Enter the Knowledge platform
PREMA is a H2020 project aimed at demonstrating an innovative suite of technologies, involving utilization of industrial off-gases and solar thermal energy to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions from manganese production as a means to obtain sustainable production of Mn-alloys and steel.
The main concept of PREMA is to increase energy flexibility and allow the use of sustainable energy sources and reduce the overall energy consumption and CO2 emission in Mn-alloy production. This will be done by dividing the Mn-alloy production, today done in submerged arc furnaces (SAF), into two separate units as illustrated below. A pretreatment unit will be added before the existing furnace. Within the project various pretreatment technologies using different energy sources like: CO-rich industrial off-gas, bio-carbon and solar thermal energy will be developed and demonstrated.
Integration of the novel PREMA pretreatment technologies with the process currently used by smelters will lead to a better flexibility in terms of raw materials leading to a 20% reduction in the consumption of fossil carbon, more energy efficient production processes giving a potential for a 20% reduction in overall energy consumption and a global reduction of operation costs by at least 10%. The ultimate ambition of PREMA is to scale the technology up to use in industrial manganese alloy production both in Europe and South Africa.
PREMA is implemented by a consortium, gathering all producers of Mn-alloys in western Europe and one from South Africa, innovative technology providers for Mn-processing and use of renewable energy sources, research and academia organizations with global expertise in Mn ores processing and use of solar thermal energy. The expertise gathered in the consortium allows to cover the whole value chain as well as different specific needs for the development in PREMA.
Deployment and the anticipated impact are at the heart of the project as a response to the needs of energy intensive industries to adapt their production processes and unit operations to increasingly sustainable, but highly fluctuating energy supply as reflected in the CE-SPIRE-03-2018 call energy and resource flexibility in highly energy intensive industries. Through its multinational collaboration the project will also intensify the co-operation between Africa and the EU in the area of raw materials as outlined in the joint Africa-EU strategy mentioned in the Raw Materials Initiative.
phone: +47 995 19 645
Tweets by PremaProject
The overall objective of PREMA is to demonstrate a technology for pretreatment of manganese ores that will enable to increase energy flexibility, energy efficiency, enhance raw material use of fines, and reduce CO2 emissions in production of Mn-alloys.
The above mentioned overall objective of PREMA can be split into the following scientific and technological objectives:
WP 1: Pretreatment technology addresses development of preheating and prereduction technologies best suited for pretreatment of manganese ores that lead to an increase in energy flexibility and reduction of the overall energy consumption and CO2 emissions of Mn alloy production processes. The development and choice of the most suitable pretreatment technologies will also take into account the different furnace set ups, the properties of the input material and the site specific conditions related to the availability of energy sources/carriers. The most promising technologies will be tested in pilot scale, producing materials for further furnace pilot tests. The results will lead to a definition of parameters, necessary to design and engineer an appropriate pretreatment process that is ready to be industrialized.
WP 2: Development of solar thermal technology will validate solar thermal technology as a viable option of energy source for high temperature processes. The development will take into account the characterization of solar resource and environmental conditions that may impact the performance of solar technologies (e.g. dust deposition) at manganese smelter sites, testing of Heliopod heliostats technology and design, construction and demonstration of two pilot facilities producing hot air continuously with solar thermal energy: a solar thermal plant with thermal storage producing hot air 24h/day at 800°C and a solar thermal plant to preheat manganese ores with hot air continuously at 800°C for 48 hours in a row installed at a shaft kiln.
WP 3: Raw materials. This part of the project aims at an in-depth characteristics of the Mn ores as input material and products essential for the choice and design of pretreatment technology and recommendation of parameters for the operation of the pretreatment units. The data will provide key input information about the actual Mn-sources required to select, design and engineer technologies suited to preheat and prereduce these materials to obtain target temperatures, as well as to model upscaling from pilot tests to industrial pretreatment units and optimization of industrial operations of pretreating different Mn ores.
