By – Alkesh Tyagi : Iron and Steel Industry is one of the largest consumers of energy. The cost of energy accounts for nearly one third of the cost production of the steel. To be globally competitive in the era of liberalisation it is imperative to upgrade the design of equipments and optimize the operational parameters.
The Indian steel industry is one of the unique steel industries in the world with different steel making processes. Steel production through recycling of scrap requires a much lesser amount of energy since reduction of ore is eliminated. In this sector energy consumption is high due to primitive design of furnaces and lack of know-how of energy efficient operations. In the developed countries about 50 percent of steel is produced through this route but in India it is relatively low due to low availability of scrap and high electricity charges.
The Indian Steel Re-Rolling Mill (SRRM) Sector comprises of about 1350 working mills spread in five clusters country wide i.e. Mandi Gobindgarh, Delhi, Kolkata, Nagpur and Chennai. Though technologically regressive, the SRRM Sector forms an important link in the over all supply chain of steel in the country. It also accounts for more than half of the demand for the primary steel producers. Loss of competitiveness and closures in the SRRM sectors will not only hit the individual manufacturers but will also be debilitating to the industry. India is witnessing a sharp increase in the production of steel. One of the main input in steel making, energy, forms a major component of cost. Increasing energy cost can single handedly jeopardize competitiveness and survival of individual firms as well as sustainability of growth in the industry. Efficient use of energy is thus imperative for containing costs, maintaining competitiveness and sustaining growth. This is especially true of the Steel Re-Rolling Mill (SRRM) Sector that comprises of small and medium enterprises with 75 per cent units in the small scale sector.
Conceding that future growth prospects of steel industry largely depend on efficient use of available energy resources it was recognized that small and medium enterprises not only need greater awareness but also technical, financial and institutional support in order to develop and adopt energy efficient technologies. Energy efficiency stems from cutting down on waste through the means of Reduction, Recovery and Recycling. Energy Efficient Technologies are win-win technologies as they reduce pollution on one hand and enhance profits on the other hand. A large scale capacity building initiative was planned for Rolling Mill Personnel to tap the energy saving potential in the sector.
The Ministry of Steel and UNDP/Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched a steel project for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in steel sector on “Removal of Barriers to Energy Efficient Improvement in Steel Re-rolling mills”. Started in September, 2004, the project period is for 5 years, with financial support of US$ 6.75 million from UNDP/ GEF and US$ 7.28 million from the Government (Steel Development Fund). The project is managed by a Project Steering Committee chaired by Secretary, Steel, the Project Advisory Committee chaired by Joint Secretary, Steel who also holds the additional charge as National Project Director (NPD). A Project Management Cell (PMC) was set up to execute the project having professionals from different fields and is headed by a National Project Coordinator (NPC).
At the beginning of the project, technology packages were identified which are economically viable and the same are being implemented in selected rolling mills known as “Model Units” from all over the country. So far, PMC have selected 34 re-rolling mills as Model Units which will implement these technologies and showcase the result to other units in the country for fast adoption/ market transformation. These Model Units are provided capital subsidy to the extent of 25% of the cost of plant and equipments, related to energy efficiency improvement, subject to a maximum of Rs. 30 lakh and Rs. 75 lakh for Low-end and High-end technologies, respectively. In addition to the above, each unit will reimburse a consultancy charge towards design and engineering by selected consultant, for their unit, up to an amount of Rs. 4 lakh. The 9-Technology packages selected for this purpose were ‘High Efficiency Recuperator with improved furnace design’, ‘Change of furnace oil to coal producer gas as fuel’, ‘Technology for use of pulverized coal as fuel’, ‘Use of Bio-mass gas as fuel’, ‘Regenerative burner system’, Hot charging of Continuous Cast Billet’, ‘Top-and-Bottom firing system in reheating furnace’, ‘Oxy-fuel combustion system in reheating furnace’ and ‘Walking hearth/Beam furnace. Out of these first four are Low-end technologies whereas the remaining are High-end technologies. In addition to the advice and capital subsidy to the Model Units PMC provides awareness on various technological developments through workshops.
So far, 15 re-rolling mills are implementing the technologies and are at various stages of completion of the project. The post commissioning data collected from the two of these units shows reduction in consumption on furnace oil of 22% and 25%, scale loss/burning loss reduced by 65% and 51% and improvement in mill utilization of 13% and 24% in the two units respectively. In addition saving in power consumption, improvement in the yield of finished products are also achieved. Such improvements are in-line with the expectations of the project authorities. With this the model units have also derived financial benefits increasing their profitability. At the same time CO2 emissions from these units have also come down. An exhaustive capacity building programme has been undertaken in which training manual on 17 different topics relating to rolling mill operation, maintenance, safety, environment, standard and labelling, financial management for different level of personnel have been prepared for distribution to all re-rolling units. Altogether, 250 training programmes have been planned in various clusters of the SRRM in the country.