Advanced technologies applied throughout the process to gain efficiencies, improve quality and business performance.
Steel manufacturing methods and processes must evolve with increasing speed to accommodate market demands, competitive pressures, new economic realities and governmental regulations. Thermo Fisher Scientific continues to be your most trusted industry partner in developing and applying technologies that improve the steel manufacturing process with a focus on increasing your profitability.
Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis/Pulsed Fast Thermal Neutron Activation (PGNAA/PFTNA)
Used for real-time quality control in process optimization, PGNAA/PFTNA provides high frequency online elemental analysis of an entire raw material process stream. Analyzers using PGNAA/PFTNA are situated directly on the conveyor belt and penetrate the whole raw material cross-section, delivering minute-by-minute, uniform measurement of the entire material stream, not just a sample.
PGNAA/PFTNA delivers an advantage over other surface analysis technologies such as X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and spectral analysis technologies that can only measure limited depths and surface areas which may not be representative of the entire amount of material on the belt. Steel manufacturers can benefit from this technology to enhance quality control and improve process efficiencies.
Prompt gamma neutron activation analysis and pulsed fast thermal neutron activation are based on a subatomic reaction between a low energy neutron and the nucleus of an atom. When a thermal, or rather low energy neutron (<0.025 eV) approaches near enough to, or collides with, a nucleus of an atom, an interaction between the neutron and the nucleus takes place. Energy from the neutron is transferred to the nucleus and temporarily elevates it to an excited energy state. The energy is then released, nearly instantaneously, in the form of a gamma ray.
High accuracy electronic weight scale technology is used on conveyors and supplies real-time volume by weight information to assist both with the accounting of material received from the mine and in the control of feed into the milling circuit. A belt scale system consists of three major elements: the weighing carriage with load cell(s) measures the weight of material on the belt; the belt speed sensor and electronic integrator joins the output signals from the scale load cell(s); and a speed sensor to monitor the rate of material flow and the total material passed over the scale.
Weighbelt feeders deliver material through an inlet feed section equipped with a manually adjustable vertical slide gate to control material height. The scale carriage/ weighbridge assembly measures the gravitational force of the material and converts this force measurement into an electrical output signal proportional to belt loading. A digital speed sensor continuously monitors the belt speed. The microprocessor-based electronics integrate the two signals to produce and display a true rate and a total weight fed. The use of this technology enables real-time quality control and process efficiency and is available with our Ramsey Conveyer Belt Systems and Weighbelt Feeders.
Process Mass Spectrometry
A key requirement in steel production is to ensure furnaces are operating at maximum efficiency. Analysis of the off-gas from the furnace is a vital part of the process control strategy to control and optimize the conversion of carbon to carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Process mass spectrometers provide real time off-gas analysis data to furnace control systems and dynamic control models, resulting in significant process benefits.
The ability to measure a wide range of components on a single analyzer, coupled with advanced calibration, data transmission, and self-diagnostic software, makes the modern mass spectrometer ideal for integration into the plant. On blast furnaces, superior gas analysis is used to calculate gas efficiency, mass & heat balances, and heat profiles through probe analysis, as well as being an essential tool in the early detection of cooling water leaks and sample system failures.
Steel is often produced from scrap metal, which must be carefully screened to prevent radioactive material from contaminating the scrap metal recycling stream. Radiation detection technology used in scrap metal recycling includes portal monitoring systems for incoming raw materials, and wireless grapple-mounted radiation detection systems to monitor scrap piles in the facility. Handheld radiation detection devices provide real time detection of gamma radiation with accurate dose rate measurements, verify the radioactive find, and assess whether radioactivity is of natural or artificial (man-made) origin. Portable devices with high sensitivity neutron response and alarm threshold can be worn to monitor gamma sensitivity and energy compensated dose rate measurement.
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. XRF analyzers work by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-rays emitted from a sample when excited by a primary X-ray source. Each of the elements present in a sample produces a set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays, or unique "fingerprints.” These fingerprints are distinct for each element, making XRF analysis an excellent tool for quantitative and qualitative measurements. In steel manufacturing, XRF is used for analysis of raw materials, slags, and alloys.
Thickness and Coating Measurement
Non-contact and non-destructive thickness and coating weight measurements are needed to achieve high product quality and maximum productivity. Online thickness gauges for hot- and cold-rolling mills provide precise, real-time measurements during high-speed production of steel plate and sheet. For zinc-coated steel sheet, the online hot coating weight gauge provides fast feedback for coating control using well-established X-ray fluorescence (XRF). When coupled with a closed-loop coating weight control system, raw zinc consumption can be minimized, resulting in significant economic savings.
Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES)
Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES) uses Arc/Spark excitation to perform rapid elemental analysis of solid metallic samples, from trace to percent element concentration levels. This technique meets the most demanding analytical needs of metallurgical industries and analysis laboratories, from production control to R&D, and from incoming material inspection to scrap sorting. OES metal analyzers can also be used for fast, online evaluation of non-metallic micro-inclusions.
Steel manufacturers can further drive process control and efficiencies in their applications with laboratory automation technologies. Both OES and XRF spectrometers can be fully automated to increase throughput, improve analysis accuracy, and decrease costs. This level of automation delivers a complete laboratory workflow solution and can reduce response times, increase sample processing cadence, and improve the availability of automatic sample preparation in highly critical production control environments.
Our Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) monitor a complete spectrum of process gases during various stages of production, including but not limited to: SO2, NOx, CO, CO2, H2S, TRS, THC, Hg, O2, HCl, and Total Sulfur using a combination of technologies, depending on your requirements for elemental detection and measurement. These technologies can include Nondispersive Infrared (NDIR), used to measure carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, HCl, and other infrared-absorbing gases; Chemiluminescence for the measurement of nitrogen-based compounds; Pulsed Fluorescence for the determination of SO2; Flame Ionization Detection (FID) for hydrocarbons measurement to meet the criterion of USEPA Methods 25A and 25B; Atomic Fluorescence; transmissometers for opacity monitoring; cross-stack and in-stack ultrasonic monitors for determining flow of gas stream; and full extractive and dilution extractive probes. Using a combination of these technologies, you can achieve compliance with regulatory guidelines while meeting your own specific air quality monitoring needs. These systems are designed to meet US EPA 40CFR Parts 60 and 75 standards while providing unsurpassed sensitivity, accuracy and reliability.