WP 4: Demonstration of the effect on furnace energy efficiency and CO2 emission involves a 4-week demonstration campaign in pilot scale of integration of the preheating and furnace operations with one of the raw material sources. The effect of pretreatment in final Mn-alloy production on submerged arc furnaces will be found through pilot scale testing of each of the actual ores. For each of the actual Mn-sources and pretreatment methods, the effect of the pretreated raw materials on energy consumption, CO2 emission and environmental impact during industrial production of Mn-alloys will be assessed. The effect of using industrial CO-rich off-gases from Mn-alloy production and their variations on Mn-ore pretreatment will be determined by a long term pilot campaign at the production site of FerroGlobe.
WP 5: System integration, environmental impact and business models assesses the economic feasibility for the different technology options of industrial scale pretreatment based on different energy sources and their integration with existing industrial facilities for production of Mn-alloys. The assessment will be supported by an exploitation strategy including a business plan for the implementation of pretreatment technology at the facilities of the industrial project partners. The solutions will also be assessed from the view point of the environmental impacts, especially the effect on CO2 emission and energy consumption. This will be estimated by linking system simulation with environmental footprint using LCA and Life Cycle Cost analysis tools.
WP 6: Dissemination, Training and Communication is dedicated to raise awareness about the project, ensure timely dissemination of PREMA results, communication with stakeholders and development of new green skills relevant to the technological advancements developed under PREMA through organization of two Manganese schools.
Jülich, Germany: DLR Demo Site - experimental solar thermal power plant
At the site in Jülich, DLR operates the Jülich solar tower, an experimental solar thermal power plant. It is a pilot plant with a research and a receiver test facility. An entire level of the building, half way up the solar tower of the Jülich experimental solar thermal power plant is dedicated to research. This is where up to 1 MW of highly concentrated sunlight is available for experiments. New components and processes are tested with the objective of making solar power plants more efficient and less costly. Also, production processes for solar fuels and the use of solar energy for industrial processes are being studied, for example, the desalination of seawater. During PreMa, a demonstration of solar thermal plant with thermal storage producing hot air 24h/day at 800°C will be carried out.
Randburg, South Africa: Mintek Demo Site
The Demo site at Randburg, South Africa, will demonstrate the heating of manganese ores with hot air (800°C). The work at the site will include the design, installation, commissioning and demonstration of a project specific shaft kiln and an air heating facility (fossil fuel based). These units will be integrated with existing off-gas handling facilities. Together with the demonstration at Jülich, Germany, where hot air will be produced with solar thermal energy, this will demonstrate the solar thermal preheating of manganese ores.
The Bay 2 integrated preheating and smelting facility at MINTEK integrates a rotary kiln operation (used for preheating) with either that of AC- or DC-furnace smelting technologies which could be operated in either open or submerged arc mode. During PreMa, a 24/7 operation over a number of weeks will demonstrate the effect that preheating of manganese ore to 600ᵒC in the rotary kiln, has on the electrical energy consumption and CO2-production in an AC-furnace operated in submerged arc mode when producing high carbon ferromanganese.
Trondheim, Norway: SINTEF/NTNU Demo site
Submerged arc 440 kVA pilot furnace located at NTNU/SINTEF. The furnace has an effect of up to 180 kW and can be run in open or semiclosed mode. It can be equipped with either two top electrodes or one top and one bottom electrode. The lining is aluminium based and is rebuilt for each experiment. The furnace is equipped with system for off-gas measurements and equipment suited for the actual tasks are installed from SINTEF's range of available tools. Typically, around 500 kg of material is continuously casted per day from the furnace. After experiment, the furnace is filled with epoxy and cross-sections of the furnace are sliced. Reaction mechanisms can then be studied in the casted cross sections.
A video of the furnace in operation is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H8bQT7_1cg
In PreMa the effect of pretreatment on furnace performance will be demonstrated in pilot scale for Mn-ores used by all manganese producers in the project. As a reference, pilot tests with untreated ores will be done. In total 11 pilot experiments will be performed within the PreMa project. To enable better study of the prereduction zone, a new and higher furnace pot will be built.
