To produce iron for steelmaking, a blast furnace is used to extract iron from iron ore. The process is energy and raw material intensive and results in the release of greenhouse gases. According to estimates by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), extraction of one ton of iron in the blast furnace results in 2.5 to 3.5 tons of blast furnace gas by-products which consist of dust, nitrogen, carbon monoxide and 12% (0.3~0.4 tons) of carbon dioxide. Ironmakers currently employ various methods to reclaim the by-products and reduce emissions such as recycling of a portion of the gases to burn in the blast furnace stoves. The concept of reduction of carbon dioxide during ironmaking is so important to the steel industry that a consortium of 48 European companies has been built to cooperatively work towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions in a project called ULCOS, Ultra Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking. ULCOS has focused on reducing CO2 emissions at current facilities by capturing and storing CO2. Our team is investigating innovative methods to apply technologies from other sectors to steelmaking to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Our lab scale blast furnace is located adjacent to our steel processing facility and consists of a 12” diameter cupola type furnace with a custom gas collection system to collect and cool emissions from the furnace.