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Integrated Refractory and Steel Recovery

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ReStoRe (Integrated Refractory and Steel Recovery)

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2021-02-28

The steel industry is a strategic production sector, however it puts strong pressure on the environment because of the nature and quantity of material involved, gas emissions and waste. Of particular concern are the huge volume of landfilled spent refractory, about 80-90% of total ladles and furnaces demolition material; and the massive lime consumption, generating large amounts of CO2 emissions.
To date no technology existed in the steel industry that achieved recycling rates higher than about 50%, can be performed in situ and permit the use of the vast majority of treated waste within the same production cycle. These assets would significantly reduce economic and environmental costs of steel production.

Deref S.p.a. has a solid and long-lasting experience in the steel sector, and even more in steel refractory demolition, industrial waste management and metallurgical additives production. It developed a proper solution, tested it industrially at an Electric Arc Furnace plant for stainless steel production, and achieved a 95% recycling rate with 80% reuse in the same production plant and very high cost savings. It now sees a high potential to capitalise these huge achievements by focusing the entire steel production market, consisting in more than 18 relevant sized steel plants in EU and much more worldwide.

Hereto, Deref will optimise and adapt its patented and proven technology to all types of steel production cycles and steel grades and validate results within large-scale trials and demonstrations, performed with at least 7 big steel producers, to obtain confirmation on the suitability of the treatment cycles in different use cases and to provide for evidence to the market. It will also standardise protocols and designs, and obtain an ETV certification. Lastly, it will widely inform and convince the market by a well targeted communication and dissemination strategy and update the commercialisation plan.
In WP1 Deref has developed new recovery processes on materials so far without recycling routes. They concerned torpedo cars, converters and ladles screened fraction; tundish re-construction/demolition waste fractions; lances; blast furnace monolithic refractories (runners) from demolition; exhausted refractory bricks of torpedo cars; ladle and tundish shroud; spent spinel refractory bricks, dusty metallic materials. Deref has characterized the materials and trialled and established for each type of refractory treatment methods, lastly adding a briquetting technology for dusty materials. Herewith, most of these materials could be transformed into products to be used again in the steel process, some directly in the sinter plant or furnace, others as secondary raw materials for flux products or for desulphurisation and deoxidant agents used during the secondary metallurgical phase in steel production. A part of refractory bricks could be valorized as secondary raw material (SRM) for refractory production.
Furthermore, to optimize ReStoRe technology to integral cycle steel production, the agglomeration of mineral additives and utilisation in Blast Furnace has been optimized and trialled.

Within WP2, in May 2019 a ReStoRe recycling plant was built for integral steel cycle to develop, trial and industrialize the recovery technology for carbon steel production processes, expanding the range of possible materials coming from a blast furnace route. Refractory selection methodologies were improved and technology to recover the lances was added, reaching to date a 77% recycling rate.
Trials were also set up with two other steel producers. For the first, producing stainless steel with Electric Arc Furnace, characterization of their waste and transformation into reusable fluxes were completed and we are looking forward to perform tests with these new materials within their steel production process. For the second, producing carbon and electrical steel with Blast furnaces, we have defined and shared the chemical and physical requirements for their process, but works were interrupted due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Demonstrations have been carried out with another producer, employing electrical arc furnaces, with excellent results. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously hampering the definition of agreements and prosecution of activities with other producers since end of February 2020.

WP3 aims to standardize ReStoRe technology to facilitate a quick market penetration once the project is ended. Firstly, databases are being compiled and models developed to simplify, adapt and personalize recycling opportunities. At present, the software allows to simulate the main steel refractory units, such as BOF Converters, torpedo cars, ladles and EAF.
Secondly, detailed engineering designs have been prepared for 7 base modules, useful for all configurations. The first of 4 standardised engineering designs for most common configurations is ready, to be customised case by case.

WP4 fosters dissemination and exploitation. Deref started with a market study, providing a customer segmentation and precise user needs and requirements definition. Deref prioritized in its communication strategy steel-making industry players to raise awareness on the ReStoRe technology and interest in the project’s demonstrations. In 2019 it was present at the METEC trade fair in Dusseldorf with a stand, exhibiting a video on the technology; participated to the fairs Made in Steel in Milan and Metal Expo in Moscow; and visited two sector conferences in Madrid and Aachen, meeting a lot of potential end-users. In 2020, strongly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, ReStoRe was presented at the International Metallurgical Summit at Yekaterinburg in Russia, and in February 2021 Deref participated to the virtual event Mineral Recycling Forum of INFORMED to keep updated on key mineral recycling trends and developments. 14 B2B visits were performed to engage potential customers in ReStoRe demonstrations.Patents were rewarded in Russia and South Africa and trademark registration granted in Europe, Russia and Iran.

Lastly, Deref performed an assessment of its compliance with the H2020 'ethics requirements', concerning in particular environmental impacts and health and safety issues. The outcome was satisfying, as Deref has a strong attention for such issues and had all authorisations and certifications timely in place. Currently, it is completing its application for MASE certification for the newly built French ReStoRe plant, focusing the reduction of workplace risks.
Against current best recycling rates of about 50%, ReStoRe will provide the steel industry with an on-site solution capable to achieve 80-95% reuse of refractory waste, reduce waste treatment costs by 75-95% though reduction of eliminated volume and saving several millions of euro per steel plant on raw material purchases by re-using basic slag former, metal and alumina products. The innovation will lead to a drastic reduction of landfilled refractory and CO2 emissions due to waste transport, and reduces the consumption of primary raw materials, as a perfect example of circular economy. At end of project, Deref expects to have the technology customized and optimized for any type of steel production process and to have made all big players on the market aware of the offered opportunities to easily conquer the market.
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ReStoRe benefits
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