Metal manufacturing energy efficiency

Metal manufacturing furnace efficiency

Guide

If you use furnaces in your metal production business, you could save money by running them more efficiently.

You should check if you need any permits or licences for your furnace, to avoid causing pollution.

Use your furnaces efficiently

You could:

  • use more environmentally-friendly furnace fuel - eg waste-derived fuels that have been fully recovered to a non-waste status
  • make sure to use the most efficient furnace for your process - eg an electric induction furnace emits one tenth of the particulate emissions of a cupola furnace
  • follow start-up procedures as recommended by the furnace manufacturer
  • allow sufficient time when lighting up your furnace from cold - this will enable your furnace to run more efficiently and avoid unnecessary emissions and fuel use
  • service your extraction systems regularly and repair defects or damage promptly to minimise your emissions
  • put materials into batches and use programmed heating controls in order to improve energy efficiency

Use the correct furnace charge material

You could:

  • pelletise fine feed materials before you introduce them to smelting or melting furnaces to reduce dust emissions
  • only melt material which is compatible with your furnace - this will improve its efficiency
  • maximise the metallic content of the charge material - this will minimise the amount of solid waste material produced and reduce energy use
  • only melt clean scrap in your furnace, unless you have registered an exemption with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency that allows you to use contaminated scrap

Use energy and waste materials from your furnaces

Recover materials and heat from your furnaces. For example:

  • You may be able to recover metals and salts from some slags. This will reduce the amount of waste you produce.
  • Reduce fuel use by recovering waste heat to use in other parts of your operation.
  • Use recuperative or regenerative burners to recover heat from exhaust gases.
  • You may be able to use steel slag as a secondary aggregate, eg roadstone, if the metal content is not too high. However, steel slag is considered waste, so you must comply with the appropriate waste regulations, eg you will need to transport it using a waste carrier and with a waste transfer note.

For information on using slag, contact the relevant trade association: