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DOI 10.1007/s12666-013-0295-1


R&D Interventions at SAIL to Meet Challenges of Expanded Steel

Industry in India
S. S. Mohanty • Atul Saxena

Received: 14 January 2013 / Accepted: 5 May 2013

 Indian Institute of Metals 2013

Abstract Indian steel industry has grown at a fast pace in 1 Introduction

last one decade and expected to grow faster in near future.
Growth of steel industry necessitates expansion of existing In commensuration with the growth of Indian economy,
steel plants and construction of new ones. Capacity steel industry in India has also grown rapidly from a crude
enhancement of Indian steel sector will be accompanied by steel production of less than 22 million tonnes in 2000 to
challenges and opportunities particularly issues related about 72 million tons in 2011–2012 with a CAGR of
with raw material, energy, environment and product 11.4 %. Moreover, Indian steel industry is expected to take
development. R&D is one of the major enabler to deal with giant leap in near future as the Working Group on Steel
emerging challenges and opportunities. Due to the capacity industry for 12th Five Year Plan has envisaged the steel
enhancement in the past, SAIL has been subjected to a production capacity to reach a level of 150 million tons per
variety of challenges which are expected to aggravate in year by the end of 2016–2017. Such phenomenal rise in
near future and. R&D interventions have always been steel production capacity will predominantly be due to rise
strong facilitators in SAIL to meet the challenges and to in steel consumption particularly in rural sector.
exploit the opportunities. Also, R&D resources in SAIL Such bright scenario of steel industry in India is full of
have been equipped to meet the challenges of future. This challenges and opportunities. The enhancement of produc-
paper highlights some of the high-quality R&D work which tion capacity requires construction of new steel plants and
has been done recently in SAIL in the areas of raw mate- expansion of existing plants. Also, capacity enhancement
rial, coke making, iron making, steel making, rolling will cause fierce competition among the steel producers to
environment, energy and product development. The paper produce quality steel through cost-effective technology.
also enumerates some of the R&D work SAIL is planning Both construction & expansion of plants as well as fierce
to take up in near future to deal with various challenges and completion will engender challenges and opportunities. The
opportunities arising out of ongoing and upcoming major issues associated with challenges and opportunities
expansion of SAIL steel plants. include raw material quality, environmental issues and
introduction of new state of the art technologies. Though a
Keywords Coking coal  Ladle lining life  multi-pronged approach is required to deal with the emerg-
Slime beneficiation  Microstructural modeling  ing opportunities and challenges, R&D input is one of the
Formability  Grain refinement major enablers to address these issues. In India, most of the
major steel producers like SAIL, TATA, RINL, JSW,
ESSAR etc. have their own R&D units. Additionally, many
S. S. Mohanty of the research and academic institutes like IMMT, NML,
Steel Authority of India Limited, New Delhi 110003, India IITs etc., are also involved in R&D activities related with
iron and steel making technologies. Therefore, steel sector in
A. Saxena (&)
India is fairly equipped with R&D resources to meet the
Research and Development Centre for Iron and Steel,
Steel Authority of India Limited, Ranchi 834002, India challenges and opportunities in the future. However, R&D
e-mail: investment by steel companies in India is presently around

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0.25 % of the sales turnover which is quite low in compari- SAIL, like other steel producers in India, is also facing
son to R&D investment in major companies abroad where it acute shortage of good quality coking coal. To minimize
is more than 1.0 % of sales turn over. Concerted efforts are, the coking coal related constraints of SAIL, RDCIS has
therefore, required to enhance the R&D investment in Indian taken a number of initiatives for improvement in the
steel sector to meet the international standards. availability and quality of indigenous coking coal. Some of
SAIL, being one of the largest steel producers in India, the initiatives are briefly described here.
is a major player in ensuring capacity enhancement in Demonstration of usability of low volatile medium
Indian Steel industry. The steel production capacity of coking (LVMC) coals, which were mainly used as thermal
SAIL is presently around 14 million tonnes which is coal, in BF coke making after their beneficiation (ash
expected to increase to 23 million tons after completion of content of 17 % max) through pilot oven carbonization
its on-going modernization and expansion programme. In tests. The pilot oven carbonization tests carried out at
view of its expansion programme, SAIL is likely to be RDCIS with SAIL blends showed that it’s blending of
affected with the problems associated with raw material LVMC coal, Ghanoodih IV to VII combined seam of Jharia
quality, environmental issues and introduction of new state coalfield, with SAIL coal blends up to 30 % produces
of the art technologies. In view of this, R&D interventions improvement in both M10 and CRI/CSR values (Fig. 1).
are also essential for SAIL to meet the challenges and to Use of high volatile low rank liptinite Indian coal in BF
exploit the opportunities. coke making after their beneficiation (Ash content
*10–15 %) was also found to be possible.
Characterization of raw feed coals linked to different
2 R&D Interventions in SAIL BCCL and CCL washeries of Coal India to suggest mea-
sures for improving properties indigenous washed coking
RDCIS, the corporate R&D of SAIL, has for last many coals was also carried out [1].
decades has worked incessantly for last many decades to The poor coke quality in SAIL is mainly attributed to
address the needs of various production units for inferior raw material base, non-availability of technologies
improvement in existing process, reduction in production such as stamp charging and CDQ and deviations in oper-
cost, product development, energy efficiency etc. Particu- ations. The 7 m tall ovens are in place in Bhilai Steel Plant
larly in recent years, when quality requirements of steel has (BSP) and the same are now available at Rourkela Steel
increased manifold due to fierce competition in India, Plant (RSP) and IISCO Steel Plant (ISP). The coke dry
RDCIS has come out with a number of innovative solutions quenching plants are now in operation at RSP & ISP. These
in various technological areas related with iron and steel resulted in significant improvement in coke properties at
making technologies to produce quality steel in cost- RSP & ISP. In addition, R&D Centre of SAIL has taken
effective and environment friendly manner. Some of the some other initiatives for improvements in coke properties.
good quality work carried out recently by RDCIS in areas
like coke making, iron making, steel making, steel rolling, 2.1.1 Development of ‘‘Differential Crushing’’ to Improve
environment, energy and product development are high- Coke Quality
lighted in this paper. Also, included in the paper are the
futuristic schemes which RDCIS is planning to take up in RDCIS has developed ‘‘Differential crushing scheme to
coming years to meet various challenges accompanying the improve coke quality’’. At Bokaro Steel Plant (BSL),
expansion and modernization of SAIL steel plants.
2.1 Coke Making M10 CSR CRI
52.3 51.1
50 44.5
The major concern for growing Indian Steel industry is low
Values, %

