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Oxygen Injection Control Valves: Tackling A Burning Issue

Author / Editor: Zsolt Pekker / Dominik Stephan

"Oxygen fire" – a nightmare scenario for steel mills and foundries. Where extreme temperatures, oxygen and high pressure come together, materials that seem fire–proof such as metals can easily burn. Therefore, applications like molten metals call for highly specialised process components - also in terms of control valves...

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The iron ores are reduced in a blast furnace. The carbon-rich molten raw iron is converted into low-carbon steel in massive converter ladles
The iron ores are reduced in a blast furnace. The carbon-rich molten raw iron is converted into low-carbon steel in massive converter ladles
(Picture: Samson)

Technically speaking, oxygen itself does not burn, yet it plays a part in every combustion process, from the log fire warming our home to the fuel vapor combusted in the cylinder head to drive our cars. The wood as well as the fuel react with the oxygen gas and release energy. When speaking of an “oxygen fire”, which is wrong in itself, we refer to burning things that are usually considered incombustible, such as metals. However, the risk of fire increases the higher the pressure, temperature and oxygen concentration in the environment are.

Take a steel mill, for example: Here, pure oxygen at high pressure is blown into a melt that is hotter than 1000 °C. This means that the piping and valves used must be resistant to oxygen fires. Samson manufactures tailor-made valves that work safely and reliably under such severe operating conditions. Recently, SMS Siemag AG had to face exact this challenge when equipping several steel mills in India. The Solution: Valves from control valve specialist Samson Controls.

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India – The Steel Giant

Indian companies play an important role on the worldwide steel market: Arcelor Mittal, Jindal Steel, Tata Steel and Bhushan Steel figure among the top players in the industry. In 2011, India ranked fourth among the world’s biggest crude steel producers, which makes it an important market for SMS Siemag. The company with over 11,000 employees specializes in plant and mechanical engineering for the steel, aluminum and nonferrous metal industry. The range of services provided includes turnkey production plants as well as plant expansions and upgrading.

Oxygen Injection Systems for Indian Steel Industry

SMS Siemag received several orders from India in 2010 and 2011. For example, the Rourkela mill, which belongs to the state-run Steel Authority of India, as well as works operated by Bhushan Steel and Tata Steel were to be equipped with new converters. Converters are the massive ladles where molten raw iron, which is rich in carbon, is converted into low-carbon steel. The decisive step in this conversion is cleansing out impurities, such as carbon, silicon, manganese, sulfur and phosphorus, which are removed from the 1700-°C-hot molten raw iron by oxidation.

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