Pilot testing of SiMn production for SFI Metal Production Representatives from Eramet, FerroGlobe Sintef and NTNU at work in the experiment.
Pilot experiments SFI MP 2015
Mo i Rana, Norway: FerroGlobe Mangan AS Demo site
Ferroglobe Mangan AS is a manganese ferroalloy producer placed in Mo i Rana inside Mo Industripark. Mo Industripark is one of Norway’s largest industrial clusters with more than 100 companies inside the industrial area. GMN employs 88 people on a full-time basis, operating both a sintering plant and two smelters of a total annual capacity if 120.000-180.000 mt. of manganese alloys.
The effect on pretreatment Mn-ore by the use of industrial CO-rich off-gases and the variation in these will be investigated by FerroGlobe. A continues shaft furnace will be custom built for FerroGlobe for this purpose. The size of the unit and amount of material to be handled will be decided as a part of the project. The shaft furnace will be placed in the tapping hall and connected to the gas-distribution system there.
Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Outotec GmbH & Co. KG Demo site
Frankfurt Research Center is renowned for pioneering experimental research and versatile raw material testing in pilot plants. From rotary kilns and iron ore pelletizing to fluidized bed applications, the Frankfurt Research Center serves Outotec's customers in metals and ores processing and energy industries.
Some of the key developments over the last 80 years include:
Outotec's Research Centers have also played a central role in developing plant digitalisation solutions.
During the PreMa project, testing in both a small rotary kiln, as well as fluidized beds, will be performed in order to determine parameters necessary for equipment and process design and the costs related to the chosen technology. This will help to find the right technology for processing the investigated ores and in producing enough material for further treatment in the downstream process.
Trappes, France: ERAMET IDEAS demo site
The Vernon Furnace is a 4m long rotary kiln with a 0.48 m internal diameter, equipped with a burner of max 220KW. It can be used as a dryer (co-current with lifter) or as a calciner (counter-current, possible addition of solid reductant, discharge temperature up to 1050°C). The feed rate of this furnace ranges from 50 to 300kg/h with a residence time that can be set from 20min to 2h.
In the frame of PreMa project, it is planned to use this furnace by the end of 2019 for the production of pre-treated Mn ores (pre-heated or pre-reduced with solid reductant). The pre-treated ores will then be used as a feed for further melting tests and characterization.
The Vernon Furnace
The Vernon Furnace output
SINTEF belongs to the top 20 research organizations in the European Framework Programs with the expertise in metal production and recycling. It is also one of the largest independent contract research organizations in Scandinavia and the 4th largest in Europe. SINTEF offers high competence within materials technology, applied chemistry, sustainable energy sources and applied biology and has large and advanced laboratory infrastructure for investigations within these areas. SINTEF works closely with industry in development of advanced materials, products, processes and new tools, and seeks out new, environmentally friendly processing methods that will increase productivity and raise quality standards. SINTEF works closely with Norwegian and international ferroalloy and aluminum industry and has built up competence within subjects relevant for this industry and advanced metallurgical laboratories from nano to pilot scale.
SINTEF is the coordinator of the project.
phone: +47 97 73 02 67
NTNU is Norway's main technical university and ranked number 4 of universities in the world that have the closest collaboration with industry. Department of Material Science and Engineering has a strong cooperation with the Norwegian industry regarding research. The department focuses on experimental work and has extensive laboratory facilities with both pilot scale and small scale equipment. The department has been working with the Norwegian Mn industry in the area of pretreatment of Mn ores since the mid 1980’ies.
Ferroglobe Mangan Norge AS is one of the world's largest producers of ferrous and silicon manganese located in Mo i Rana Mo Industripark - one of Norway’s largest industrial clusters with more than 100 companies inside the industrial area. Ferroglobe Mangan Norge AS operates both a sintering plant and two smelters of a total annual capacity if 120.000-180.000 mt. of manganese alloys.
phone: +47 913 98 912
Mintek is South Africa’s national mineral research organization and is one of the world’s leading technology organizations specializing in mineral processing, extractive metallurgy and related areas. MINTEK works closely with industry and other R&D institutions and provides service test work, process development and optimization, consulting and innovative products to clients worldwide. It promotes mineral technology and fosters the establishment and expansion of industries in the field of minerals and products derived therefrom. The technical programmes at Mintek are aimed at generating high economic returns for the national and regional economies while social programmes focus on skills development and educational initiatives.
phone: +27 11 709 4181
Transalloys is a well-recognized global supplier of silicomanganese, and the largest silicomanganese producer in South Africa. The production plant is situated in the Mpumalanga Province and its production capacity is approximately 170 000 tonnes of Silicomanganese a year. It is owned by Mineral Mining Consulting, which is a member of the Renova Group of Companies which has a share in the UMK manganese mine situated in the Kalahari, from where the ore is sourced for conversion to Silicomanganese. Manganese ore used in the production process originates from the Northern Cape Province of South Africa which is known to contain 75% of the world’s identified manganese ore reserves.
phone: +27 82 763 7524
Stellenbosch University is among South Africa's leading university and is recognized internationally as an academic institution of excellence. It’s main research areas are power plant cooling systems, turbomachinery, renewable energy systems, biomedical engineering, automation and human vibration. Stellenbosch University has an established record of conducting research related to solar thermal energy. The Solar Thermal Energy Research Group (STERG) was the first university research group in South Africa dedicated to solar thermal energy research. STERG research focuses on most aspects of concentrating solar power plants.
phone: +27 21 808 4046
DLR, the German Aerospace Center, is Germany’s national research center for aeronautics, space, transport and energy. The DLR Institute of Solar Research is the largest research entity in Germany investigating and developing concentrating solar technologies to provide heat, electricity and solar fuels. It has a long history in the development of solar receivers for high temperatures. Since 2005 it has been working on particle receivers, focusing on process heat applications. In 2010, it started work on the centrifugal particle receiver, successfully operating at 775°C.
OFZ, a. s. is one of the most important suppliers of ferroalloys for the region of Central Europe, where almost 93% of the production is sold. It is a diversified manufacturer of ferroalloys in Central Europe, located centrally in relation to the metallurgical centers of Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria. The company manufactures and offers a wide range of manganese and silicon ferroalloys and cored wires with the fillers of CaSi, S, C, CaFe, CaFeAl, Ti, FeSi. Its manufacturing program also includes by-products from furnace dust and slag-products for the building industry: Microsilica-Sioxid, Grasimat, and Simat. It focuses on raw materials sourcing & processing and on developing solutions for businesses on every stage of innovation cycle.
phone: +421 907 179 165
Outotec is a global leader in minerals and metals processing technology. It provides leading technologies and services for the sustainable use of Earth’s natural resources, including minerals and metals processing, industrial water treatment and the production of renewable fuels. It serves customers in the metals, mining, energy and resource management industry. Due to its experience in developing technologies, Outotec has extensive range of solutions for processing virtually all types of ores and concentrates to refined metals. Its services and solutions range from pre-feasibility studies to complete plants with life-cycle services. Outotec has developed direct reduction processes for iron ores as an alternative to blast furnace application including Circofer and Circored and ilmenite treatment.
Contact:Pasi Mäkelä (Outotec OY)
Contact:Christian Binder (Outotec GmbH)
ERAMET is a metallurgical and mining company in the sector of Ni, Mn and Ti of surficial or deposits. It is also a world leader in alloying metals, particularly nickel and manganese, and in high quality metallurgy. The Research Centre of ERAMET (ERAMET Research) taking part in PREMA is dedicated to metallurgical process development leading to industrial implementations in mining, beneficiation, recycling and metal producing plants. It is used to run R&D program at laboratory and pilot scale and to give all technical information for the development of industrial processes.
ERAMET Norway supplies refined manganese alloys to steel producers worldwide and is the world’s second largest producer of manganese and manganese ore.
HZDR, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden–Rossendorf is a non-profit research organization and a member of the German” Helmholtz Association”. It deals with application-oriented basic research, focused on three major research topics: matter, energy and health. HZDR consists of eight institutes, of which the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF) participates in PreMa. It is engaged in the development of innovative technologies for the economy so that different raw materials can be made available and used more efficiently or recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. HIF holds extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of exploration, mining, processing and metallurgical treatment of complex waste materials as well as in the analysis and characterization of those materials.
phone: +49 351 260 4411
IETU, Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas is an R&D unit acting under the Ministry of Environment. IETU carries out research and development projects as well as provides consulting services for local and state authorities, regulators and businesses focused on environmental challenges posed by industrialized and urbanized areas in the context of circular economy, resource efficiency, adaptation to climate change and mitigation of its effects. IETU has gained a multi-year experience in dissemination and communication activities, C&D work for numerous international projects. It has experience in the development of C&D plans and strategies, outreach publications, policy briefs, newsletters, dissemination materials, video clips, project web sites, ICT platforms, organization of workshops and conferences, stakeholder interaction and networking etc.
phone: +48 691 566 888
A suite of the pretreatment technologies developed under PREMA will provide a higher flexibility in the use of energy sources and allow substitution of coal and electricity with solar energy, bio-carbon and energy containing waste gas streams. Also the technology will be made flexible enough to be adapted easily to the specific needs and production routes of each Mn-producer, the main difference being the use of different ores.
Improved process efficiency and reduction of negative environmental impacts
The implementation of pretreatment of the Mn‑ore will result in improvement of process efficiency through re-utilization of energy and/or material process. CO2 emissions and the environmental impact in terms of the main key performance indicators will be significantly reduced.
Actions undertaken within the PREMA project will lead to cost reduction of the process by at least 10% through the implementation of a flexible scheme in raw materials, including secondary raw materials, process and product quality specifications.
New options for waste streams recycling
In addition to ore also other materials can be treated in the pretreatment unit. It will thus present an opportunity to utilize and recycle waste streams and contribute to the circular economy.
Improved process safety
PREMA will also have a major impact on process safety. The pretreatment will remove all MnO2 and reduce the amount of Zn in the raw materials fed to the submerged arc furnace. High levels of these compounds, especially for closed furnace operation, present a risk of furnace explosions. By lowering the levels of these compounds, PREMA will minimize this risk.
A boost to a more competitive production of Mn-alloys
PREMA’s main economic impact will be to ensure competitive production of Mn-alloys in Western Europe and South Africa by reducing operating costs and effects of high energy prices. The costs increased by carbon taxes in Western Europe will be mitigated by reduced CO2 emissions. This will reduce the risk of moving more of manganese-alloy production out of Europe and South Africa.
Green skills and new jobs
With the exploitation of the PREMA value drivers, reduced emissions, increased energy efficiency, there will be an increasing need of resources dedicated to the design, construction, modification and maintenance of existing and new production units at Manganese production facilities. New jobs are expected to be created in the concentrated solar thermal sector.
New opportunities for research and scientific carriers
The technology advances and innovative results in PREMA will provide the academic and research centers with the opportunity to develop new research groups, projects and expand curricula. It is expected to trigger the creation of new research jobs. Process competence and laboratory equipment developed as part of PREMA will be used for new R&D projects. They can also be used for educational purposes for universities for professional training courses.
1. Solar Thermal Applications in Minerals Processing in South Africa by Lina Hockaday
2. The Impact of Solar Resource Characteristics on Solar Thermal Pre-heating of Manganese Ores by Lina Hockaday, Tristan McKechnie, Martina Neises von Puttkamer, Matti Lubkoll
3. The Development of a Heat and Mass Transfer Model for a Shaft Kiln to Preheat Manganese Ore with Hot Air, Model Development Methodology by Sifiso Sambo, Lina Hockaday, Tumisang Seodigeng
4. A CFD-Based Approach to Selecting a Concentrating Solar Thermal Plant Site Location Around a Ferromanganese Smelter by Milan Swart, Ken Craig, Lina Hockaday
5. FactSage-Based Design Calculations for the Production of High-Carbon Ferromanganese on Pilot-Scale by Joalet Steenkamp
6. Upgrading Pilot-Scale Facility at MINTEK to Evaluate the Effect of Preheating on Smelter Operations by Joalet Steenkamp, Glen Denton, Tertius Pieters
7. Method to Quantify the Effect of Temperature and Rotational Speed on the Decrepitation of South African Manganese Ores in a Rotary Kiln by Moholwa, Joalet Steenkamp, Limo Rutto
8. Wireless Communication For A Modular Heliostat Field by Andreas Liebenber, Willie Smit
1. Ferroglobe tester ut nyskapende teknologi i stort EU-prosjekt, 29 January 2019
2. Eramet Norway sustainability report; April 2019
3. Reviving the ferroalloys industry, 27 September 2019
Text of the PreMa Press release 1 - 11/2019:
The Horizon 2020 project PreMa to boost a more competitive, greener production of manganese ferroalloys in Europe
More than 90% of the manganese produced worldwide goes to steel sector where it is used as an alloying element essential for improving the quality of steel. In recent years, global demand for manganese alloys (Mn-alloys) showed an increasing tendency reaching in 2018 the level of about 22 mill tons. At the same time Mn-alloys production is highly energy and carbon intensive resulting in a significant global warming potential mainly due to power generation and fuel combustion. It is estimated that a direct emission (i.e. excluding electricity and off-site emissions) generated by each kilogram of produced Mn alloy is on the level of about 2 kg of CO2 emission equivalent, although it may vary across different producers. To lower this emission footprint, new technologies are in demand that would enable renewables become a source of energy supply for the process. They will help reduce the direct and indirect CO2 emissions resulting from Mn alloys production, make it more sustainable and flexible in terms of energy sources used and thus more competitive.
PreMa, a Horizon 2020 co-funded project “Energy efficient, primary production of manganese ferroalloys through the application of novel energy systems in the drying and preheating of furnace feed materials” aims to deliver a suite of new technological solutions to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions from manganese production. PreMa project is targeting optimization of the whole value chain in manganese ferroalloy production through improving the energy efficiency of the process based on sub-merged arc furnace (SAF) technology, which is currently extremely energy intensive.
“The main concept of PREMA consist in dividing the current Mn-alloy production process in SAF into a two-step process by adding a furnace feedstock pretreatment unit using novel, sustainable energy systems for drying and preheating of Mn ores involving alternative energy sources such as bio-carbon, CO2 rich off-gas and concentrated solar thermal systems. They will be developed and tested in a large scale demos to substitute the currently used fossil fuels and electricity” - says Eli Ringdalen, the coordinator of PreMa project.
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) will be implemented from early stages of the technologies development to ensure the technical, economic and environmental viability of the proposed solutions across the whole Mn-alloys production value chain.
PreMa consortium puts together a total of 11 Mn-alloys production facilities spread over Europe including Transalloys in SA, Eramet in France and Norway, Ferroglobe in Norway and OFZ in Slovakia as well partners from South Africa - the top first country in high quality manganese ores extraction and exports worldwide.
It ensures a win-win situation in the market uptake of the developed new technologies in order to strengthen the Mn-alloys and steel value chains in Europe. The innovative character of the project is brought by major players in R&D across Europe and South Africa, with the Norwegian organisation SINTEF as coordinator. PreMa project was initiated in November 2018 and will be implemented for 48 months.
PreMa innovative solutions are expected to deliver concrete results for Mn alloys production in Europe such as energy savings up to 25%, CO2 emissions reduced by 15%, 20% less fossil carbon consumed and operating costs reduced by 10%.
Text of the PreMa Press release 2 - 09/2021:
PreMa is all about increased energy flexibility and the use of sustainable energy sources followed by reduction of the overall energy consumption and CO2-emission
There is a constantly increasing political as well as social pressure to turn industrial processes into more effective ones with less environmental burden. It refers especially to sectors that are highly energy and resource consuming and contribute in large numbers to CO2-emissions. Metallurgy definitely belongs to them.
With an objective of near-zero emissions, a supply chain approach is needed demanding that the involved processes are more energy and resource efficient causing less
environmental impacts. Mn alloys production belongs to these processes. Mn in a form of ferroalloy is an important additive for high quality steel production. It decreases the brittleness of steel and imparts its strength. It is thus an essential part of the value chain, however at the same time a significant contributor to its environmental burden due to energy consumption, dependence on fossil fuels (mainly carbon) and the resulting CO2-emissions.
About 1.8 billion tons of steel was produced in 2020, which generated about 2.6 billion tons of direct CO2-emissions1, correlating to 7-9% of the total global emissions. To produce steel of high quality, around 1-5% of manganese alloys is added to the steel. As production and consumption of steel is expected to increase in the foreseen future, so will the need for good alloying elements, such as ferromanganese. In 2020 about 4.74 million tons of ferromanganese alloys (not including SiMn) were produced worldwide2. Basing on values from 2012 with a similar production volume, the estimated electrical energy consumption in 2020 was 14500 GWh and direct CO2 -emissions generated in the process of Mn-alloys production reached 16.8 million tons3.
Although a lot has been done in the area of energy efficiency improvements over the last decade to reduce the CO2-emission levels from the steel sector, new approaches still need to be implemented to accelerate deployment of innovations for low emission processes including those involving renewable energy sources. At the racketing prices for CO2 emissions at the European as well as global markets, Mn manufacturers are becoming more open to innovations that may help them reduce the operational costs and improve the environmental profile by cutting down the consumption of electric energy and the resultant CO2-emissions.
How PreMa will address these needs and expectations
The objective of the PreMa project is to develop technologies allowing for reduction of the overall electric energy and fossile carbon materials use resulting in reduction in CO2-emission end energy consumption.
PreMa is addressing this by developing and demonstrating a technology for pre-treatment of manganese ores to increase energy source flexibility, energy efficiency, enhance use of raw material fines and reduce CO2-emissions in production of Mn-alloys.
Our research and development efforts are to provide that PreMa delivers a process that is:
PreMa’s ambition is to provide a novel technology developed in collaboration with all European Mn-alloy manufacturers, that will allow to reduce energy consumption up to 25% and CO2-emissions up to 15% in Europe. If Europe still holds its relative global production share from 2013, this correlates to 780 GWh electrical energy and 0.7 Mill. tonnes of CO2-emissions for 2020 production.
The PreMa pretreatment technology
The new solution developed under PreMa project consist in the implementation of a Mn ores pretreatment process using alternative and renewable energy sources such as CO-rich off gas, solar-thermal energy and bio-carbon. In today’s process the manganese ores are fed directly to the submerged arc furnace at ambient temperature.
With PreMa technology, some of the energy intensive and/or CO2-emitting steps in the furnace process will be performed in the pretreatment unit, thus increasing the energy flexibility, reducing the energy consumption and decreasing CO2-emissions. Process steps to be performed in the pretreatment unit includes evaporation of moisture and preheating of materials to e.g. 600°C, where these two steps can account for 25% of the total energy consumption4.
Electric energy and coke are still required but in significantly smaller amounts. The reduction process in the furnace is the same in the traditional smelting process and in the smelting process using PreMa pre-treatment unit.