availability and poor quality of indigenous coking coal. 32.8
27.8 29.3
India has meagre reserves of proved coking coal which 30
accounts for 13 % of total coal reserves. Also, Indian coking 20 16.3
coal has high ash content (20–25 %), low vitrinite content 9.6 8.3 7.8 8.6
and poor coking/caking properties. Low availability of good
indigenous coking coal has resulted in import of good 0
0 10 15 100
quality coking coal from countries like Australia, New
Ghanoodih Coal (Ash: 13.6%), %
Zealand, Indonesia and USA. The Indian steel industry is
expected to import 26.8 million tonnes of coking coal which Fig. 1 Effect of use of washed NLW coal in SAIL coal blends on BF
will increase to 43 million tonnes in 2013. coke properties

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crushing index (-3.2 mm fraction) of coal blend was 2.1.5 Development of Technology for Production Low Ash
82–83 % with a high micro-fines content (-0.5 mm) of (*10 %) Clean Coal for Metallurgical Purpose
47 %. Introduction of differential crushing scheme has
helped in improving M10 index of BF coke from 9.5 to 9.3 R&D project for development of technology for production
during trial period even with lower imported coal usage. Its of low ash coal for metallurgical purpose has been
implementation has resulted in an annual saving of Rs. 4.58 approved by Ministry of Steel and being carried out by
crores at BSL. IMMT, Bhubaneswar, CIMFR, Dhanbad, NML, Jamshed-
pur, NEIST, Jorhat, RDCIS, SAIL, Ranchi and CMPDI,
2.1.2 Improvement in Overall Coke Quality of COB # 10 Ranchi. This will help in better usability of indigenous
w.r.t Coke Strength and Moisture at ISP coking coals and provide opportunity for production of PCI
Based on pilot coke oven study at RDCIS, measures were
taken to improve coal blend crushing. In addition to the above, 2.1.6 Use of Magnetic Water for Moisture Addition
improvements were made in selection/blending of coals, in Coal Blend
heating control, coke quenching and testing of coke samples.
With the above investigations and recommendations, Moisture is added in coal blend to reduce the dust emission
average M10 value has been improved from 13.6 (average during charging and roof carbon deposition. At present,
during November, 2010 to February, 2011) to 11.5 at present. about 8 % moisture level is maintained for smooth opera-
tion of the battery. As per literature, bulk density of the
2.1.3 Development of an Index Based on Cross-Leakage coal blend is minimum at 8 % moisture. Reduction in
Measurements for Assessment of Battery Health moisture results in higher bulk density but the same time
dust emission increases while higher moisture addition
As a coke oven battery ages, cracks and fissures develop on leads to an increase in specific heat consumption and
the refractory wall separating the ovens from the heating charging hopper jamming.
walls through which leakage of raw gas takes place from Magnetised water has lower surface tension and thus its
the ovens to the heating walls leading to chimney emis- spreadability becomes better. Using magnetised water, dust
sions [2]. This cross-leakage is an early indication of bat- emission can be controlled with lower moisture level. It
tery health and refractory condition. Conventionally, cross- will improve bulk density of coal charge and reduce heat
leakage has been visually estimated in terms of chimney consumption in coke ovens.
smoking or vertical flue inspection. However, these meth-
ods are qualitative and subjective in nature. 2.2 Iron Making
To quantify cross-leakage, two methods have been
developed, one for oven wise cross-leakage determination 2.2.1 Raw Material
and second for determining cross-leakage of the whole
battery. Research activities are being carried out in the area of iron
ore processing at SAIL mines for production of quality
2.1.4 Performance Improvement of Coal Crushing System product. In recent past, RDCIS team along with mines
at DSP personnel have worked very extensively to recover fine
concentrate particles from the slime/process rejects.
One of the reasons for inconsistency in the crushing index A massive slime beneficiation unit has been installed
is the poor life of hammers (40,000–50,000 tons of coal) and commissioned at Dalli mines, where the slime with
and improper working of crusher adjustment mechanism. 49 % Fe is being enriched to 63 % Fe through various
Modifications in the hammer materials were made to innovative techniques. While 50 % of slime is treated
improve consistency in the crushing index [3, 4]. Hammers through fluidized bed classifier (FBC) unit, the remaining is
fabricated from 50CrMo4 plates of Alloy Steel Plant (ASP) being treated through a cluster of hydro-cyclone followed
and heat-treated at Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) have by medium intensity magnetic separator (MIMS) and
resulted in twofold (90,000–1,00,000 tons of coal) increase modified slow speed spiral classifier (SSSC) [5, 6]. FBC
in life of the hammers at DSP. Modifications in the crusher unit is designed in-house, which is basically a combined
adjustment mechanism have also helped the operators in system of commercially available hydro-cyclone & flotex
maintaining crushing parameters more effectively. density separator (FDS). The entire system is shown in
In the coming years, RDCIS will take following work in Fig. 2 as line diagram. Both the lines have been dovetailed
the area of coal and coke: with the existing system and an extra generation of fines

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Fig. 3 Flow sheet for proposed slime beneficiation system at

Kiriburu mines
Fig. 2 Line diagram of slime beneficiation system, installed at Dalli
mines, SAIL
2.2.2 Sintering and Agglomeration

concentrate at a rate of 40 t/h is being recovered from the Prepared burden in the blast furnace plays a vital role for
slime. improving the hot metal production and reduction in coke
Another slime beneficiation unit has been designed and rate. Sinter assumed significance due to its improved
installed at Meghahatuburu mines very recently, where the properties as compared to lump iron ore. The sintering
overflow of existing conventional hydro-cyclones has been plants in SAIL are old in design and are not able to meet
treated in a 2600 cluster hydro-cyclone through a slurry the increased demand of sinter for blast furnace. RDCIS
pump as a second stage of beneficiation. With this system has developed few innovations for increasing the sinter
working very efficiently, not only high grade (63 % Fe) production. Some of the major R&D innovations in SAIL
fines concentrate is recovered but also solved the jamming are described below:
problems completely in the downstream equipment like
thickener and slurry pumps. The slime loss has been Performance Improvement of Sinter Machine
drastically reduced to *10 from *20 % with the recovery Through Reducing Air Leakages into the Suction Track at
of quality fines concentrate. The concentrate product from BSL, Bokaro Rate of sintering depends on the rate of flow
SSSC unit is to the tune of 50 tph, which is added to the of gases through the mix which, in turn, depends on the
sinter fines product. vacuum created in the wind boxes by the exhauster. Opti-
At Kiriburu mines also, a compact slime beneficiation misation of gas dynamic parameters of the sinter machine,
system consisting of slurry pump, hydro-cyclones followed enables one to achieve higher under grate suction and leads to
by drum magnetic separator and de-watering screen has substantial improvements in the techno-economic parame-
been installed after the bench & pilot scale test work at ters. Increase in suction by 100 mmwc will increase 10 %
RDCIS. The schematic flow diagram is shown in Fig. 3. productivity of machine. Speed of sinter machine depends on
The entire slime beneficiation system is mounted on one vertical sintering speed, which in turn depends on air filtra-
platform, where separation process is taking place from tion velocity and difference of pressure in sinter bed. RDCIS
topmost equipment as hydro-cyclone and bottommost took projects in different sinter plants to improve suction by
equipment as dewatering screen. determining the leakages through aerodynamic studies so
In near future, SAIL will be incorporating slime bene- that repairs can be planned for rectifying the leakage points
ficiation system in rest of the mines, viz, Barsua & Bolani during shut down/capital repairs.
mines. With installation of slime beneficiation system, the
processing of ore will be mostly by wet mode and thereby, Development of Magnetic Plate Charging Sys-
improve the quality of ore, fines product in particular. The tem For the improvement of productivity and yield in the
ore of Barsua mines consists of two minerals namely sintering process, the control of void fraction in the sinter
Gibbsite and Goethite, which are difficult to handle. At bed and increase of the sinter yield in the upper layer are
present, RDCIS is pursuing the slime beneficiation project important. A magnetic charging system was developed and
at Barsua mines with the help of leading CSIR laboratories installed in sintering plants of DSP and BSLs. The mag-
(NML, Jamshedpur & IMMT, Bhubaneswar) to get rid of netic segregation plate assembly consists of individual
gibbsite mineral and recover concentrate with 64 % Fe and magnetic elements/pieces, fixed in appropriate rows and
total gangue \4 %. columns and are enclosed all around by SS 304 enclosure.

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Study of viscosity of BF slag using viscometer and

theoretical calculations will help in deciding the optimum
slag chemistry having fluidity & sulphide capacity. By
optimising MgO input through sinter, the adverse effect of
Al2O3 in slag can be decreased.
Alkali has adverse effect such as scaffold formation,
degradation of coke etc. in blast furnace. So flushing of
alkali is required for smooth blast furnace operation.
Optimization of blowing parameter helps in maintaining
constant thermal regime inside the furnace. The furnace
irregularities such as hanging, slipping, scaffold formation
or hearth erosion etc. should be minimum for better
Optimization of casting practice improves better wind
acceptance. Coke rate can be decreased by chemical energy
Fig. 4 Magnetic plate feeder charging system at DSP and BSL substitute such as coal dust injection in BF tuyere. The rate
The schematic diagram of magnetic plate charging system of coal injection through tuyeres of Blast Furnaces can
is given in Fig. 4. Magnetic plate attracts paramagnetic enhanced through optimisation of burden distribution,
materials i.e. return sinter and mill scale to the top of the blowing parameters and by adjustment of position of
bed which helps in retaining the heat for longer duration, injection lance.
thus improving the overall yield [7]. Productivity can be increased either by increasing wind
volume or decreasing coke rate. Production increases 2 %, Waste Heat Recovery System from Sinter Cooler at for every 1 % increase in oxygen enrichment.
SP-3, BSP As sintering plants in SAIL were commis- Injection of Ilemenite sand through tuyeres in BF’ces or
sioned in early sixties, no heat recovery system was pro- charging of titaniferrous ore in BF’s prevents further ero-
vided in the original design. RDCIS initiated project for sion of the hearth lining of Blast Furnace [10].
waste heat recovery from cooler to raise the water tem-
perature to 90 C for addition in mixing and nodulising 2.3 Steel Making and Refractories
drum in SP-3, BSP. Addition of hot water in sinter mix
helps in increasing the balling characteristics of mix which 2.3.1 Process Technology for Aluminium Killed Steel
in turn increase the machine speed thus specific produc- at DSP
tivity also increases. The system description is given in
Fig. 5. It is estimated that 150,000 kcal/h heat will be Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP), was facing a chronic problem
recovered from cooler which is presently discharged to of ladle nozzle and SEN clogging during continuous cast-
atmosphere [8]. ing of Al-killed steels. Selection of improper flux and de-
Future work in the agglomeration area includes devel- oxidation practice, viscous ladle top slag in Ladle Furnace
opment of structure property relation model, development (LF), poor de-sulphurisation and absence of calcium &
of mathematical model for sintering process and produc- inclusion flotation treatment at the end of refining in Al-
tion of highly reducible sinter. killed steel leads to ladle and tundish nozzle choking dur-
ing casting. The study of existing flux and de-oxidation
2.2.3 Blast Furnace practice for production of Al-killed blooms through LF
route revealed that optimisation of flux, de-oxidation and
Distribution of burden inside the blast furnace is important suitable steel refining practice was necessary to avoid
to optimize the gas flow. RDCIS is having the facilities of clogging during casting.
two bell system & bell less model blast furnace. These two Based on theoretical calculation and slag analysis, the flux
cold models help to optimize the burden distribution. & de-oxidation practice has been modified to achieve a low
The shape, size & position of cohesive zone (softening– melting fluid top slag. Steel refining practice was re-designed
melting zone) determine the permeability at lower zone of to achieve low (FeO ? MnO) level for better de-sulphuri-
furnace. By the help of Meltdown Determination Appara- sation, conversion of solid alumina inclusions to liquid cal-
tus (Fig. 6), softening–melting temperature [9] can be cium aluminates and its removal from liquid steel to slag
measured and it can be optimised with varying ferrous phase in DSP condition. Plant trial with modified flux, de-
burden combination & chemistry. oxidation and refining practice resulted in better slag-metal

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Fig. 5 Scheme for waste heat

recovery system at BSP

The study indicated that problem of rhomboidity is

mainly due to non-symmetric cooling of solidifying strand
in mould, non-symmetric cooling in upper zone of sec-
ondary cooling. The non-symmetric cooling of solidifying
strand in mould was mainly due to absence of water
channel gap adjustment in mould during tube changing.
Frequent chocking of secondary cooling nozzles particu-
larly in foot-roll led to asymmetric cooling of solidifying
strand. The quality of water was poor in terms of presence
of iron bearing scales, which was responsible for frequent
choking of secondary cooling nozzle. In view of this, fol-
lowing technological measures has been implemented to
control rhomboidity:
• Periodic water channel gap adjustment in mould
• Adjustment of foot-roll alignment with mould
Fig. 6 Softening–melting determination equipment • Introduction of billet nozzles of full cone JATO 5065 in
LOOP1 from Lechler 460.644 to avoid nozzle clogging
and have high cooling water spray
mixing, higher de-sulphurisation, better inclusion flotation
• Revamping of sand filter to reduce nozzle clogging
and smooth casting without any ladle and SEN clogging.
• Periodic checking, cleaning and replacement of strainer
in duplex filter
2.3.2 Control of Rhomboidity in Bloom Caster at DSP
The above technological measures have led to reduction
Bloom caster at DSP was facing severe problem of of rhomboidity by *55 %.
rhomboidity (difference in diagonal of bloom [15 mm)
during continuous casting. This led to rejection of bloom 2.3.3 Enhancement of Lining Life of Steel Ladles at RSP
at section mill and subsequent down-gradation/re-classi- and BSL
fication of bloom. In addition to this, DSP was also
facing severe customer complaint due to rhomboidity. In In 150T steel ladles of RSP, both in-house and purchased
view of this, a scientific study was undertaken to identify bricks are used and average lining life was 101 heats during
suitable continuous casting parameters influencing the 2009–2010. In 1st phase, seven trials were conducted with
generation of rhomboidity in bloom during continuous 96 % MgO sintered natural magnesia (QMAG) as an
casting and control these parameters to reduce alternative to 97 % MgO sea water magnesia (SWM) to
rhomboidity. reduce cost. Average lining life with QMAG based lining

