December 26, 2016
Kobe Steel, Ltd.
Kobe Steel, Ltd. announces that it has restarted the No. 3 Blast Furnace at Kakogawa Works in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan. Refurbishment of the blast furnace began in September 2016 and was recently completed. A furnace lighting ceremony was held on-site on December 23 to restart the blast furnace.
The No. 3 Blast Furnace had been in operation since April 1996, the second time it had been fired up. After 20 years and five months, the longest operating lifespan for a large blast furnace in Japan, the No. 3 Blast Furnace was shut down on September 24.
This refurbishment was different from previous blast furnace renovations at Kakogawa Works. As the outer steel shell of the blast furnace continues to be used, only a short time of 90 days was required for refurbishing the blast furnace. Among the large blast furnaces in Japan, this is the first time a blast furnace that reuses the outer steel shell has been refurbished in such a short period of time.
In fiscal 2017 (April 2017-March 2018), Kobe Steel plans to shut down the blast furnace and other upstream facilities at Kobe Works and consolidate them at Kakogawa Works. After consolidation, Kakogawa Works will be Kobe Steel’s only source of iron.
The renovation of the No. 3 Blast Furnace not only included the renewal of aging equipment. Kobe Steel also installed an AI (artificial intelligence) system that utilizes information from various sensors in the furnace. These improvements will enable Kobe Steel to achieve a high level of stable operation and fulfill its supply responsibility, which will increase in the future.
In this refurbishment work, the outer steel shell of the No. 3 Blast Furnace continues to be used, but as the carbon bricks lining the bottom of the furnace were damaged, they were completely replaced. In addition, by installing an AI operation support system and expanding the use of high cooling-efficiency copper staves (a cooling system), Kobe Steel is able to maintain stable operation of the blast furnace. At the same time, improvements were made to the raw material charging system.
Cost reductions can be achieved by further increasing the use of low-cost raw materials with Kobe Steel’s world-class production technology that applies a high ratio of pulverized coal in blast furnace operation.
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