The Anonymous Widower

How To Build A Liverpool-Style Optical Bench

When I worked at ICI in Runcorn, one of the guys had developed a very accurate instrument for measuring trace chemicals in a process stream. I remember one of these instruments was used to measure water in parts per million in methyl methaculate, which is the misnomer or base chemical for Perspex.

All the optical compliments needed to be mounted on a firm base, so a length of one-inch C-section steel beam was chosen. The surface was then machined flat to a high accuracy.

In the end they found that instead of using new beams, old ones decades-old from the depths of a scrap yard gave better accuracy as the steel had all crystallised out. Machined and spray-painted no-one knew their history.

But they were superb instruments and ICI even sold them abroad.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BECCS Beats Hydrogen For Decarbonizing Steel In Europe: ArcelorMittal

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on S & P Global Platts.

This is the first paragraph.

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) offers a more cost-effective, readily available solution for decarbonizing the steel industry in Europe than clean hydrogen, steel producer ArcelorMittal’s head of strategy David Clarke said May 17.

So what do they mean by bioenergy?

To make iron from iron ore, you need a reducing agent like carbon or hydrogen.

Iron ore is rich in oxides of iron.

The carbon is usually some form of coal, which produces large amounts of carbon dioxide with the oxygen from the iron oxides.

Hydrogen produces lots of water with the oxygen.

David Clarke of ArcelorMittal explains the process in the article.

“We know biomass worked as a replacement for coal,” he said. “We’ve been using it in our operations in Brazil and other places for many, many years. We have a project in Belgium that we’ll be starting up next year using waste wood, using that to make bio-coal,” with a project to take the emissions from the bio-coal to produce bioethanol.

Is this a case of Back-To-The-Future? If I remember my history, didn’t Iron Age men use charcoal to smelt iron and other metal ores?

If those scientists from Velocys can make Sustainable Aviation Fuel and biodiesel from household waste and used disposable nappies, can they apply their magic to make bio-coal?

I see great cost advantages with this process, as surely it would enable existing blast furnaces to be used, provided they were fitted with carbon capture and storage.

May 17, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sweden’s Grand Plan To Make Zero-Carbon Steel

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on theTelegraph.

It adds a lot of colour and background to Sweden’s plan to make zero-carbon stell using a process called HYBRIT, that I wrote about in Funding Award to Supply An 8MW Electrolyser and is illustrated in this infographic.

The amount of hydrogen needed is large as this paragraph from the Telegraph article says.

HYBRIT’s demonstration plant, for which an investment decision is due in 2022, will require 400MW of power just for the electrolysers to make the hydrogen. Sweden’s largest existing wind farm, Björkhöjden, produces just 288MW. Then to store the hydrogen, Vattenfall plans to build 120,000 m3 of lined underground storage, enough to store 100GWh worth of the gas.

Will they procure the electrolysers from the UK’s experts in the field; iTM Power? This innovative company is building the world’s largest electrolyser factory in Rotherham, which will be able to produce a GW of electrolysers in a year.

Conclusion

This well-written article in the Telegraph explains a lot about steel produced using hydrogen instead of coal.

Sweden has a lot of advantages at Lulea to create steel.

  • The iron ore is mined locally.
  • Sweden has ninety percent of Europe’s iron ore.
  • Ships can sail to Lulea, which is at the top of the Baltic.
  • There is gigawatts of zero-carbon electricity from the River Lule.
  • They can build wind farms in the area, which has a low population.

It does look that they might export the iron ore as sponge iron, which can then be processed directly into steel products using electric arc furnaces.

 

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , | 1 Comment

Green Light For Fossil-Free Steel In Oxelösund

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Market Screener.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Green light for fossil-free steel in Oxelösund The Land and Environment Court has decided to grant SSAB Oxelösund an environmental permit to convert its steelmaking operations and reduce carbon dioxide activities by 2025. This also means that we will take a step nearer towards fossil-free steel production across SSAB in 2045.

This is an historic decision in many ways. It is the first time that Oxelösund has applied for changes in production to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Use of sponge iron made through HYBRIT technology, together with scrap iron as feedstock instead of iron ore and coal, will enable SSAB to reduce emissions in Oxelösund by around 80%.

Hydrogen steelmaking processes are surely the future of steelmaking, as they can be made zero-carbon.

It will need a lot of hydrogen and I can see processes like Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process being ideal to produce the hydrogen.

But will China and the other countries that produce cheap steel, turn to hydrogen steel-making?

December 23, 2020 Posted by | Business, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dereliction On Teesside – 28th October 2020

The Tees Valley Line between Middlesbrough and Redcar is lined with derelict steel works.

I don’t think there’s an area of such industrial dereliction, in the UK.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Business, World | , , | Leave a comment

Scunthorpe Steelworks

On my way back from Cleethorpes, I passed Scunthorpe Steelworks.

It did seem rather quiet, although I did pass a train-load of new rails on their way to somewhere.

The Future Of Steel-Making

Steel-Making is on its uppers in the UK and it has a bad carbon footprint.

However, various processes are in development that could make the industry fit for the Twenty-First Century.

HIsarna Steelmaking

In Whitehaven Deep Coal Mine Plan Moves Step Closer, I said this.