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moisture castable (LMC). For stability of monolithic wall

lining a novel anchor design was developed and patented.
The anchors were flexible in design to take care of mismatch
of thermal expansion between SS anchors and refractory
[13]. Drying and heating of the lining was done following
special heating schedule to avoid cracking/bursting. Two
pits with new design are in operation without any repair for
more than 1.5 years since January 2011. This has increased
pit availability by 15 % and reduced energy consumption by
12 %.
In the future, RDCIS will be working in the following
areas related with refractories:
• Refractories for working lining and bottom
• Functional refractories e.g. well block and housing
• Ladle heating system
• Development of model based ladle tracking system and
Fig. 7 Existing and modified lining design of 300T steel ladle of
BSL thermal status monitoring system
• Trial with spinel bricks at RSP for benchmarking
• Introduction of nano sized carbon and additives in
was similar (*107 heats) but it was cheaper by Rs. 7,138/
magnesia carbon system.
T compared to SWM. Action taken to use QMAG in RSP
and other SAIL plants.
In the 2nd phase 6 trials were conducted with modified 2.4 Rolling Mills
zonal lining using spinel added SWM based MgO-C in
metal zone, tabular/brown fused alumina based Al2O3– 2.4.1 Flat Rolling
MgO-C (AMC) in bottom impact area and special antiox-
idant [11] added high carbon MgO-C bricks in porous plug In the area of flat rolling, RDCIS has done high quality
side of slag zone and high carbon MgO-C in remaining slag work leading to quality improvement of flat products like
zone. Average lining life with brown fused alumina based plates, hot rolled coils etc. Some of the recent works car-
AMC was 125.5 heats with maximum of 138 heats. ried out by RDCIS are as follows:
In 300T steel ladles of BSL MgO-C bricks are used as
working lining material and average lining life with SRU Modelling of Microstructure Evolution During Hot
bricks during 2010–2011 was 70 heats. Based on the wear Strip Rolling Accurate prediction of mechanical proper-
profile of earlier campaigns, zonal lining w.r.t quality and ties after hot rolling using mathematical modelling tech-
thickness have been designed. Brick quality was improved nique has been an important subject of research for the last
by optimization of granulometry, magnesia and graphite three decades [14, 15]. The mechanical properties are
quality, addition of spinel in metal zone bricks [12] etc. predicted by modelling of thermal regimes, deformation
Figure 7 shows zonal lining pattern of existing and modi- behaviour, recrystallization kinetics and phase transfor-
fied design. Lining life was increased to 100 and 101 heats mation observed during rolling.
which is the highest with SRU bricks achieved in 300T An on-line microstructural model has been developed by
steel ladles of BSL. RDCIS at hot strip mill, BSL to predict mechanical prop-
erties of hot rolled coils. This model calculates grain size of
2.3.4 Introduction of Composite Lining with New steel in reheating furnace, roughing stands, finishing stands
Generation Monolithic in Soaking Pit and run out table on the basis of empirical equations. The
for Improvement of Lining Life and Energy Saving structure–property correlation equations have been subse-
at BSP quently used to predict mechanical properties. This model
has been integrated with mill automation system and an on-
At BSP, soaking pits walls are lined with 38 % Al2O3 bricks line predictive model has been developed. This model
and lining life was 2–2‘ years with 6–8 repairs, In order to takes input data from mill process computers and predicts
improve the performance of soaking pit, brick lining design the mechanical properties of hot rolled coils along coil
was changed to composite lining consisting of ceramic fibre, length. This model now generates a Virtual Test Certificate
light weight fire bricks and new generation monolithic low (VTC) based on predicted mechanical properties. This

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model has been validated with measured data of 3,000 coil production of cost effective special steels. Also the tech-
samples and its accuracy level was [95 %. nologies have been selected with a view to bridge the gap
On-line microstructure prediction of mechanical prop- faced in the area of yield, mill utilization and specific
erties and generation of VTC will be an integral part of the energy consumption. Some of the important mills coming
hot strip mills at SAIL in the coming years. up in the SAIL modernization programme have been dis-
cussed below. Development of Roll Bite Lubrication (RBL) 4.3M Wide Plate Mill at RSP: In order to satisfy cus-
Technology Introduction of lubrication at roll bite in hot tomer requirements for dimensional accuracy, heavier
rolling mills helps in reducing interfacial friction and wear gauges, higher strength and improved weldability, a new
of work rolls [16–18]. This technology was introduced by 4.3M wide Plate Mill is being set up at RSP.
RDCIS at HSM, BSL. Operation of RBL system resulted in Following are some of the important features of the new
increase of campaign size of rolling by 10–20 %, reduction plate mill at RSP:
in grinding off-take of rolls by 30–50 % and reduction in
• Reheating furnace of 225 t/h capacity with level II
roll force and power by 5–10 %.
Based on the experience, RDCIS has now developed an
• PVR technology, roll bending and shifting facility
experimental RBL system (Fig. 8) which has been installed
• Accelerated cooling technology
and commissioned at the first finishing stand (F1) of HSM,
RSP. Semi-synthetic type hot rolling oil developed by Other features include primary and secondary descaling
Indian Oil Corporation was used as lubricant. In this sys- units of 220 kg/cm2 pressure, hot leveler with a minimum
tem, dispersion of oil-in-water is prepared by mixing them hot leveling force of 33,000 KW for improved flatness of
at high pressure in a mixer close to the mill stand and is plates and double side-trimming shear capable of on-line
sprayed over the work or backup rolls. Level of lubrication side shearing of plates.
at the roll bite can be varied by varying concentration and Cold rolling Mill, BSL: A cold rolling mill complex of
pressure of dispersion. capacity 1.2 Mt/year has been set up at BSL under SAIL
Introduction of RBL system has led to reduction in roll modernization programme. The technology selection for
force and power consumption by *10 % in Stand F1. Also cold rolling mill has been done with a view to produce cold
there has been an appreciable improvement in the surface rolled and coated products for automobile and white good
quality of the used work rolls leading to reduction of mill sectors. Some of the important features for the new CRM
wear and decrease of grinding off-take of the rolls. are given below:
The RBL system is now being installed in all finishing
• Coupled pickling and tandem mill
stands of HSM both at BSL and RSP.
• Hydrogen batch annealing
• Single stand 6-high skin pass mill New Rolling Mills in SAIL for Flat Products The
• Hot dip galvanizing.
technology packages of flat rolling mills coming up in
SAIL modernization programme have been aimed at
2.4.2 Shape Rolling