What we have tested and tried so far
We have investigated three sustainable energy sources for the pre-treatment unit: solar thermal energy, CO and CO2 gas and bio-carbon.
The thermo-solar technology is developed and tested as the energy source for pre-treatment unit at Stellenbosch University (SU), MINTEK and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The solar thermal energy use is being tested using two pilot facilities.
First solar thermal plant with thermal storage for continuous production of hot air at 800°C at DLR in Germany and second solar thermal plant for use of air at 800°C for Mn pre-heating at MINTEK in South Africa. For the purpose of additional lowering the equivalent of CO2-emission in Mn-alloys production with solar thermal energy, the economy of the innovative HelioPod technology use was tested and proved by Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where it was developed for solar thermal systems. This technology allows for easy assemble and disassemble of the setup, facilitating the redeployment of the solar thermal plant, reducing the financial and environmental costs of operation.
The use of CO and CO2-gases heated to about 1000°C for pretreatment of Mn-ores will be tested at ERAMET Ideas, and its effects on Mn-ores will be determined. For that purpose a pilot test installation of a custom shaft furnace connected to the CO generator system will be built.
Another tested source of energy for pretreatment of Mn ore is the biocarbon mixed with off-gas. Its influence on different mixtures of Mn ores properties is tested at SINTEF.
To choose the best technology for preheating three existing echnologies were evaluated at laboratory scale by Metso:Outotec: rotary kiln, fluidised bed and shaft furnace. Two technologies, rotary kiln and shaft furnace, were chosen for further testing . Eramet Ideas piloting tools allowed to scale up:
The challenge is still however how to effectively transfer the warm material from the pre-treatment unit to the SAF. We are dedicating a part of our investigations to this topic. MINTEK, Metso Outotec and ERAMET are working on that issue. At MINTEK the technology of heat transfer from hot air to Mn ore is being investigated. The pilot campaigns at ERAMET Ideas, only with the pre-treatment unit, allow to have first elements on the possible re-oxidation of the ore and on the cooling kinetics, but it is the pilot including rotary furnace with loading in the SAF at MINTEK which will allow to measure the technical difficulty and the limits of hot transfer.
As the developed technology must be robust and reliable, we use different kinds of Mn-ores and mixtures of those ores in our trials.
Compatibility with conventional process
The effect of the furnace operation on the materials are examined. Materials from the pilots are sent to the Norway Research Institute (SINTEF) and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and 11 pilot experiments is conducted. The experiments will test how these pretreated materials behave in the submerged arc furnace. A large experiment integrating pre-heating and manganese alloys production is to be conducted at MINTEK to test the integration of the developed technologies.
The design, engineering solutions and cost figures for the full-scale implementation of the pre-treatment module will be developed during the project, along with the business plan for its industrial implementation.
Project and Partners
PreMa Project - Energy efficient, primary production of manganese ferroalloys through the application of novel energy systems in the drying and pre-heating of furnace feed materials - is developed within the scope of Horizon 2020 EU funding programme for research and innovation. To achieve the project ambitious objectives, PreMa has a strong consortium. Many partners are industrial manganese alloy producers: ERAMET, FERROGLOBE and OFZ from Europe and TRANSALLOYS from South Africa. The engineering and equipment supply company is Metso:OUTOTEC in Finland and Germany. There are the DLR and the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf (HZDR) institutes from Germany, the Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas (IETU) from Poland, SINTEF and NTNU from Norway and MINTEK from South Africa.
The project has a budget of 12 million euros of which 10 million is the contribution of the EU. It started in 2018 and was planned for completion in 2022 but will be prolonged to 2023.
1 - World Steel Association
2 - International Manganese Institute (IMnI)
3 - Laplace Conceil: Impacts of energy market developments on the steel industry. 74th Session of the OECD Steel Committee, Paris, July 2013
4 - Tangstad, M., Ichihara, K., & Ringdalen, E. (2015). Pretreatment unit in ferromanganese production. Infacon XIV