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Intelligent Hot Dip Galvanizing furnace for better energy use, low environmental impact and extended kettle lifespan

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - e-Furnace (Intelligent Hot Dip Galvanizing furnace for better energy use, low environmental impact and extended kettle lifespan)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-02-28

The e-Furnace project is targeted at developing a new generation of hot dip galvanizing furnaces which would guarantee a sustainable performance, as well as a prolonged kettle life and improved process quality.
The initiative springs from a profound need to make an energy intensive and environmentally challenging industry more and more sustainable in its approach to the most critical centerpiece in the industrial galvanizing process.
The main objectives of the project would be a new optimized design for e-Furnace, where choices made on geometry, shape and insulation materials are deeply intertwined with technological advancements on control algorithms, advanced sensors and refined combustion systems.
"During the first period, the work that has been performed has consisted of general as well as more specific tasks.
On a general level, there has been intense activity to build the knowledge base and the methodological foundation for the entire project. This has entailed a collection of the existing IP in possession of the Project Partners, as well as a very deep exchange with subcontractors on the state of the art in the respective fields of expertise. Fine analysis has been run on each desired objective, the role a Partner or Subcontractor would play in the pursuit of objectives and the roadmap that would lead to such results. This has often entailed discussion and exchange on available expertise, as well as serious work on binding agreements on IP treatment and exploitation.

In the second period of the Project, the Beneficiaries, Zinco Service Srl and Gimeco Impianti Srl, had to complete a number of significant tasks related to progress on the eFurnace.
The first three Work Packages, WP1, WP2 and WP3, had their ending at the end of the second semester and needed to bear results in relation to the necessary work that would propel the design and building of the first working prototype of the eFurnace.
As it often happens with R&D projects, a number of expected or unexpected challenges have been encountered in the second semester. This being the phase in which technical choices are made and real experiments are carried out on new technologies, it is only natural that some difficulties were encountered. However, very satisfactory results were also obtained and a major breakthrough on the first end user involved with the prototype was obtained. Countermeasures to the challenges have also been identified and are being applied.

In the third period of the Project, the Beneficiaries, Zinco Service Srl and Gimeco Impianti Srl, have worked along the foreseen program as well as to compensate some delays in the fullfillment of the objectives of some initial Work Packages, which had been created by unexpected technical problems on the choice of burners.
Thanks to countermeausers, a full specification for the kettle and furnace design was reached by the end of November, together with the final version of the control and monitoring system.
Work has therefore also be addressed to all that is needed in order to produce and install the first prototype at Galva Union Group, in France.
This means that after mid November efforts have been targeted at refining some of the most critical aspects of the operational choices to be made on the prototype. In order to increase chances of success, a separate testing chamber to be deployed at ESA has been designed and built. This chamber is to be used for fine-tuning and data collection during the construction of the prototype and after its installation, in order to test a number of technical features and trouble shoot them while the prototype is being assembled and then started up.
Foreseen results in terms of energy consumption, kettle life expectancy and quality of finished products have been all kept in focus during these research and design stages, entering now in the phase of experimental construction and installation of the first prototype, with all this implies in terms of being able to collect data in the real-life operational situation of a true hot dip galvanizing factory.
In the meantime, dissemination has continued through industry-related events as well as partecipating into pitching sessions with potential external investors and partners, thanks to the support of the EASME office in Bruxelles. Manifestations of interest have been made by some external investors and are under consideration.

In the fourth Period of the Project, the Beneficiaries, Zinco Service Srl and Gimeco Impianti Srl, after having recuperated the delay accumulated in the first three periods due to some technical problems relating to burners choice, have proceeded with scheduled work, specifically in the direction of finalizing the first functioning prototype of the eFurnace. Finally the partners have decided to assemble the eFurnace prototype in a testing location, and proceed with the prototype validation process complying with all the project objectives.

Dissemination has continued to be present at various industry events, while a video called ""Faces of the eFurnace"" has been produced to showcase the main people and features of the Project and shall be released in the occasion of a major market event scheduled in June 2018, called Intergalva."
The expected final results are:

• A new engineering concept for a viable and sustainable new generation of hot dip galvanizing furnaces
• Reduced environmental impact thanks to a …% reduction in CO2 and Nox emissions
• Prolonged kettle life, with elimination of potentially dangerous zinc spills and increased financial sustainability of kettle investment
• Improved process quality thanks to reduction of floating dross and other metallurgical phenomena relating to the undesired energy inefficiency and temperature variations in the bath
• Direct market share improvement for the two Partners of the Project
• Dissemination of advanced know-how among the supply chain within the European Union, with positive impact on subcontractors’ capability to carry out successful R&D
• Increase of qualified professional profiles needed by the Partners or the Subcontractors to manage the new IP and e-Furnace concept in the market