Ternium Mexico 4M DR plant: A landmark of innovation in the ironmaking industry celebrated its 20th year of operation in 2018.
Ternium’s 4M Direct Reduction Plant, built on a brown field, was conceptualized as a bold innovation statement in the steelmaking world. This project marked a number of “firsts” in the industry – first Zero Reformer industrial scale facility, first Pneumatic Transport System at industrial scale, first EAF to use a continuous feed of Hot DRI, first EAF to use Hot DRI with High-carbon content – among others, that were taken up as challenges and opportunities by a tireless team of Mexican entrepreneurs and engineers.
20 years of success
At a time when the natural gas prices in México reached values as high as 12 USD/ mmBTU and the scrap market had its normal fluctuations, it became essential to attain the ability to produce quality steel products in an efficient way. The assembly of a mini-mill (DRI-EAF) looked like a way forward, because not only would the efficiency of the Zero reformer process come in handy to reach the objective, but also the possibility of feeding hot DRI directly to an EAF followed by an in-line processing and finishing of the steel loomed large as an opportunity for a steelmaker to improve efficiency on their production line. Now, add to that the fact that in this case the iron ore came from a concession of a mine located in southwest México.
Also by that year, the use of continuous casting and the trends in thin-slab, thin-strip and near net-shape casting had allowed steel mills to enter into new and more demanding steel products segments. So, having a source of pure iron units free of tramp elements and impurities sounded like a smart investment.
20 years later, we can conclude it was, as the integrated mini-mill model has become one of the most efficient steel production routes, and the EAF continues to increase its share of the world crude steel production. Also the benefits of operating an EAF using high amounts of hot DRI (80-90%) with a carbon content of 3.5 – 4.5 %, combined with scrap have been demonstrated, setting a benchmark worldwide and helping the development of this type of projects.
Another very important aspect of the technological evolution of the 4M DR Plant is its environmentally friendly design. This plant has two CO2 removal units, one of which ( the chemical absorption unit) allows the commercialization of the CO2 generated as by-product in the reduction process. As Tenova HYL continues to work on the Next Big Thing, the 4M DRI-based mini-mill continues to be the benchmark for the steelmaking world.
The article is an extract of HYL December 2018 newsletter. To access the full item, please click here.