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6. Responsible energy user that helps create a lower carbon future

Steelmaking is an energy-intensive industry. Energy consumption has a negative impact on the environment, and as a result, our goal is to decrease this impact by monitoring and minimizing our annual energy consumption. We continually work to identify and implement ongoing, innovative solutions to increase the sustainability of our operations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment, all while saving costs. 

Why is this important to us?

Energy efficiency results in the reduction of air emissions as well as our operating costs. Both of these issues are central to our company’s long-term sustainability. As a result, we have made energy efficiency a priority throughout our U.S. operations to ensure that we are responsible energy consumers.   

The commercial imperative

What kind of challenges do we face?

We are a major consumer of energy, and exposure to a sometimes volatile energy market has a huge impact on the financial sustainability of our company.  Factors ranging from aging infrastructure to extreme weather patterns can have a dramatic impact upon energy prices.   

What do we need to do?

To address energy challenges, we need to promote efficiency through projects that improve our sustainability. This includes investing in energy-saving technology and utilizing more environmentally friendly energy sources when possible. In addition, we strive to become a more self-sufficient energy user by working to increase our capacity for self-generated energy.  

What is the potential to create value?

Our energy efficiency initiatives have already resulted in massive decreases in our environmental impact and costs. In 2016, we invested $22 million in energy projects that saved $26 million in energy costs and will continue to provide annual savings. Through partnerships such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, we are working with our stakeholders to further minimize our energy use. 

2016 Highlights


In 2016, ArcelorMittal attained a 2.07 percent energy reduction over the 2013 baseline in the U.S. 

We reduced energy intensity by 4 percent over the last 3 years and exceeded our annual reduction goal as part of our 10-year commitment.

 

 

ArcelorMittal continues to serve as ENERGY STAR® and U.S. DOE partner.

Case studies: Energy management

A bold partnership to reduce our carbon footprint
One of the ways we are working toward our energy reduction goals is by forging bold partnerships, exemplified by our work with LanzaTech.

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Making steel is an energy-intensive enterprise. About 15 percent of our cost to transform raw materials into finished steel products is directly related to energy. We run our business more efficiently and reduce our impact on the environment when we reduce energy consumption. One of the ways we are working toward our energy reduction goals is by forging bold partnerships, exemplified by our work with LanzaTech.

Together with LanzaTech, a carbon recycling company, we are working on an exciting project to convert waste gases from the steelmaking process to produce ethanol on a commercial basis.

Construction of the €87 million flagship pilot project at our steelmaking site in Ghent, Belgium, is taking place in two construction phases with a completion date in 2018. 

Approximately 50% of the carbon used in the chemistry of steelmaking leaves the process as carbon monoxide. Today, this waste gas stream is either flared or used to heat and power the steel mill.

In either case, the carbon monoxide is combusted and the resulting CO2 is emitted. LanzaTech’s technology, however, recycles the waste gases and ferments them with a proprietary microbe to produce bioethanol.

Ethanol generates 84% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, and the plant will produce enough every year to run half a million cars. Every ton of ethanol produced will reduce overall CO2 emissions by 2.5 tons and displace eight barrels of gasoline. This breakthrough recently earned LanzaTech the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award in 2015, the top award of its kind in the country, and a Circular Economy Award at the World Environmental Forum in 2016.

Carl De Maré, vice president of emerging technologies at ArcelorMittal, said, “This partnership is an example of how we are looking at all potential opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions and support a transition to a lower carbon economy. Steel is produced through a chemical process that results in high levels of waste gases being emitted; this new technology will enable us to convert some of these waste gases into fuels that deliver significant environmental benefits when compared to conventional fossil fuels. It is an example of why our carbon footprint should be viewed on a life cycle analysis basis, given steel is 100% recyclable and the material impact we make on reducing the carbon footprint of our customers through product innovation.”

Not only will CO2 emissions created as part of the steelmaking be reduced by two percent but, more significantly, when the ethanol created is used as an alternative to conventional gasoline to fuel aircrafts and cars, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by upwards of 80 percent.

LanzaTech’s headquarters is in Skokie, Illinois, not too far from our steelmaking facilities in Northwest Indiana. This facility houses both the main corporate offices, as well as extensive laboratories where the company is continuing to test and develop their technology.

Once construction of the Ghent flagship plant is complete and the commercial viability of the project is proven, the intention is to construct further plants across ArcelorMittal’s operations. We are proud to be a part of a project that highlights the role carbon capture and reuse has to play in ArcelorMittal’s contribution to a low-carbon economy.
Weirton investment yields significant savings
ArcelorMittal Weirton received the 2016 Energy Achievement award at AISTech 2016. The award recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant improvement in energy-related productivity through new technology, practices and/or engineered methods. 

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ArcelorMittal Weirton received the 2016 Energy Achievement award at AISTech 2016. The award recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant improvement in energy-related productivity through new technology, practices and/or engineered methods. The Weirton facility was recognized for its package boiler installation project. 

To reduce energy consumption, ArcelorMittal Weirton replaced its old boiler house with a new, energy-efficient package boiler system. Once installed, the new system immediately started yielding significant energy and cost savings. Since the installation, ArcelorMittal Weirton’s MEU, tin mill, and strip steel divisions have been working together to optimize those savings.

