Unlocking the secrets to faster, safer iron sinter analysis

Have you ever baked bread? Even if you haven’t, you’ll know that starting with the right amount and type of flour, yeast, and salt is crucial to achieving the perfect fluffy, savory loaf. But you probably also know that this isn’t the whole story. The dough that you create with these ingredients, and the way you knead and handle the dough before baking it, matters just as much.

Something similar could be said for iron and steel production. Before iron ore can become iron or steel, it must undergo an intermediary process, such as pelletizing, direct reduction, or sintering. And when it comes to sinter, the quality – including parameters such as basicity, strength index, and low-temperature degradation – can critically affect productivity, raw material consumption, and costs in the subsequent blast furnace step. And, with quality requirements, energy prices, and pressure to reduce CO2 emissions all growing, efficiency and quality are now more important than ever. For this reason, iron and steel producers need faster, more flexible sinter analysis methods.

On-line PFTNA: Super fast, super safe

Producers can monitor the quality of both the feed that enters the sinter plant and the sinter that is subsequently produced. By providing real-time analysis of your sinter’s properties, cross-belt analyzers enable you to react immediately to anomalies – enabling consistent, high sinter quality, efficient sintering and blast furnace processes, and maximum profitability.

A particularly exciting technique for sinter analysis is Pulsed Fast Thermal Neutron Activation (PFTNA). PFTNA involves a pulsed flow of neutrons interacting with the nuclei of atoms in the passing material, and it has several advantages. To start with, the constant flow of neutrons means PFTNA delivers unmatched performance stability. It’s also safer than radioactive isotope-based methods: not only does it generate no hazardous waste, but the neutron flow can switch off automatically when operators are nearby or during maintenance. And PFTNA can also dramatically reduce handling, transportation, and administration requirements.

Industry-leading instruments from Malvern Panalytical

The good news is that Malvern Panalytical offers an industry-leading range of PFTNA cross-belt analyzers. Developed in collaboration with Sodern, the world’s leading neutron tube supplier, our CNA analyzers support a wide range of materials and belt loads, and their detectors are designed to increase long-term stability and minimize stray neutrons. In particular, our CNA3 Sinter is ideal for iron sinter analysis. This instrument can analyze whole bulk samples of a broad range of sinter feed and iron sinter, including inhomogeneous material.

The options are endless…

But that’s not all. In addition to PFTNA analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD) is also a fast, versatile way to analyze sinter materials, particularly for their mineralogical composition. When used in combination with Rietveld analysis and partial least squares regression (PLSR), it can generate results in only eight minutes. An X-ray fluorescence (XRF) can also be a valuable sinter analysis method. In short, with our solutions, there’s an extensive range of options for keeping your processes efficient and your sinter and iron high-quality – just like perfectly baked bread.

Written by: Uwe König, Posted by: Malvern Panaltyical (www.materials-talks.com)

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