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Joint research to help U.S. steel industry

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory : 11 April, 2004  (Technical Article)
Argonne National Laboratory has joined a $1.29 million project that will make U.S. steel companies more competitive and maximize furnace life. The U.S. steel industry produces more than 100 million tons of steel annually. Blast furnaces that convert iron into molten iron are crucial components of steel companies, many of which are located in northwest Indiana. Because of aging technology, Indiana's steel industry is losing its competitive edge.
Those working on the project will use the two-year grant to develop technology software that will use advanced computational fluid dynamics, a method of solving fluid flow and heat transfer problems. This technology allows engineers to evaluate and predict erosion patterns within blast furnaces.

Engineers using the CFD model-based monitoring and control technology will be able to optimize blast furnace operating conditions by anticipating and correcting problems without shutting down the furnace. This could extend the normal 10-15 year life of a blast furnace to 20 years, reducing costs and giving Indiana's steel industry a more competitive edge.

'Advanced CFD modeling is a powerful tool for providing detailed information on furnace conditions and parametric effects for optimizing their performance,' said Shen-Lin Chang, a mechanical engineer in Argonne's Energy Systems Division. 'This project will develop a state-of-the-art CFD model to evaluate erosion patterns in a blast furnace hearth, which is the most critical part of the life of the furnace.'

Over the past 20 years, Argonne has developed strong CFD capabilities, including multiphase flow simulation. Argonne will assist Purdue University Calumet in developing comprehensive CFD simulation of a blast furnace hearth. In addition, Argonne will develop control strategies for reducing erosion and increasing furnace campaign life.

'The project will not only help steel companies, but enhance Argonne's CFD capabilities and boost the laboratory's long-standing research and development partnership with universities and industries,' said Chang.

The software development project, led by Chenn Zhou, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue Calumet, is a joint effort between Argonne, Purdue University Calumet, Purdue's West Lafayette campus, Ispat Inland Inc., U.S. Steel and Indiana Industries. Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, which was established to support high-tech economic expansion within the state, will provide funding for the endeavor.

When the project is completed, the CFD software will be available for the entire steel industry, and the collaborative effort will advance blast furnace and CFD technology, while improving the economy and education in northwest Indiana.
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