How modern XRD techniques in DRI process control can help the steel industry to reach net-zero
Do you remember what the last disaster movie you watched was about? Perhaps the world was faced with a zombie apocalypse, a fast-approaching meteor or an extreme global weather event. Whatever the plotline, it almost certainly wasn’t about the sudden and mysterious disappearance of steel from our world. And yet, without this essential metal, civilization as we know it would come crashing down – literally!
Steel is more fundamental to our lives than most of us realize. Thanks to its versatility, high strength, and relatively low production costs, we rely on it for global infrastructure, transport, and technology. But there’s a catch. For all its benefits, steel is also highly energy-intensive to manufacture. In fact, the steelmaking industry accounts for almost 8% of global CO2 emissions. To bring this important sector in line with the 2050 net-zero emissions target set out by the Paris agreement, the steel industry will have to make some big changes – and fast!
DRI: Reducing carbon emissions in steel manufacture
And the transition has already started. Direct reduced iron (DRI), also known as sponge iron, is a manufacturing method that enables significant CO2 emission reductions in steelmaking. It is produced from the direct reduction of iron ore using a reducing gas (such as hydrogen or carbon monoxide) from either natural gas or coal. This is great news for the long-term sustainability of the steel industry. But the hard work isn’t over yet! To achieve maximum efficiency in the DRI production process, several parameters need to be monitored, including metallic iron content, metallization, total carbon content, and mineralogical phase content.
Delivering the tools to drive sustainable change
And guess what? Modern X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques make this process control possible! In comparison to traditional analysis techniques such as wet chemistry, which are time-consuming and labor-intensive, XRD enables fast and reliable mineralogical analysis. And beyond its quick analysis of mineralogical phase composition, XRD also provides information about the efficiency of the reduction process. This means that the raw material mixture can be optimized – saving steel manufacturers time, money and energy!
The Metals edition of our Aeris technology is a benchtop X-ray diffractometer that combines all these functions and more. By bringing together state-of-the-art XRD technology, full automation and high sample throughput in just one tool, Aeris provides an all-in-one solution for efficient DRI process control. Plus, thanks to its straightforward user interface, this compact tool makes XRD accessible to everyone, going from sample loading to results in one simple click. It’s the perfect partner at every stage of the production process – from raw material to final product.
Smart solutions from Malvern Panalytical
At Malvern Panalytical, we offer a range of analytical solutions to help enable a more sustainable future for the mining industry. From X-ray fluorescence (XRF) tools, which can be used to monitor impurities or limit waste composition, to XRD solutions to make mineralogical monitoring more efficient, we provide support throughout the mining process. It’s time to stop imagining what the future will be for the steel industry – and start creating it!
Written by: Uwe Konig, Posted by: Malvern Panalytical (www.materials-talks.com)