SPIE is boosting energy savings in the steel industry through its EMPERE solution

Published on 24 June 2021

Cergy, 24 June 2021 – The Industrie division of SPIE Industrie & Tertiaire, a French subsidiary of the SPIE group, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, is developing its EMPERE solution to reduce the energy consumption of electric arc furnaces, used to recycle scrap metal in the steel and metal industry.

A solution at the heart of energy efficiency

Electric furnaces allow steel to be made from scrap metal from various sources, such as the recycling of cars or scrap metal from buildings.

The energy consumption of a furnace accounts for 40% of the cost of steelmaking. The power of modern furnaces ranges from 500 kW/t to 1 MW/t (except for speciality steels) and a steelmaker can make up to 7,000 castings per year. Energy management throughout the process is therefore one of the main challenges for the steelmaking industry.

Based on this observation, the French steel industry’s research centre approached SPIE more than 30 years ago to develop a product for regulating arc furnaces in order to reduce their energy consumption.

In this context, SPIE has developed a regulation system, named EMPERE, to meet three major challenges:

· reducing energy consumption,
· reducing the consumption of materials such as electrodes and firebricks,
· improving arc furnace productivity.

To increase the availability of furnaces, it is necessary to ensure faster melting while using as little power as possible. This management system allows for a reduction of around 1,800 tonnes of CO2 per furnace per year, the equivalent of 900 cars travelling 20,000 km each”, explains Martial Martig, Manager of the Industrie division responsible for this expertise.

An internationally recognised tailor-made service

From the preliminary study phase through to commissioning and maintenance, SPIE supports steelmakers throughout the entire useful life of the equipment. In order to help them achieve their objectives, the teams commit to a ROI[1] and, more specifically, to:

· a reduction in energy consumption (of around 10 to 30 kWh per tonne of steel),
· an increase in active power (decrease in reactive losses),
· reduced electrode wear (of around 0.1 to 0.3 kg per tonne of steel),
· a reduction in melting time of between 3% and 10%.

Technical support is available 24/7 and connects remotely and in real time to the installations for troubleshooting or to improve system performance. Thermal assessments are regularly carried out to take stock of the energy consumed and identify areas for improvement.

All of the division’s experts work in collaboration with industry stakeholders to adapt the EMPERE solution to their needs. It is regularly the subject of research studies and theses in order to remain at the cutting edge of technology. The aim is to improve the system, whether in terms of performance, ergonomics or sustainability. “This relationship of trust contributes to the success of the solution, which is now the European market leader, and enables SPIE to be a first-rate partner for the 300 arc furnaces equipped with it throughout the world”, says Christophe Dormois, Director of Development and Strategy for the Industrie division of SPIE Industrie & Tertiaire.

SPIE is developing the system to adapt it to other types of industry, such as the glass or ferromanganese industry, and incorporating new technologies to optimise the data generated in the system

[1]Return on investment