SAIL specialises in producing special sections like Z-bar,

Z-piling (Fig. 9), colliary arch, rails, and railway wheels
etc. SAIL is the major supplier of rails and wheels to Indian
Railways and has continuously endeavoured to develop
different grades of rails and wheel for laying in specific
routes and environmental conditions such as high load
freight routes, corrosion prone routes.
Niobium alloyed rails, vanadium alloyed rails and
110 UTS rails have been developed for higher axle load
and increased traffic density [19, 20]. Apart from that
RDCIS is working on futuristic demand for developing
high toughness corrosion resistance rails and carbide free
bainitic rails [21].
With the commissioning of long rail complex and flush
butt welding machines at BSP has the capacity to produce
Fig. 8 Experimental roll bite lubrication system 260 m long rails. Soon BSP will have new Universal Rail

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Fig. 10 Floor tiles prepared using BOF slag

related programmes recently pursued by RDCIS are given

Fig. 9 Z-Piling section here.

2.5.1 Studies on Technical Feasibility Improving

Mill to produce rails and structurals. The new mill will
Utilization/Recyclability of BSP BOF Slag
possess online head hardening of rails with a capability to
produce symmetrical flat bottom rails, asymmetrical rails
Due to inherent limits of certain components like ‘Phos-
and grooved rails. It will be equipped with world‘s latest
phorus’ in steel, total BOF slag recycling inside steel plant
state of the art technologies for universal rolling, finishing
is not feasible. Through detailed experimentation it was
& testing. It will be able to supply world’s longest welded
established that BOF slag can be used as cement substitute.
panels of 520 m. Setting up of these state of the art mills
The maximum amount of BF slag should be 10 % in
will provide opportunities to RDCIS to produce new
concrete blocks and 15 % in floor tiles for retaining basic
quality rails to meet the requirements of Indian Railways.
physical properties required for intended application.
Other new long product mills under installation in SAIL
Under the project a process and apparatus was developed in
are medium structural mill at DSP and a heavy universal
laboratory scale for upgradation of BOF slag for stabil-
section mill at ISP. In the new structural mills of DSP &
ization of free lime through steam ageing. It was also
ISP all the existing products will be rolled and additionally
established that BOF slag can be used as neutralization and
parallel flange beam of all sizes (100–750 mm), wide
conditioning agent. Figure 10 shows floor tiles prepared
flange beam (100–260 mm) will be rolled. Besides, mill
using BOF slag.
will be capable to produce special section like bulb bar,
Z-bar. As the mills will be equipped with walking beam
2.5.2 Development of Electro Sonic Process
type furnace and more rigid stands with controlled cooling
for Pre-treatment of Coke Oven Effluent
facilities, different grades like carbon structural, low alloy
structural, SAILMA, high tensile, corrosion resistant, DMR
High level of toxicity in coke oven effluent is responsible
grade of steel will be produced.
for its recalcitrance (low degradability) towards biological
treatment. In order to render biological treatment effective,
2.5 Environment
reduction of toxicity and breaking up of complex com-
pounds into smaller ones is a prerequisite. A novel process
The challenge for steel industry in the new millennium is
has been developed in laboratory scale, based on principle
no longer to prove its capacity to create growth, but to
of high frequency sonication [22], where more than 50 %
show that it is a material that is ecologically sustainable. In
reduction in cyanide level (the key marker of toxicity) has
view of this, efforts of RDCIS in last few years have been
been achieved (Fig. 11).
oriented towards developing processes for utilization of
Following are the ongoing projects in the area of
wastes, increasing efficiency of wastewater treatment and
introduction of monitoring systems for improving effec-
tiveness of water and wastewater treatment aimed towards 1. Development of integrated process for coke oven
reduction in water consumption. Some of the environment effluent: Under this SDF funded project an integrated

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In this quest of automation & IT, SAIL has also

developed some key technologies and implemented them
in the integrated steel plants. The coking control technol-
ogy propped up by a veritable oven identification system;
on-line controls the flow, draft and the poise time for an
optimum thermal regime resulting in better coke quality
and energy conservation. The surface inspection system
provides instantaneous information to the user with respect
to different surface defects, if any, in the hot rolled coil. In
the field of industrial wireless, applications have been
developed in SMS and coke oven to reduce cable costs.
Level-2 models have been developed for hot rolling for
better shape control.

2.7 Energy
Fig. 11 Removal of dissolved cyanide through sonication

The iron and steel industry is constantly striving to reduce

state of the art process for treatment of coke Oven
its energy consumption and thereby minimize its overall
effluent is under development.
costs. RDCIS has made immense contribution towards
2. Studies on generic attenuation of water quality impact
reduction in energy consumption & GHG emission and
[23, 24]: Under this project, an off-line simulator has
improvement in furnace productivity and product quality in
been designed and is being fabricated to study
SAIL plants by implementing innovative ideas, introducing
utilization prospects of generic chemicals as replace-
in-house developed energy efficient combustion system
ment of proprietary chemicals for cooling water
and optimisation of thermal regimes. Some of the major
efforts made by RDCIS towards reduction in energy con-
3. Studies on utilization prospects of BF flue dust: In-
sumption in SAIL Plants are briefly highlighted here.
plant recyclability and external utilization potential of
BF flue dust is being explored under the project.
2.7.1 Design, Development and Introduction of High
Capacity Blast Furnace Gas Burner for Boiler # 6
2.5.3 Future Plan of Power Plant #1 at BSP [25, 26]

RDCIS has also identified focus areas of working in next This unique burner design for firing blast furnace gas
few years, in line with emerging requirements arising out (BFG) at high rate (10,000 Nm3/h) was developed for
of SAIL’s plan of doubling its capacity by 2020 with boiler no. 6 of Power Plant-I of BSP to use surplus BFG
minimal environmental footprint. Few of these areas are: and replace purchased coal. BFG being a lean gas (calorific
value *800 kcal/Nm3) has low flame temperature and
1. Increasing internal and external recycling of BOF slag
poor in-flammability etc. for which pure BFG is used
2. Reduction in water consumption
mainly in blast furnace stoves and boilers. BFG burners
3. Development of sustainable water and wastewater
used in boilers are normally fired along with other rich
treatment processes
fuels like furnace oil, coke oven gas (COG) or pulverized
4. Introduction of automation in water and wastewater
coal. To generate desired bushy type stable flame within
system utilities
the width of the firing chamber of the boiler, high rate of
5. Introduction of state of the art monitoring systems.
mixing of the out-coming BFG and air streams has been
achieved by increasing interfacial surface area between gas
2.6 Automation and air streams (Fig. 12).
Six such burners (3 nos. on each of the two side walls)
In steel industry, automation is the very fabric that syner- have been installed in boiler no. 6 (Fig. 13) and they are
gistically weaves the other technological disciplines, apart working quite well since commissioning. Properly
from its stand-alone accomplishments. It has been found anchored and bushy flames are being generated in all the
that automation has a positive correlation with market six burners. BF gas is being consumed at a rate of
share, profitability and thus is one of the key force multi- 40,000–60,000 Nm3/h.
pliers for a healthy balance sheet in the manufacturing The balance heat load is being supplied by COG through
sector. original composite burners. Steam is being generated in the

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Fig. 12 Burner nozzle

Fig. 14 A sketch of curtain flame burner block

Fig. 13 Modified water-tubes near burner port

range of 100–120 t/h at 40 atm pressure and 450 C tem-

perature using by-product gases (COG and BFG). Major
benefit of this endeavour include reduction in particulate
(fly ash) chimney emissions and green house gas emissions
by 15,000 and 100,000 ton/year respectively due to utili-
zation of surplus by-product gases generated in the steel
plant. Also, substantial monitory benefit is accrued due to Fig. 15 Curtain flame ignition hood
elimination of purchased coal.
are used on both the side walls of sinter hood and this has
2.7.2 Design, Development & Introduction of Curtain an inherent problem of slow and uneven heat distribution
Flame Ignition System in Sinter Plants [27, 28] across the sinter bed. To avoid this, several side burners are
used, which requires large furnace (ignition hood) length
Curtain type flame based ignition system was developed to and consumes higher quantity of heat.
improve the ignition of top layer of sinter mix and to In the curtain flame burner, primary air is sent through
reduce the specific gas consumption. The concept involved swirls for better mixing of gas and air and secondary air
mounting several small capacity burners close to one slots are provided in the burner module to obtain curtain
another on the roof across the sinter bed to generate curtain flame configuration (Figs. 14, 15).
shaped continuous flame across the sinter bed, which In this system higher quantity of heat transfer (to start
ignites the top layer of the sinter bed. All the burners are ignition) to the top layer of sinter bed takes place by
mounted in a single row perpendicular to the direction of convection instead of radiation as in the case with con-
strand movement. In the conventional system, side burners ventional side burner. Initially several experiments were

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Fig. 17 Rockbolt and its use in tunnels

reduction in heating duration of green ladles from 16 to

10 h, (2) saving in CO gas by 40 % due to reduction in
Fig. 16 High velocity ladle heating burner
heating duration.
conducted with different designs in Combustion Research
Unit at RSP to evaluate sinter quality. Only after getting 2.7.4 Future Plan
encouraging results, the curtain flame ignition system were
installed in sinter machines of RSP, BSL, BSP and DSP. It Presently, SAIL is working on waste heat recovery from
has resulted in reduction in specific fuel consumption by sinter coolers of SP#2 & SP#3 at BSP to generate hot water
30–40% and also furnace volume by about 80 %, thereby for utilisation in mixing drum.
reducing the cost towards fuel and refractory consumption Potential exists for further reduction of specific energy
and increase in productivity by extra furnace length consumption in SAIL by maintaining technological disci-
available for sintering process. pline, regular energy audits, beneficiation of raw material
Major benefits of this work are (1) reduction in specific to improve its quality, 100 % by-product fuel recovery and
fuel consumption by 30–40 % (from 0.042 to 0.027 Gcal/t), utilisation, phasing out obsolete technologies like twin
(2) reduction in GHG emission by 1,87,000 t/year. hearth, ingot route etc. and adopting newer technologies
like CDQ, TRT, alternate fuel injection in BF, 100 %
2.7.3 Design and Development of High Velocity Burner continuous casting, thin slab casting and rolling facility etc.
for Ladle Heating Stand in SAIL Plants
2.8 Product Development
RDCIS conceptualised the design and developed high
velocity burner suitable for ladle heating system for the During recent times a number of special steel products in
first time in SAIL. In the new system, combustion air is key segment area were developed jointly by RDCIS, and
supplied either from a conventional air blower or from a various SAIL steel plants. Special mentioned may be made
compressed air ejector to inject atmospheric air into the of SAIL HITEN 690 AR plates for manufacture of ATM
burner, for combustion of COG. The combustion system chest [29], high tensile plates with through thickness duc-
developed for ladle heating mainly comprises of a high tility for Defence & railways, ASTM 387 A Gr. 12 plates
velocity burner with COG to generate long flame for high temperature applications in boilers and pressure
(2.5–4.0 m) to reach up to the bottom of the ladle (Fig. 16) vessels, high strength fine grained steel for PEBM & Auto-
and a ceramic fibre insulated ladle cover to minimize heat chassis [30], Ti-bearing LPG steel for gas cylinders, low
losses to the surrounding atmosphere. carbon steel for auto applications, API X-70 grade HR coils
High velocity ladle heating combustion system has been for oil and gas transportation [31] in the flat product area.
introduced in almost all ladle heating stands of Steel In the long products category, EQR TMT rebar [32], roof/
Melting Shop & Ladle Repair Shop of SAIL plants. This rock Bolt TMT rebars for mines and tunnels (Fig. 17) [33],
has resulted in improvement in ladle temperature to corrosion resistant TMT rebars for construction, Al-killed
1,050–1,150 C, reduction in skull formation and low carbon CC blooms for cold reducers, Al-killed medium
improvement in ladle refractory lining life, reduction in carbon CC blooms for forging have been developed
tapping temperature etc. Benefits of this new system are (1) recently.

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Development of high strength formable grade steels for and modernisation plan. As shown in this paper, RDCIS
automobile segment is an important area where all the has already chalked out its future plan and started working
major steel producers in India are focusing. With installa- upon them through various plant based, basic research,
tion of secondary steel making facilities like RH-OB & centre of excellence projects. However, RDCIS will have
state of the art cold rolling mill, a number of special steel to focus on areas like beneficiation of low grade/difficult to
grades such as supper EDD (C \ 0.03 %), Dual Phase/ benefitiate iron ore like BHI, BHQ etc., development of
Multi Phase Steel, IF/High Strength IF, Bake hardenable, relevant technologies for beneficiation of high ash, difficult
HSCR and CR products with special surface finish for auto to wash Indian coking/non coking coal, development/
segment are expected to be developed in near future. adaptation of direct smelting technologies for iron making
In order to construct pipelines to sustain very high using iron ore fines and non-coking coals. For energy
operating pressure during transmission of oil & gas, efforts efficiency and conservation, concerted efforts are required
has started in SAIL to produce API X-80 grade HR coils by RDCIS to work upon technologies like coke drying
through high temperature processing (HTP) technology. quenching, coal moisture control, hot stove waste recovery,
Demand for high strength (YS: 1,200 MPa min) auto blast furnace top pressure recovery turbine (TRT), increase
components made from HR & CR coils is going to increase use of automation at all levels, compact strip casting (CSP),
manifold for auto segment from year 2013 onwards when strip casting etc. For environment protection, development
new crash worthiness norms will come into force. Hot of technology for ultra low CO2 steel making, development
stamping of C–Mn steel is the most effective process for of technology for 100 % recycling/utilization of LD/EAF
fabricating various components for autos. In view of the slag, CO2 sequestration in the plant environment are some
future prospect of such steel, efforts are already underway of the research programmes which require immediate
for production of this steel in SAIL. attention from RDCIS. In the product development area,
During the last 2–3 decades, R&D efforts in the galva- RDCIS will have to concentrate on indigenous develop-
nizing technology have brought about various improve- ment of products like CRGO, steel for power sector, ultra
ments in the galvanizing process leading to numerous high strength steel with good formability for automobile,
advanced galvanized products (AGP) worldwide. Some of construction and infrastructure sectors.
the important AGPs are one side/differential Galvanized
sheet, Spangle free/Zero spangle products, Advanced High Acknowledgments The authors express their gratitude to all GMs
of RDCIS for giving valuable advice which came handy in prepara-
strength Galvanized Sheets, colour coated products etc. tion of this paper. Authors also like to thank all engineers from
Though some of these coated products are under devel- RDCIS for their immense contribution in carrying out above-men-
opment in India, more thrust is required for development of tioned R&D work and for providing input for preparation of this
products like Zn–Mg, Zn–Ni coated sheets and advanced paper. The authors are also thankful to their colleagues in various
SAIL steel plants for their untiring efforts which resulted in suc-
high strength (TRIP & Dual phase) galvanized sheets for cessful execution of R&D projects.
auto segment.
CRGO steel is used mainly for fabrication of large sized
transformers. This steel is characterized by presence of References
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