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Breakthrough Flash Ironmaking Process Could Provide an Energy-Efficient and Environmentally Preferred Alternative to Traditional Blast Furnace Process

Berry Metal Company, in collaboration with AISI and the University of Utah, is lending its expertise to the development of a breakthrough flash ironmaking process aimed at establishing an energy-efficient and environmentally preferred alternative to the traditional blast furnace process.

The $8.9 million project has been selected by the Department of Energy as a part of its I n n o v a t i v e M a n u f a c t u r i n g I n i t i a t i v e. This collaborative research effort has seen strong support -- both from the government and within the steel industry -- due to its potential to cut down on energy use and environmental emissions, particularly carbon dioxide. (Early test results have shown that CO 2 reductions of up to 50% may be achieved, depending on the reductant.)

The novel process utilizes direct gaseous reduction of fine iron concentrates in order to make iron and is being powered by natural gas. The groundbreaking mechanics, coupled with the use of natural gas, enable significant improvements in energy efficiency and emissions. "This is a great example of properly utilizing natural resources," says Lou Valentas, Director of Technology and Applications at Berry Metal Company. "We have an abundance of natural gas, and this technology provides the ability to take advantage of natural gas finds such as Marcellus Shale in the near term, and hydrogen in the longer term."

Berry Metal Company's role in the project thus far -- and in the future -- will be bringing the technology to life through the design and manufacture of the equipment, enabling practical application. Most recently, Berry Metal Company's technical and manufacturing specialists have devised the solution to advance the project from small-scale laboratory experiment to its current state, a much larger-scale pre-pilot reactor that is set to begin testing during the next two years.

Engineering and designing the reactor enables Berry Metal Company to continue to advance their mission of supporting technology that moves the iron and steel industry forward. "We're committed to new breakthrough technology because it's vital to our industry," says George Koenig, President, Berry Metal Company. "A big reason we push for it is because of energy and environmental benefits. These are major priorities for us and our customers, and exploring new technology is going to help us reach our goals."

Berry Metal Company, along with its partners in the project, are eager about the long-term potential of this technology. And after testing at the large-lab scale is complete, the research will continue with the goal of using hydrogen to further reduce emissions, energy and cost. "It's still the early stages," notes Mr. Koenig, "but we're very proud to be a part of a project that does nothing but good things for our partners, the industry and the community."

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