In Wikipedia, there is an entry for the HIsarna ironmaking process.

This process is being developed by the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium, which includes Tata Steel and the Rio Tinto Group. Reduction in carbon-dioxide produced by the process compared to traditional steel-making are claimed to be as high as fifty percent.

This figure does not include carbon-capture to reduce the carbon-dioxide still further.

However, looking at descriptions of the process, I feel that applying carbon-capture to the HIsarna steelmaking process might be a lot easier, than with traditional steelmaking.

As Scunthorpe is close to Theddlethorpe Gas Terminal, the captured carbon-dioxide could probably be stored in wells connected to the terminal.

Hydrogen Steelmaking

North-East Lincolnshire is becoming the new Aberdeen, but instead of being based solely on oil and gas, there is a large proportion of wind energy being reaped.

In the future, I believe that a lot of this wind energy will be turned into hydrogen gas both onshore and increasing off-shore scores of miles out in the North Sea. There is talk of upwards of 70 GW of wind turbines being installed and much of it will be turned into hydrogen in North-East Lincolnshire.

In Funding Award to Supply An 8MW Electrolyser, I wrote about hydrogen steelmaking and the HYBRIT process in particular.

Will some of this massive amount of hydrogen be piped to Scunthorpe to make steel?

Conclusion

The future of steelmaking in Scunthorpe, doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

September 20, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wrong Kind Of Bleach?

This article on Railnews is entitled 9 September: News In Brief.

It has the following sub-title.

Wrong Bleach Took Caledonian Sleepers Out Of Service

This is the first sentence.

Cleabers who used the wrong specification of bleach in the toilets and shower rooms on Caledonian Sleepers caused significant damage after the chemicals reacted with stainless steel pipes,

To my knowledge stainless steel, especially when it contains increased levels of chromium and some molybdenum, can be very proof to attack from most substances.

Look at this Butler Shba cutlery made in Sheffield from stainless steel with black Delrin plastic handles, which have seen continuous use in my household for fifty years.

Now that’s what I call stainless steel!

Perhaps, the Spanish used the wrong type of stainless steel?

Delrin is a form of polyoxymethylene, which is an engineering plastic.

This plastic has a wide spectrum of usage, including in zips, bagpipes and metered dose inhalers, to name just three of hundreds.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail Bids For Part Of British Steel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail is looking to buy part of British Steel, as bidders have until the end of Sunday to put in offers for all or part of the troubled firm.

Many would say, why does the nationalised industry Network Rail, which let’s face it, has had its troubles in recent years, want to get involved with a bankrupt company?

You have to remember, how big companies work.

  • They need to manage their cash flow.
  • They need quality supplies, that will do what it says on the specification.
  • They want supplies to be delivered as and where they need it.

But above all they need to be properly financed.

Making And Delivering Rails

This paragraph in the BBC article says a lot.

Network Rail owns and operates the UK’s railway network, including 20,000 miles of track, and buys 100,000 tonnes of rails from British Steel each year.

Suppose, you want to lay new rails urgently between Inverness and the Far North of Scotland. Getting it there will be a logistics problem, which will be made worse, if the source is halfway around the world.

And suppose, when it arrives in the UK, it fails the quality test! You can’t just give it back to the postman.

So for a reliable railway, Network Rail also needs a reliable supplier making rails, close enough for product to be delivered by special train.

From what I have read in the railway press, British Steel are good at the following.

  • Manufacturing quality rail.
  • Developing special products for rail companies.
  • Delivering it on special trains.

To illustrate this, read British Steel Secures Major Contract From Deutsche Bahn.

I also think, that in addition to the Germans, British Steel sell rail to the Belgians, French and the Dutch, to name but three.

So certainly, British Steel seem to be on the ball with making and delivering rails.

But they appear to be seriously underfunded.

Acquiring British Steel

If I was a financier, thinking about taking over British Steel, one of the most important things would be to secure the sales and the resulting cash flow for the company.

I would be on the train to all of the major rail infrastructure companies, that could be reached by British Steel’s special trains from Scunthorpe.

Network Rail have already put a marker down, that they would buy British Steel’s Rail Products Division, but are other rail infrastructure companies also looking at securing quality product, by either buying the division themselves or pledging support alongside Network Rail.

Network Rail are also aware that their predecessor Railtrack, was brought down by the Hatfield Rail Crash, so they are probably and rightly so, paranoid about safety.

The very fact that Network Rail have put in a bid, suggests to me that they know their power in the negotiations to follow, as any purchaser, who doesn’t have the major customers onside, is probably doomed to fail.

On the other hand, if British Steel was bought by someone, that would increase the risk of dodgy product, Network Rail would go elsewhere.

But would they be able to get the same quality and service?

Conclusion

I am sure, that Network Rail, Deutsche Bahn and all the other rail infrastructure companies will play a large park in the fate of British Steel.

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Northumberland Park Station – 22nd October 2018

Northumberland Park station is coming on.

It’s going to be a complicated steel construction.

Some people will like it! Other’s won’t!

I do suspect though, that there will be some superb photographs of this station, when the light is similar to how it was today.

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Steelworm At Whitechapel Station

I took this picture at Whitechapel station.

It looks like steel’s equivalent of woodworm has been at work!

 

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments