Potential for energy savings by heat recovery in an integrated steel supply chain

M. McBrien, A. Cabrera Serrenho, J. M. Allwood
  • The potential for energy savings of an average steel mill is estimated
  • Pinch analysis is used to optimise an integrated network of heat exchangers
  • Proposed networks may save up to 3.0 GJ per tonne of hot rolled steel
  • Limited savings may be obtained from the integration with other industries

Heat recovery plays an important role in energy saving in the supply chain of steel products. Almost all high temperature outputs in the steel industry have their thermal energy exchanged to preheat inputs to the process. Despite the widespread development of heat recovery technologies within process stages (process heat recovery), larger savings may be obtained by using a wider integrated network of heat exchange across various processes along the supply chain (integrated heat recovery). Previous pinch analyses have been applied to optimise integrated heat recovery systems in steel plants, although a comparison between standard process heat recovery and integrated heat recovery has not yet been explored. In this paper, the potential for additional energy savings achieved by using integrated heat recovery is estimated for a typical integrated steel plant, using pinch analysis. Overall, process heat recovery saves approximately 1.8 GJ per tonne of hot rolled steel (GJ/t hrs), integrated heat recovery with conventional heat exchange could save 2.5 GJ/t hrs, and an alternative heat exchange that also recovers energy from hot steel could save 3.0 GJ/t hrs. In developing these networks, general heat recovery strategies are identified that may be applied more widely to all primary steel production to enhance heat recovery. Limited additional savings may be obtained from the integration of the steel supply chain with other industries.