Development and Provision of Eco-friendly Processes and Products
Ferro coke, an innovative raw material for blast furnaces, is made by mixing low-grade coke and iron ore. The ultra-fine metallic iron inside ferro coke acts as a catalyst and accelerates the reduction reaction rate in the blast furnace, significantly reducing the amount of coke required.
Since FY2017, JFE Steel has been conducting the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)’s project, “the development of environmental technology for steelmaking process / technological development of iron making process utilizing ferro coke.”
As part of the project, a medium-scale facility with the capacity to produce 300 tonnes of ferro coke per day is currently being constructed in the Fukuyama district of the JFE Steel West Japan Works, covering 12,600 square meters. The facility is designed to handle all steps involved in the production of ferro coke, from crushing and drying to molding and dry distillation. It is also capable of recycling ferro tar, a byproduct of ferro coke production, as a binding agent for briquetting.
Facility construction is scheduled for completion in September 2020. It will begin operations in October and demonstrate the effect of using ferro coke in blast furnaces over a long period. We expect to reduce energy consumption in the iron making process by 10% by 2023 and in turn achieve a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.
Process Flow of the Medium-scale Ferro Coke Production Facility
Medium-scale Ferro Coke Production Facility
・Cross section of ferro coke
Introducing Data Science Technology at All Steelworks Blast Furnaces
JFE Steel is introducing advanced data science technology (DS) at our blast furnaces.
To reduce CO2 emissions from our steelworks, it is extremely important that blast furnaces, which remove oxygen in iron ore for the production of iron, operate stably and at high efficiency. However, attaining this level of operation is challenging because it is not possible to directly view the inside of the furnace and because operating conditions can change moment by moment depending on the raw materials used.
Consequently, JFE Steel is now deploying data science technology to convert its eight blast furnaces in Japan to cyber-physical systems (CPS) managed with computer-based algorithms. The conversion applies artificial intelligence to analyze sensor data collected from the physical manufacturing process and then creates a virtual (cyber) process in digital space using proprietary techniques, after which the two processes are linked in real time. The virtual process enables the visualization of the blast furnace’s internal state to predict future conditions, allowing the blast furnace to operate stably, which in turn reduces CO2 emissions.
In the longer term, JFE Steel intends to extend CPS conversion to other processes to realize innovative productivity and greater stability across all steel manufacturing operations.
Blast Furnace CPS Concept
Introducing a Guidance System to Manage Fuels and Electricity Consumptions in Steelworks
-Optimization of Consumption Based on Cyber-physical Systems
JFE Steel developed what it calls the Guidance System for operators to efficiently utilize fuels and electricity in domestic steelworks to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. So far, the system has been rolled out in the Kurashiki and Fukuyama districts in the JFE Steel West Japan Works and will be rolled out in other sites to increase the overall benefits in reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
In steelworks, gases, electricity and steam that are generated as byproducts by upstream processes are consumed within the same premises. We also purchase fuel and electricity from external sources to meet actual demands. To efficiently utilize fuel and electricity, many different factors need to be managed to minimize cost and energy losses, including the ratio of byproduct gases to be distributed to each process, the amount of electricity and fuel to be purchased, and the storage volume of byproduct gases.
The Guidance System (1) uses the vast amount of real-time data obtained based on CPS and each factory’s detail manufacturing plan, (2) calculates precise future demands, (3) considers operational and contractual limitations, (4) runs simulations to determine the optimal operational plan for minimizing external purchases and (5) guides operators toward this optimal plan.
Steelwork’s Energy Flow
Guidance System Overview
Technology Development for Realizing Zero-Carbon Steel
JFE Steel Corporation, together with Nippon Steel Corporation, Kobe Steel, Ltd. and Japan Research and Development Center for Metals Foundation applied to NEDO’s public project “technology development for realizing zero-carbon steel” and were selected as the participating members as of June 11.
Based on the knowledge gained from a previous project, “the development of environmental technology for steelmaking process / development of hydrogen reduction and other technologies (phase II - step 1)” (COURSE50), we will conduct research over the project duration of FY2020–2021, which will involve assessing current challenges and creating a research and development roadmap for the research and development toward zero-carbon steel. These activities can serve as the foundation for future research and development and help to accelerate them. JFE Steel will be involved in holistically assessing various technologies, including the latest blast furnace technology and hydrogen reduction technology.
Conserving Energy by Reducing Energy Loss from Molten Steel Vessels
The vessels used in steelmaking to carry hot metal and molten steel are made of iron with inner walls covered in refractories. However, because the surface temperature of these vessels can exceed 300 degrees Celsius across such a large surface area, the vessel loses a significant amount to heat. To overcome this, we have developed a new technology that uses high-quality insulation material to lower the surface temperature and prevent radiation heat transfer.
After optimizing the insulation material layout, we conducted tests using production vessels over a long period and confirmed that the heat loss from the vessel surface was reduced to 55–75% of conventional vessels. Applying the technology to all of our molten metal vessels could achieve energy savings (in crude oil equivalent) of 21,000 kl annually, which equates to the annual consumption of 26,000 per the average household*.
The energy saving quality of this technology is highly regarded, and it received the ECCJ Chairman’s Award (The Energy Conservation Center, Japan Chairman's Award) in Energy Conservation Grand Prize 2019’s Best Practice Category.
* Calculated using a 31.3 GJ/household, the actual energy supply-demand data for FY2018 provided by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
Insulating Effect of High-quality Insulation Material
Anode Material for All-polymer Battery, a Next-generation Lithium-ion Battery (JFE Chemical Corporation)
Electric vehicles and renewable energy are key pillars for realizing a decarbonized society in the future, and the further advance of these technologies will depend on the development of high-quality lithium-ion batteries. The all-polymer battery is a next-generation lithium-ion battery. It realizes greater safety, durability and energy density and will significantly reduce production costs and ensure high reliability under abuse. This innovative battery overcomes the shortcomings of conventional lithium-ion batteries and is expected to stabilize the use of solar power generation and other renewable energies while accelerating the pace of transition toward a decarbonized society. APB Corporation is a start-up company engaged in the development, manufacturing and sales of all-polymer batteries.
JFE Chemical, JFE Group’s driving force in its chemical businesses, has been involved in mass-producing and selling anode materials for lithium-ion batteries using pitch derived from coal-tar, a steel manufacturing byproduct. Recently, the company invested in the above mentioned APB Corporation and agreed to supply them with hard carbon, a critical anode material for all-polymer batteries.
Using the technologies and know-how that it has accumulated over the years, JFE Chemical will work with APB Corporation and contribute to the mass-production of all-polymer batteries through the production and supply of hard carbon, which features low expansion and shrinkage and is suitable for the anode material of all-polymer batteries.
Structure of All-polymer Battery (Single Cell)
Steel Slag Hydrated Matrix
Steel slag hydrated matrix is a steel slag product that can be used as a substitute for concrete but uses ground granulated blast furnace slag instead of cement and steel slag instead of natural gravel and sand aggregate as its ingredients. It effectively uses steel slag and does not rely on natural aggregate, thereby reducing environmental impact, uses less cement and in turn reduces CO2 emissions.
There are many examples of blocks and artificial stones made from steel slag hydrated matrix being used as a substitute for concrete blocks and natural stones in harbor works, including the runway D construction project at Haneda Airport by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and the coastal reconstruction project after the Great East Japan Earthquake. In addition, we are conducting onsite monitoring in the Katsunan Central Zone in Chiba port with the help of a local fishing association to assess the impact of these blocks on marine diversity.
Breakwater armor block
Coastal construction work using artificial stones made from steel slag hydrated matrix
Use of Granulated Blast Furnace Slag to Reduce CO2 Emission
Granulated blast furnace slag in crushed and powdered form can be mixed with cement and used as a substitute for cement for making concrete. This leads to reducing the production of cement hence lower CO2 emissions. For example, producing one tonne of blast furnace slag cement with 45% of its content substituted with granulated blast furnace slag emits 41% less CO2 than conventional cement. In FY2019, JFE Steel supplied approximately 6.8 million tonnes of granulated blast furnace slag to cement production, equivalent to a reduction of approximately 4.83 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
In addition, we are focusing on blue carbon (carbon removed from the atmosphere by ocean ecosystems), which has been a field of active research in recent years. We are involved in creating seagrass beds using steel slag products, measuring the amount of carbon absorbed and fixed by the seagrass beds and testing steel slag products as beds for seaweeds and corals.
CO2 Emission for Producing 1 Tonne of Cement (Unit: kg-CO2)
|CO2 Emissions Source||Regular Cement||Blast Furnace Slag Cement|
Coral attached to Marine Block™
Precast Concrete Products Mixed with Finely Ground Blast Furnace Slag
Finely ground blast furnace slag can be used as a cementing material in concrete. This type of concrete exhibits significantly higher durability under harsh conditions such as applications in seweres and exposure to anti-freeze. Its effectiveness in reducing enviromental impact has been widely understood, although there has recently been growing interest in its practical applications for concrete constructions that require higher durability.
As one of the deliverables for the Japanese government's Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP), the Japan Society of Civil Engineers published a (draft) guideline in March 2019 on the application of finely ground blast furnace slag to precast concrete product and its application now includes precast concrete slabs installed in highways and piers. With the application of finely ground blast furnace slag in concrete, the durability of precast products is expected to be greater and more consistent, allowing them to contribute to building a stronger nation.
Precast concrete products for extending road width
Restoring Marine Ecosystems Using Steel Slag Products
Marine Stone™, a gravel-type steel slag product, is a habitat forming material that suppresses hydrogen sulfide, which arises from an unhealthy seabed and improves water and sediment quality in enclosed coastal waters. Its effectiveness in improving marine environments has been widely recognized, and the joint project with Hiroshima University received the Minister’s Prize (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) in the 12th Eco Products Awards and the Grand Prize in the 26th Nikkei Global Environmental Technology Award.
Hiroshima Prefecture has used a total of 38,000 tonnes of Marine Stone™ in its Fukuyama Port Marine Environment Creation Project (inner harbor area). Its marine environment improvement property was confirmed to still be effective in 2019, four years after its initial placement.
Inner harbor area of Fukuyama Port, Hiroshima Prefecture, at low tide, where Marine Stone™ is laid out. The entire area is covered by seaweed and the marine ecosystems restored!
Contributing to the Creation of an Attractive Seaside Town by Utilizing Steel Slag Products (Partnership Agreement with Yokohama City)
In a joint research project with Yokohama City, JFE Steel has confirmed that steel slag products, including Marine Block™, which is steel slag absorbing CO2 gas, provide a highly effective base for nurturing and growing sea organisms while also facilitating the natural cleansing of seabeds and seawater. To continue improving the marine environment in Yokohama Bay and developing an attractive seaside town, we signed a new partnership agreement* with Yokohama City in March 2020. Under this new agreement, we will continue to work toward improving the marine environment.
* Partnership agreement to improve the marine environment in Yokohama Bay and develop an attractive seaside town
Marine Block™ covered by marine bivalves (Yokohama Bay area)
JFE-METS (Multisite Energy Total Service) Receives the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award in Energy Conservation Grand Prize 2019
Typically, energy optimization is considered and addressed at a site level. JFE-METS is a new energy optimization service that offers energy optimization across multiple sites, for example, for an entire company or region. It offers a holistic energy conservation solution by analyzing what the customer’s energy consumption currently looks like, installing and operating the most appropriate energy facilities that work across all their sites on their behalf and managing overall energy demand, including offsite locations.
Example of JFE-METS
Commercialization of the New Sewage Sludge Treatment Technology OdySSEA
—an Innovative Technology Satisfying Both a Large Reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and High-efficiency Power Generation
In a joint project with the Japan Sewage Works Agency (president: Toshihiro Tsujihara, head office: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo) and Kawasaki City extending over the two-year period of FY2017-2018, JFE Engineering carried out demonstration research combining a high-efficiency power generation technology that utilizes unused waste heat from a sewage sludge incineration facility and a technology that simultaneously reduces nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by optimizing the air injection method. The demonstration research was also selected in the B-DASH Project*1 of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
In this demonstration research, JFE Engineering verified that high-efficiency power generation is possible even in small-scale incinerators with a capacity on the order of 60 wet-t/d by introducing a newly developed condensing-type steam turbine and a system that utilizes treated sewage water for cooling. This confirmed that the OdySSEA technology realizes so-called complete electric energy self-sufficiency, in which the amount of generated power exceeds the power consumption of the facility.*2
This research also confirmed that NOx generation can be suppressed while simultaneously promoting decomposition of N2O by efficiently burning sewage by concentrated spot stirring injection of air into the furnace from the optimum position and stirring the air in the furnace. While compact in size, OdySSEA realizes high performance, achieving reductions of more than 50 % in both N2O and NOx.
