We'll work with you to understand your unique operational needs and goals to engineer a custom-designed solution. Our innovative burners and precision-control systems can help you optimize production and improve yield, reduce emissions while reducing energy costs, and increase process flexibility.
Below, you can read numerous success stories that explain how we helped resolve our customers' challenges and the benefits they realized based on our solutions.
Iron and Steel Case Studies
Updating cupola technology pays for itself in savings
Air Products' oxygen tuyere injection system dramatically reduces coke costs for company with large iron cupola.
Issue: Air Products approached a company with a large iron cupola and found out their coke rate was well above the industry average and that they were utilizing some outdated operating techniques.
Solution: Traveling to their plant to better understand their operation, Air Products applications engineers were able to confirm that the facility could realize significant savings by upgrading to an Air Products oxygen tuyere injection system. Our equipment engineering team worked with the on-site maintenance and project team to design a system to fit their cupola and operating conditions. Once installed, we performed a full-service startup and worked with the cupola operators to optimize the system. The result was more than enough savings on coke costs to cover their entire oxygen bill, as well as optimization and productivity improvements.
Soaking pit furnace sees outstanding savings
Cupola operator re-thinks old coke substitution rates
With the help of Air Products, a cupola operator evaluates ways to improve the efficiency and profitability of their process through oxygen enrichment and reduced coke usage.
Issue: Escalating coke prices have put a lot of pressure on cupola operators to improve the efficiency of their process and companies are looking at alternative fuels and oxygen-based technologies to reduce their coke demand and improve their profitability.
Solution: Over a decade ago, substituting 5 to 10% of coke with an alternative fuel was the upper limit. Above these substitution levels, spout temperatures, melt rates, and carbon pickup were negatively impacted. Also, at that time there was only a small price differential between coke and coal, and oxygen was relatively expensive. With changing market conditions, coke can now be two or three times more expensive than alternative fuels on an equivalent BTU basis and oxygen prices have remained stable. These new dynamics, along with Air Products’ technology advancements, favor using more oxygen to reduce coke and to increase alternative fuel substitution, while maintaining stable operations.
Air Products is working with a cupola operator to increase oxygen enrichment and slowly reduce coke with the goal of achieving net savings of $200- $300 per hour. In addition, our proprietary advanced control systems will be leveraged to monitor key process variables, such as temperatures and gas compositions. By analyzing variables which are not typically measured on a continuous basis at most sites, our scientists and applications engineers will be able to quickly optimize the fuel and oxygen balance within the cupola to yield efficiency improvements and cost savings.
Getting to the right solution for a rotary hearth furnace
With a thorough understanding of the furnace operations, Air Products engineers identify bottlenecks and develop a customized solution to deliver results.
Issue: A company with a large rotary hearth furnace approached Air Products wanting to buy two oxy-fuel burners.
Solution: Wanting to deliver the best solution, not just make a quick sale, Air Products applications engineers engaged the customer’s operations and plant personnel to better understand the challenges they were trying to solve and to determine if they were using oxygen safely and efficiently. With a combination of our combustion experience, time at the customer facility, computer modeling, testing in our combustion lab, and mass and energy balances, we were able to understand the bottlenecks in the customer’s process. Our solution involved a combination of burners, oxygen enrichment and direct oxygen injection in different zones of the furnace. We installed temporary flow controls, burners and injectors, and demonstrated the benefits of our solution—allowing the customer to quantify the significant productivity and product quality benefits and cost savings. Based on these results, the customer decided to implement oxygen on a permanent basis.
Ductile-iron-foundry gets help when coke prices skyrocket
By modifying proven technology, Air Products maximizes coke saving for a ductile iron foundry.
Issue: When coke prices hit record levels, Air Products specialists began looking for ways to help foundries stay competitive. Air Products identified an existing ductile iron foundry customer, that was technically progressive, had faith in Air Products’ technical ability, and could see the significant financial incentive in trying something a little different.
Solution: Air Products applications engineers worked to understand the specifics of the customer’s process and find a solution that was both technically and commercially suitable. An Air Products technologist drew upon the concepts of Air Products Cupola Oxygen System (APCOS), a technology developed in Europe to inject revert materials into cupolas. One critically important aspect of this technology was that it could also reduce coke consumption. Air Products equipment and advanced technology teams built on the APCOS technology with the introduction of new supersonic nozzles to enhance the efficiency of oxygen and natural gas penetration to maximize coke savings. Working closely with the customer, and tapping into a network of foundry industry resources, the technology was successfully integrated in their process, yielding significant savings. The customer has been operating the system for close to two years and is now looking to expand their use of the technology.
RFQ analysis saves steel mills time and money
Going beyond just bidding on a job, Air Products applications engineers identify ways to help potential customers find not just a supply option, but the best supply option for their application.
Issue: Many companies thinking of utilizing industrial gas will hire an engineering firm to evaluate their requirements, recommend a solution and write an RFQ for potential suppliers to bid on.
Solution: At Air Products, we evaluate these opportunities from more than just a commercial perspective. By understanding the industry and the applications for industrial gas, we will often make recommendations and propose better alternative solutions for supply.
For example, when a startup steel plant requested a quote for an on-site generator for their mill, we initiated an exchange of information which included analyzing the customer’s expected usage patterns, operating mode, and their planned production over the first five years. This allowed us to compare several supply modes to determine what would be the most suited for their application. In this case, liquid proved to be the best option for the first several years, and enabled the customer to achieve economic savings by substituting a fixed cost supply mode with variable cost, with no loss in reliability.
Similarly, while assisting a steel mill considering various industrial gas supply options to replace their aging on-site plant, Air Products went the extra mile. Rather than simply quoting on the provided RFQ, we presented additional guidance that addressed operating patterns, power consumption and supplied purity. We then worked with the prospect mill to write a revised RFQ which better suited their requirements, with no guarantee that we would get the order. Fortunately, with our industry experience, superior engineering and technology, we were selected for this supply and the customer has achieved significant savings.
Solving steel casting issues
Stop casts and downgraded material are overcome with technical assistance and solutions from Air Products.
Issue: A steel customer was experiencing quality problems during casting which were not only causing downgraded material, but were at times also cause for halting production. Specifically, certain steel grades which are exposed to air during casting, will allow for oxide formation that leads to undesirable inclusions and premature end to casting. Their technical team requested Air Products’ assistance to find a solution.
Solution: With experience in steel making as well as cryogenic inert gas flow, we worked with the customer to set up a trial where liquid argon could be sprayed into the hot tundish prior to cast. After several site visits, design and safety discussions, we provided temporary equipment, on-site support and monitoring methodology to combat this costly problem. The trials were successful and we continued to work closely with the customer to install the permanent, simple and least-cost solution. Shortly after installation of this solution, the quality problems were not only minimized, but this new practice was standardized, resulting in significantly reduced clogging and subsequent stop casts.
Non-ferrous Case Studies
Secondary aluminum processor sees company-wide improvement after thorough review
Identification and correction of calibration and control logic errors, and installation of a new burner delivers higher production, better recoveries and lower flux usage.
Issue: We visited an aluminum processor with rotary and reverb furnaces which was supplied by a competitor. After discussing our latest technology we were invited to take a plant tour to see if we could improve their operation.
Solution: Based on the short tour Air Products applications engineers arranged to come back to the site for a thorough overview of the operation. The team spent several days onsite and identified many operational issues, equipment problems and opportunities to improve the combustion technology, which had not been upgraded in over a decade. The team found numerous calibration and control logic errors during a full inspection of the existing oxygen and gas flow trains—leading to both inaccurate control and unresponsive control of valves. Once issues with the equipment and controls were fixed, the Air Products team installed a new burner better suited for the process. With this combination of Air Products recommendations and improvements, the company has realized higher production, better recoveries and lower flux usage. The implementation was so successful that the company is now working with Air Products to evaluate new burner developments so they can continue to make enhancements.
Continuous cast copper rod manufacturer increases amount of scrap use
Novel burner enables use of recycled copper and delivers savings and improved product quality.
Relationship generates 25% more product for regenerative reverberatory furnace
On-site analysis, teamwork and customized computer modeling provide welcome relief for aluminum producer's cast house challenges.
Issue: As the economy rebounded and demand increased, an aluminum customer’s cast house became a bottleneck. Air Products had previously presented the benefits of oxy-fuel combustion for their operation, so the customer re-engaged Air Products in search of a production increase of 25% for one of their reverberatory melting furnaces.
Solution: After spending time onsite with the customer’s engineers and operators, Air Products had the necessary data to build a computer model of the furnace. The computational modeling was critical, allowing us to simulate the furnace temperature and melt rates if oxy-fuel burners were installed at the plant, in conjunction with their regenerative air-fuel burners. Visiting Air Products’ Combustion Labs in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the maintenance manager for the facility was very clear, stating “We need a partner, not a supplier.” He stated that their specialties are melting metal, casting billets and making aluminum extrusions, not oxy-fuel combustion. With Air Products’ oxy-fuel system and the new collaborative relationship, the project was a success and the customer is now melting 25% more metal per day, resulting in more extrusions and higher profits. Based on this success, they are looking to expand the use of our oxy-fuel systems to their other furnaces.
High yields achieved for forward thinking secondary aluminum producer
True cooperation delivers outstanding yield improvements and advanced controls development.
Issue: Air Products has been supplying technology to the secondary aluminum industry for over 30 years. In fact, most companies using oxy-fuel systems in this industry are using Air Products technology. Air Products’ patented High-Yield Oxy-fuel Burner was developed for use in rotary furnaces to minimize melt losses and flux usage, while increasing productivity. The benefits were proven in several beta sites and commercial installations in the US and Europe. To take it to the next level, and further quantify the benefits under various operating conditions, Air Products sought a forward thinking manufacturer.
