#EMreu11: Upgraded boiler controls enable greater use of waste fuels in Welsh steel facility

Emerson helps Tata Steel improve safety, emissions, and energy self-sufficiency

Tata Steel’s Port Talbot facility in Wales has upgraded control of its largest steam boiler using energy management technologies and services from Emerson Process Management. The new controls enable Tata to increase energy efficiency and maximise use of waste fuels, reducing emissions as well as reliance on purchased fuels.

Powerhouse operators monitor burner operation at Tata Steel’s Port Townsend facility

New instrumentation installed on burners at Tata Steel’s Port Townsend facility improves the efficiency and reliability of boiler operations

An operator interface display located near burners provides quick and easy access to boiler operating conditions at Tata Steel

This facility is Britain’s largest integrated steel mill, making over four and a half million tonnes per year of high-quality sheet steel for the automotive, construction and household appliance markets. It includes two blast furnaces and a basic oxygen furnace, as well as continuous casters and a strip rolling mill. To date, Emerson has upgraded controls on three of the site’s seven steam boilers.

“The boiler upgrades are helping us make better use of ‘indigenous’ waste fuels – such as blast furnace gas, BOS (basic oxygen steelmaking) gas and coke oven gas – that are by-products of our manufacturing process,” said Andrew Rees, manager of the upgrade project for Tata Steel. “The improved controls are part of a comprehensive energy management project that’s expected to reduce powerhouse energy consumption by three to five per cent and help Tata Steel achieve its vision of becoming energy self-sufficient.”

“Using waste fuels is an attractive way to reduce costs and emissions, but it’s also challenging because of their variable energy content,” said Chip Rennie, director of Emerson Process Management’s Global Industrial Energy Group. “Emerson’s technology significantly reduces the effects of that variability so users can maximise low-cost fuel use – while consistently meeting steam demands.”

At the Port Talbot facility, Emerson conducted a study to identify opportunities for improving powerhouse operations, as well as providing an integrated combustion control, burner management, and energy management solution. The solution included Emerson’s SmartProcess™ Energy and SmartProcess Boiler optimisation technologies, DeltaV™ digital automation system with model predictive control, DeltaV SIS™ process safety system, Rosemount® and Micro Motion® measurement instruments, Fisher® control valves, and Bettis™ and Hytork™ valve actuators.  Emerson also trained Tata’s operators using a simulator installed in the powerhouse, enabling them to gain experience with the new controls without affecting operations.

The boilers had previously required frequent attention by plant operators and the use of supplemental natural gas to compensate for the varying energy content of the waste fuels. After the upgrade, operational stability has greatly increased, and energy costs have decreased as better use of waste fuels has reduced the need for natural gas. Using more waste fuel to power the boilers instead of burning it in flares also helps reduce emissions. And the new safety system enables an orderly process shutdown if necessary.

“Powerhouse operations offer tremendous – and often overlooked – opportunities to improve process performance and profitability,” said Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management.  “In a tough business climate, complicated by unpredictable energy prices and tighter emission controls, the winners will be companies like Tata Steel who turn those opportunities to their advantage.”

About Eoin Ó Riain

Sé Read-out iris uaithoibríoch, ionstraim agus stiúradh na hÉireann agus an "Signpost" a áit ar an idirlín! Read-out is Ireland's journal of automation, instrumentation and control and the Instrumentation Signpost is it's web presence.
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