Electrical Conditions in Submerged Arc Furnaces – Identification and Improvement (SAFECI)

Design and operation of smelting furnaces have been gradually improved through industrial experience, research, modern process control, new and/or improved measurements, etc. Nevertheless, due to all complexities in the processes, several process variations are not properly under­stood. The furnace centre is hot, above 2000 °C for some processes, and reliable measure­ments of the inner conditions are extremely difficult.

The processes are energy intensive. The power is normally supplied by high, three-phase, electric currents, often more than 100 000 A. The current paths depend on electrical resistivity of the raw materials, partly reacted materials, and the metal that has been produced. Hence, there is a strong interaction between electrical current paths, temperature distribution, and chemical reactions.

During a previous competence project, "Electrical Conditions and their Process Interactions in High Temperature Metallurgical Reactors (ElMet)", valuable new insight has been provided. The present project aims at establishing methods to reliably identify the inner electrical states (current paths, etc.). The project will apply various mathematical modelling, combined with suitable measurements. Based on the ElMet-project, we know that new/improved models are required, and new measurements are needed in addition to existing operational data.

If successful, the project will establish new tools to identify, and hence control, the electrical conditions within Submerged Arc Furnaces (SAFs). Improved electrical conditions lead directly to more stabilized operation, more suitable energy distribution and enhanced furnace efficiency (lower kWh/kg product), with corresponding energy savings.

We propose an interdisciplinary project where we combine physics and data-driven modelling with sound metallurgical knowledge/know-how, and examine existing measurements and promising novel ones.