Metals refining
Oct 17, 2022

Trends in Metals, leading the change with our innovations 1/4

Kim Fagerlund
Kim Fagerlund
Vice President, Technology and R&D, Metals
We know that there is a clear correlation between the global population growth and the immediate demand for minerals and metals. The metals processing industry is currently facing a significant challenge in terms of decarbonization and energy transformation. Alternative solutions and technologies for replacing carbon-based energy and fuel sources are needed. Kim Fagerlund, Vice President of Technology and R&D at Metso Outotec, tells us more about this.

Emissions reduction and energy transformation plays a key role in both our customers’ operations and in our innovation projects. In the Iron and Steel industry, the development seems to proceed fast as all the major companies, irrespective of their location, have already initiated development programs for replacing carbon intensive processing methods.

Green steel

Making green steel is an essential step towards decarbonization. We have recently re-launched our unique Metso Outotec CircoredTM technology, iron direct reduction method, which can fully utilize hydrogen replacing old carbon-based processing technology. This is a proven, cost-effective alternative to traditional steelmaking routes.

In the coming weeks we are launching the proprietary submerged electric smelting method (SAF) for Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), which is a new method producing low raw material consumption, high metal recovery and low CO₂ and dust emissions. In early 2023, we are bringing a new combined CircosmeltTM process to the market, where we will combine our state-of-art hydrogen-based reduction and smelting processes together. This will bring a new alternative processing technology to the market, which can treat low-grade iron ores with minimal carbon emissions.

Decarbonizing the pelletizing process

As the steel industry prepares itself for the transition to green steel, we have launched Metso Outotec NextGen PelletizingTM, our visionary concept for pellet plants. It enables customers to build the green, carbon-neutral and fully autonomous pelletizing plants of the future.

“The best part about NextGen Pelletizing is that it can be implemented fully or in parts, depending on the customer needs. And when the need arises, it can be easily upgraded also in the existing plants. Our experts will continue to evolve this vision with improved and innovative processes and tools,” says Matthias Gabriel, Director, Ferrous product group at Metso Outotec.

Incorporating digitalization

With digitalization we strive to improve the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of our equipment and services to reduce operational costs as well as our environmental footprint. We have identified five major digitalization focus points within metals processing. These focus points have dedicated levers to improve efficiency across the whole value chain:

1) Data analytics and simulation

2) Engineering twins and process twins

3) Virtual training simulators for successful commissioning

4) Intelligent instruments and advanced process control tools enhanced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML) to optimize production

5) Connected analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), enhanced by AI/ML for plant and equipment level for technical support and asset management

A look into the future

In addition to extremely strict emission control in the future, the current raw-material base is shifting towards a higher amount of impurities, which brings new challenges and changes into the existing metals and chemicals processing methods. These changes will influence not only the metals industry, but also the chemical production for fertilizers. There, too, we are looking for new innovative solutions.

At Metso Outotec, our innovation and R&D projects are highly focused on finding solutions that allow us to enable sustainable modern life, following the path guided by the global megatrends.

Automation & digitalization
Find out more about our Automation and Digitalization for Metals refining plants.
Metals refining