending on the temperature in the different parts of the furnace (warmest at the bottom) the iron is reduced in several steps. At the top, where the temperature usually is in the range between 200 °C and 700 °C, the iron oxide is partially reduced to iron(II,III) oxide, Fe3O4. 3 Fe2O3(s) + CO(g) → 2 Fe3O4(s) + CO2(g)
At temperatures around 850 °C, further down in the furnace, the iron(II,III) is reduced further to iron(II) oxide: Fe3O4(s) + CO(g) → 3 FeO(s) + CO2(g) Hot carbon dioxide, unreacted carbon monoxide, and nitrogen from the air pass up through the furnace as fresh feed material travels down into the reaction zone. As the material travels downward, the counter-current gases both preheat the feed charge and decompose the limestone to calcium oxide and carbon dioxide: CaCO3(s) → CaO(s) + CO2(g)
As the iron(II) oxide moves down to the area with higher temperatures, ranging up to 1200 °C degrees, it is reduced further to iron metal: FeO(s) + CO(g) → Fe(s) + CO2(g)
The carbon dioxide formed in this process is re-reduced to carbon monoxide by the coke: C(s) + CO2(g) → 2 CO(g)
The temperature-dependent equilibrium controlling the gas atmosphere in the furnace is called the Boudouard reaction: 2CO [pic]CO2 + C
The decomposition of limestone in the middle zones of the furnace proceeds according to the following reaction: CaCO3 → CaO + CO2
The calcium oxide formed by decomposition reacts with various acidic impurities in the iron (notably silica), to form a fayalitic slag which is essentially calcium silicate, CaSiO3: SiO2 + CaO → CaSiO3
The “pig iron” produced by the blast furnace has a relatively high carbon content of around 4–5%, making it very brittle, and of limited immediate commercial use. Some pig iron is used to make cast iron. The majority of pig iron produced by blast furnaces undergoes further processing to reduce the carbon content and produce various grades of steel used for construction materials, automobiles, ships and machinery. Although the efficiency of blast furnaces is constantly evolving, the chemical process inside the blast furnace remains the same. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute: “Blast furnaces will survive into the next millennium because the larger, efficient furnaces can produce hot metal at costs competitive with other iron making technologies.” One of the biggest drawbacks of the blast furnaces is the inevitable carbon dioxide production as iron is reduced from iron oxides by carbon and there is no economical substitute – steelmaking is one of the unavoidable industrial contributors of the CO2 emissions in the world (see greenhouse gases).
The challenge set by the greenhouse gas emissions of the blast furnace is being addressed in an on-going European Program called ULCOS (Ultra Low CO2 Steelmaking). Several new process routes have been proposed and investigated in depth to cut specific emissions (CO2 per ton of steel) by at least 50%. Some rely on the capture and further storage (CCS) of CO2, while others choose decarbonizing iron and steel production, by turning to hydrogen, electricity and biomass. In the nearer term, a technology that incorporates CCS into the blast furnace process itself and is called the Top-Gas Recycling Blast Furnace is under development, with a scale-up to a commercial size blast furnace under way. The technology should be fully demonstrated by the end of the 2010s, in line with the timeline set, for example, by the EU to cut emissions significantly. Broad deployment could take place from 2020 on.