One of the benefits of the package boilers is that they produce steam in close proximity to the manufacturing processes at the tin mill and strip steel operations. The system is also capable of adapting to changes in the plant’s operations. So, working with the manufacturer and ArcelorMittal’s engineering division, the Weirton team developed guidelines and procedures to reduce boiler output pressure when operating conditions don’t require full line pressure. 

The result is that the plant has dramatically reduced the natural gas it uses to make steam. For example, in the winter months of 2015, the plant’s average natural gas usage was 6.18 mmBTU per packaged ton. The monthly average for the same period in 2016 was only 4.11mmBTU, an improvement of more than 30 percent. 

This energy improvement results in a total cost savings for Weirton of approximately $275,000 - $300,000 per month: $250,000 per month because of the installation of energy efficient package boilers, and an extra $25,000 per month due to reduced pressure operating practices.

“With our old system, opportunities like this were not even available to us. The capital investment to implement the package boilers enabled us to be more energy efficient. The initial savings were low-hanging fruit, and we could have stopped there. Instead, we are actively managing the system to achieve more savings at no extra cost,” explained Matt Caprarese, division manager, MEU. 

Collaboration and communication have been key to the team’s success. The approach was inspired by a project implemented at ArcelorMittal Conshohocken, and through the company’s U.S. Energy Team roundtables, best practices were shared between facilities.

In developing the guidelines for when and how to flex the package boilers’ steam production, safety was – and continues to be – the very first consideration.

“Our goal is to achieve the lowest possible SAFE pressure. This must be done very carefully; it is not as simple as just shutting the boilers off. We also must take care not to damage the equipment,” said Wally Jancura, utilities manager. 

Practically, this means that the utilities crew communicates with the operating units to make real-time decisions to safely increase, decrease or maintain steam pressure within the established boundaries. 

“We realized there is free energy we can reap just by talking to each other,” Jancura said. “Our employees are proud of the gains we’ve made, and this project demonstrates how everyone can contribute to our energy goals.”

Consisting of five units, the new high-efficiency package boiler system has improved energy efficiency by 25 percent (from 58 percent to 83 percent). The system has reduced total energy consumption, decreased CO2 emissions by 54 thousand metric tons per year, improved system reliability and reduced operating costs – new boilers will save about $3.8 million per year in natural gas costs, plus $1 million per year in maintenance costs. 
Saving energy and money with VFD technology
At ArcelorMittal, we recognize that the steelmaking process requires significant energy. As a result, we are constantly finding ways to save energy. We strive to be a responsible energy user that helps create a lower carbon future. The installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) is one example of our efforts to do so. 

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At ArcelorMittal, we recognize that the steelmaking process requires significant energy. As a result, we are constantly finding ways to save energy. We strive to be a responsible energy user that helps create a lower carbon future. The installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) is one example of our efforts to do so. 

At the Burns Harbor hot strip mill, four 400 horsepower motors power pumps supply water to the runout table to cool a steel strip after it passes through the finishing mill.  According to Tom Poplawski, process manager, “These pumps ran all the time, whether the mill was down or on a slower pace – even when we were running product that did not require all the 60,000 gallons per minute.” 

To reconcile this unnecessary expenditure of energy, Tom and three of his colleagues decided to install VFD technology. A VFD is a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the motor. With the VFDs varying the speed of the four motors, the pumps provide just the amount of water required for cooling the steel and no more. “Today, they are running between 60 to 80 percent of the speed that was previously used and we’re only delivering the water required by the operation,” explains Larry Fabina, manager, continuous improvement.

The replacement process took careful planning and the team had a tight window to get the VFDs installed.

“We didn’t have time to remove the old starters, so we had to find an area to install the new drives, while we were still running on the old drives,” says Melecio Magallon, project manager. “Once we identified that, the next hurdles were power cables. We weren’t very comfortable with the existing power cables, because of their age, and they weren’t really designed for a VFD. So, we figured out a way to get the new power feeds from the new drives down to the existing motors. Then, we brought in a contractor to work with our in-house electricians and do the physical install, as well as all the wiring, the start-up and commissioning.”

The first advantage of the new process is energy efficiency, but that is not all. Burns Harbor is also saving money on maintenance, because there isn’t as much wear and tear on the pumping system.

Plus, the system may ultimately help improve the quality of the product, due to more consistent temperature control.

“One of the things we looked at was how the pressure is affected by turning on the bottom spray,” explains Chris Thompson, engineer. “Sometimes this causes a pretty big pressure drop, which affects our coiling temperature. We were never able to do anything about it before because the speeds always had to be at 100 percent for all the pumps. Now we’re able to increase the speed right when we’re turning on the bottom spray. We don’t get the pressure dip and it improves our coiling temperature control in the head end of the strip. So it made a difference in quality to make it better and we didn’t even think about that to begin with.”

This project was a success on many levels, according to Fabina. ”Number one, it was done safely - no injuries happened throughout the project. Number two, it came in under cost. Three, the project has attained the energy savings that was in the new original project scope. And four, we maxed out on the incentive check from the utility company (NIPSCO), which was $440,000. This project has a little over a one year pay back and from here on out it will be saving approximately $360,000 a year, year after year.”

ArcelorMittal acquired the VFDs from Eaton, a power-management company that works with companies to improve their energy efficiency and worked on the installation with Glenmount Global solutions, an independent engineering and technology company.

VFDs have been installed at a number of other facilities and will continue to be adopted due to their many benefits. Saving energy and money, they are an effective solution that contributes to our goal of being a responsible energy user.