Union Steel Minister Ram Chandra Prasad Singh met with senior officials from the Steel Ministry and Anshuman Tripathi, Member, National Security Advisory Board and Director Steel Research & Technology Mission of India (SRTMI) to explore the possibility of utilising the use of plastic waste in iron and steel manufacturing in the country.
Most of the countries in the world are exploring alternatives for efficient use of plastic waste and some countries are using this waste in the steel industry. The suitability and advantages and disadvantages of using plastic waste in areas such as coke ovens, blast furnaces and electric arc furnaces were discussed.
The quantum of use of plastic waste currently prevalent by the steel industry, pre-treatment process, including its segregation, techno-economics and emissions and impact on its use in steel making processes etc., were also discussed.
The steel minister directed Secretary (Steel) Sanjay Kumar Singh to hold talks with the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in this regard. The steel minister also directed that an action plan be prepared by SRTMI within a month for the use of plastic waste by the steel sector.
Why use Use Plastic Waste in Iron and Steel manufacturing?
Around 400 million tonnes of plastics are produced every year around the world. End-of-life plastic waste contaminates waterways, groundwater and limits landfill areas. Plastic waste recycling options include raw material recycling, mechanical/materials recycling, industrial energy recovery, municipal solid waste incineration.
The burning of e-waste plastics releases harmful odours, gases, dioxins, hydrogen bromide, polybrominated diphenyl ethers and other hydrocarbons.
Of the 7% of carbon dioxide emissions attributable to the steel industry worldwide, using waste plastics compared to other carbon sources, in addition to energy-saving energy, reduces approximately 30% of its carbon footprint. Plastic has a higher H2 content than coal. The hydrogen released from plastic acts as a reductant with carbon monoxide. The reduction of hydrogen of iron ore in the presence of plastic increases the reaction rate due to the higher diffusion of hydrogen as compared to carbon monoxide, according to a study published by the KeAi in 2019.
Replacing plastics reduces process temperatures by at least 100–200 °C due to reducing gases (hydrogen) thereby improving the energy efficiency of the process. Similarly, plastics significantly reduce emissions from other carbon-intensive processes such as magnesia production while still contributing energy.