Friday | 10 February, 2012 | 1:04 pm

Energy efficiency

By Julie Sammarco

GE technology helps metal producers reduce energy emissions

February 2012 - Handan Iron & Steel Group Ltd. selected General Electric Co. technology for a new 170-megawatt power plant at its mill in Handan City, China. The technology will use emissions from iron and steel production to generate cleaner electricity. Instead of burning waste gas in a boiler, the off-gas from the Hebei, China-based Handan’s blast furnace and coke oven will power a GE 9E gas turbine to generate power, giving metal producers another option for energy efficiency.

The waste gas used in this solution had been considered too low quality for high-efficiency power generation. However, GE engineers devised a way to compress the gas and enable it to power a heavy-duty gas turbine.
“This is the lowest-quality fuel we’ve ever even considered burning, but we saw the potential to redesign the energy landscape in the steel industry,” said Keiran Coulton, president of Global Industries at GE Energy, in a press release. “Our engineers determined a way to compress the gas, make it more burnable and add it to the fuel options for what is otherwise a conventional power plant. In effect, we re-engineered the fuel instead of re-engineering the plant.”

GE also installed two 9E heavy-duty gas turbines that are successfully operating at Wuhan Iron & Steel’s Wuhan, China facility. So far, the turbines have increased energy efficiency by 25 percent to 40 percent on average and lowered carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 2 million tons.

Metals production
Handan’s benefits include higher efficiency and more output with fewer emissions when compared to traditional boiler technology for steel mills with blast furnace gas and coke oven gas, or Finex gas as byproducts of the steel mill process. The GE 9E gas turbine also can reduce costs for Handan by enabling the company to buy less electricity from the grid with fewer emissions and a smaller footprint.

“Handan Iron & Steel Group Ltd. is doing more than simply driving efficiencies—they are shifting the traditional model for producing metals,” says Ryan Derouin, North American metals leader for GE Energy. “This project in Handan, China, is indicative of an important change underway right now in metals production. Regulations, especially in China, are causing operators to reduce their environmental impact and become more energy efficient. The question for the industry is how do we adapt and even prosper in the context of this changing landscape? It’s a natural place for GE to apply our metals industry expertise and to work with customers like Handan and Wuhan to solve these challenges.”

“We’re being challenged to advance our thinking and find new paths to growth,” said Li Fujun, general director of power and equipment at Handan Steel Mills, in a press release. “But this idea goes even further—we’re not simply doing the same things better, we’re doing something completely new. And that will have a huge impact on our efficiency, energy costs and carbon footprint.”

GE’s 9E gas turbine burns a range of fuels including natural gas, light and heavy distillate oil, naphtha, crude, residual oil, BFG, syngas and biofuels. More than 50 9E units are installed in China. GE’s gas turbine technology uses less water and reprocesses excess steam for steel mill operations. This process creates a continuous circle of reusing and redirecting resources.

The waste-to-value solution at Handan also will include two-stage centrifugal compressors manufactured by GE. These compressors leverage experience gained in the demanding oil and gas industry and provide superior reliability when compared to axial compressor alternatives. Each of the two gas turbine generator packages includes GE 9A5 generators with modifications to fit the largest centrifugal fuel gas compressor.

The technology behind the Handan plant already has been proven at a steel mill in Wuhan, China. Work on the Handan plant is scheduled to begin in 2012. MM

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