Solution: Air Products turned to a secondary aluminum industry leader with unique capabilities. As yield is a very difficult parameter to measure accurately, we knew this cutting-edge company would be up to the challenge. Through proprietary software of their own, they were able to track the benefits of the innovative burner, by scrap type, in one of their rotary furnaces. Now they are converting all their furnaces to the new burner design. They are not only advocates of the yield improvement but are working with Air Products engineers to develop the next generation of advanced controls.
Maximizing precious metal productivity
Implementation of world class technology doubles productivity for precious metals producer.
Issue: When an existing precious metal producer hired a new metallurgist, he realized that there was a lot of opportunity for productivity improvement as precious metal prices increased and looked to Air Products for assistance.
Solution: Air Products knew that with the value of precious metals increasing, the economics of implementing our world class technology could increase the customer’s productivity and maximize their return. Our applications engineers devoted several months to educating our customer on potential process and technical improvements, including escorted trips to visit other sites utilizing these advanced practices and technologies. The customer embraced the recommendations and has doubled their productivity in the last year with just process improvements alone. Productivity is expected to further improve once the oxygen-based technology improvements are completed later this year.
Hotter and cleaner process for aluminum RSI producer
Producer of aluminum remelt secondary ingot (RSI) gets faster cycle times and fewer emissions with Air Products' custom-fit burner design.
Over fifteen years ago, Greenway Industries recognized a need for a rotary furnace operation in Ontario, Canada and stepped up to fill the void. From the beginning, Greenway has been committed to progressive technology, believing that would translate into better yields and happier customers. To do this, Greenway turned to Air Products for its proprietary oxy-fuel burners. “We have a good working relationship with Air Products, both from a technical and sales standpoint,” states Rob Rakovsky, Vice President at Greenway Industries, continuing “We are now on our third rotary furnace using Air Products’ oxy-fuel technology and currently operate a 27,000 pound furnace and a 36,000 pound furnace boasting an empirical capacity of 10-12 million pounds of metal production per month.”
Greenway Industries makes aluminum remelt secondary ingot (RSI) in a multitude of grades, including at this time, 380, 356, 6061, 6063, 3104, 3105, and 3003. The RSI is cast into 2000 pound sows which are sold to the automotive foundries, die casters, rolling and sheet mills, and billet casters. The scrap material being recycled is processed in two rotary furnaces which have the oxy-fuel burner mounted on the door. Once the door is closed, the furnace becomes a closed vessel where computer monitoring is used to adjust the stoichiometric ratios, controlling the atmosphere in the furnace. This controlled furnace atmosphere produces less oxidation and therefore better yields with fewer emissions according to Greenway’s Rakovsky. “We believe that the oxy-fuel system gives us a faster cycle time than with natural gas (and ambient air) alone,” says Mr. Rakovsky, continuing “and it creates a win/win/win situation for our customers, our business, and the environment.”
As experienced by Greenway, Air Products offers state-of-the-art oxy-fuel burner systems with flame shape, size, luminosity and oxygen retention all designed specifically for rotary furnaces. The company’s proven burner, flue arrangements and door designs are in use at more than 25 rotary furnaces in the United States alone. These burners process a variety of feeds including dross, scrap and contaminated materials. Air Products’ melting experience in single and double pass rotaries and reverb furnaces — coupled with our burner’s flame characteristics — have been proven to deliver higher production rates and improved recoveries than can be obtained using natural gas and ambient air.
Using a dedicated team of specialists, Air Products’ continually develops innovative new offerings to meet its customers’ needs, while being a leader in both delivery reliability and safety. “Our goal is to deliver results,” explains Frank Romano, Lead Engineer at Air Products, continuing, “We put our experience to work for our customers, whether it’s higher production rates, greater yields, improved emissions or troubleshooting a problem. Our dedicated team of aluminum specialists and local account support will work together to meet your needs.”
Greenway Industries’ Rakovsky summarizes the technology this way, “Air Products’ oxy-fuel system burns hotter, burns cleaner and with less emissions,” enabling Greenway to focus on its mission of providing quality products to its customers, while growing its market share.
To learn how Air Products’ state-of-the-art oxy-fuel technology can help you increase your production and lower your costs, contact us.
Note: Since the writing of this article, Greenway has discontinued operations.
Increasing yield and production in a successful secondary aluminum plant
Detailed computer analysis and process evaluation yields a custom solution.
Issue: A large secondary aluminum processor with multiple rotary furnaces wanted to increase yield and production. Already highly successful, they looked to Air Products for further improvement to help their bottom line.
Solution: Air Products scientists and applications engineers welcomed the challenge. During several site visits and working to understand the customer’s requirements, our team evaluated everything that can influence combustion in the operation, including flue size, burner types, burner placements and orientation, firing rate setpoints, stoichiometric ratios and more. This extensive analysis, combined with computer modeling of the furnace, identified that our High-Yield Oxy-fuel Burner would be a good fit for their operation. This patented burner*, designed specifically for aluminum rotary furnaces, can provide even heating throughout the entire furnace, as well as the ability to keep the free oxygen within the flame envelope, thereby minimizing any oxidation of aluminum that can result in yield loss.
* U.S. Patent No. 8404018