*1 B-DASH is an abbreviation for the “Breakthrough by Dynamic Approach in Sewage High Technology Project” of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
*2 Under conditions of an incineration rate of 140 wet-t/d and 73% water content.
Realization of Fully Automatic Operation of Waste Incinerator
by New System Incorporating Operators' Know-how
In waste treatment facilities, the stable operation of the incinerator is performed by an automatic combustion control system (ACC). However, because waste incinerators handle wastes of different sizes, shapes and materials, operation must be monitored by the operators from the central control room of the facility or from JFE Engineering’s Global Remote Center*, with manual interventions as necessary.
JFE Engineering has been working on advancing its ACC technology and on developing a system that automates the manual intervention operations, which are conventionally performed by operators. In October 2018, a new system that fully automated incinerator operation was rolled out in the Niigata City Shinden Clean Center and began its demonstration run.
The system successfully ran without requiring any manual interventions by the operators and maintained a combustion state more stable than a conventional system for more than two weeks. The stability of steam generated by the boiler also improved, leading to an increase in the amount of electricity generated. In the future, we will continue to run and monitor the incinerator operation using this system to verify its long-term stability and at the same time work on commercializing the system and installing it in waste treatment facilities delivered by JFE Engineering and to newly constructed plants.
JFE Engineering will continue to work on these advanced initiatives toward achieving total plant automation. As a company that creates and supports the foundations for life, we will make full use of our abundant knowledge and leading-edge technologies to contribute to the formation of a recycling society and preservation of the global environment.
* Global Remote Center (GRC): A centralized monitoring center for various types of plants, which began operation at the JFE Engineering Yokohama head office in March 2018. GRC performs remote monitoring and operation support for object plants throughout Japan through a 24-hour system.
Conventional operation (manual interventions by operators)
Operation using the new system (fully automated)
Example tool of the newly developed system (screens that visualize the AI analysis performed on flame images)
The distribution area of controlled combustion temperature is more than 20% smaller →
combustion is more stable and generation is also more stable
Construction of a New Recycled PET Resin Manufacturing Factory to Realize Bottle-to-Bottle Recycling
In response to the marine pollution caused by plastic wastes, beverage manufactures have declared their intention*1 to shift completely from using petroleum-based PET bottles to PET bottles made from recycled PET resin*2 by FY2030. Following this trend, Kyoei Industry Co., Ltd., which was the first in Japan to establish the bottle-to-bottle*3 mechanical recycling system*4, and J&T Recycling Corporation, which has been supplying ingredient materials to the company for many years, have set up a new joint venture company in an effort to realize the system and build a new recycled PET resin manufacturing factory, the largest of its kind in Japan. The factory is to become the first recycling base for the JFE Engineering Group and Kyoei Industry Group in the Chubu/Kansai region.
*1 Declaration of Plastic Resources Recycling by the Soft Drinks Industry in November 2018
*2 Recycled PET resin is the raw material recovered from recycled PET bottles. The PET bottles are crushed, washed and dried to form flakes, which are then melted to even out quality and shaped into granular forms called pellets; resins are manufactured by extracting moisture from these pellets.
*3 The creation of a new PET bottle from recycled bottles
*4 Recovered resin obtained through material recycled (returning used products to material status via pulverization, cleansing and other processing) is processed for a regulated period under a high temperature and low pressure to remove impurities from the regenerated materials.
Resource Recycling Businesses of JFE Engineering
For more on the resource recycling businesses, please refer to the following information.JFE Engineering’s Website: Recycling
Promotion of Renewable Energy
JFE Engineering has established an array of electrical power generation plants that use renewable sources such as waste, biomass, solar and geothermal and has been commissioned to manage their operations. In response to the increasing number of corporations becoming more environmentally aware in recent years, its subsidiary, Urban Energy Corporation, introduced the special electricity tariff Zero Emission Plan in July 2018 for corporations and organizations, which supplies them with 100% renewable energy. JFE Engineering will continue its electricity retail business using its renewable energy sources through Urban Energy Corporation and contribute to renewable energy dissemination.
For more on this, please refer to the following information.Urban Energy Corporation’ Website: Electricity Retail Business (Japanese only)
Regional Electricity Retail Businesses in Partnership with the Local Municipal Governments
JFE Engineering has established several regional electricity retail companies in partnership with local municipal governments. It is actively involved in the regional electricity business, with a particular focus on the distribution of renewable energy.
It sources its electricity from waste-fueled and other renewable-energy power generation plants that it has built and distributes the electricity to local areas and public facilities, thus promoting local production and consumption of electricity. Through these regional electricity businesses, JFE Engineering intends to promote renewable energy, reduce electricity cost for public facilities, and expand the region’s industrial infrastructure.
For more on this, please refer to the following information.Urban Energy Corporation’s Website: Regional Electricity Supply Business (Japanese only)
Waste Incinerator that Uses a Counter Current Combustion Method
Massive demand for waste incinerators has recently emerged to cope with such concerns as reducing environmental impact, improving the efficiency of electricity generation, and lowering operational costs.
JFE Engineering became the first in the world to adopt the counter current combustion method, developed by deriving from high temperature air combustion technology, for waste incinerators, and it successfully reduced NOx concentration in exhaust gas by 20% to 30%, compared to the conventional method, while maintaining the same carbon monoxide (CO) concentration level. This eliminates the need for equipment to reduce the NOx concentration in exhaust gas and makes possible a more compact facility requiring less maintenance. In addition, the steam that had previously been consumed by denitration equipment can now be fed to turbines to generate electricity.
For more on this, please refer to the following information.JFE Engineering’s website: Won the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Prize in the 44th Excellent Environmental Instrument Award (Japanese only)
Building a Global Supply Chain for the Steel Sheets Business
The key factor in initiatives for countering climate change, including those aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, is minimizing electricity loss and using generated electricity without loss.
Motors found in places such as power plants, factories and homes are responsible for 40–50% of all electricity consumed globally. In Japan, the ratio is approximately 60%. Improving the efficiency of motors by 1% in Japan that would contribute to the equivalent of a 500,000 kw-class power generation plant in energy savings.
Technological advances are expected in electrical vehicle’s engine motors, for which demand is expected to rise as we transition to a decarbonized society as well as in the various types of motors used inside cars, which could be as many as 50 to 100 motors per car. We expect improvements in efficiency, smaller size and lighter weight.
In addition, in order to minimize energy loss while distributing electricity from source to factories and homes, continuous improvement, not just at JFE, is required in transformers, where the most loss of electricity occurs, to make them more efficient.
JFE Steel’s electrical steel sheets significantly contribute to improving the efficiency of manufacturing motors and transformers. In addition to supplying these high-quality products to customers, JFE Shoji has the necessary infrastructure to ensure the stable supply of processed products tailored to each customer’s requirements.
Customers who require high-quality electrical steel sheets, such as motor manufacturers and transformer manufacturers, typically operate manufacturing facilities across the globe. We are aligning ourselves to this trend and establishing a global quad-polar organization that includes Japan, America, China and ASEAN. This enables us to respond to the specific needs of customers, which in turn will contribute to tackling climate change.
In response to growing demand for biomass fuels by biomass power generation companies, JFE Shoji imports palm kernel shells to Japan from Malaysia and Indonesia.
In addition, as the trend toward reducing CO2 emissions accelerates, demand for renewable energy is rising, especially for biomass power generation which is not affected by weather conditions. We will respond to this demand by exploring other types of biomass fuels, such as wood pellets, to ensure a stable supply of biomass fuels.
Wood pellets are a biomass fuel that allows for the effective reuse of wood materials from thinning and pruning forests or waste materials from woodworking operations.
We will continue to supply fuel to biomass power generation companies, including JFE Engineering, and do our part in the JFE Group’s overall contribution toward realizing an eco-friendly society.
Shipping Bases for Palm Kernel Shells
Expansion of Scrap Trading Helps in the Development of a Recycling Society
JFE Shoji’s recycling business for steel and aluminum scrap includes the export of steel scrap to Asian countries, where it is sold for both offshore and domestic trading. Although steel scrap exported from Japan is mainly transported by bulk carriers in general, timely shipments of small lots is now also possible due to the container loading system introduced by JFE Shoji, contributing to the development of recycling societies in Asia.