In Russia, the work of the so-called open-hearth furnaces, the legendary apparatus for steelmaking, was finally discontinued. Without the open-hearth, it is impossible to imagine either the industrialization of the 1930, nor the victory in the Great Patriotic War, nor the achievement of the industry of the late USSR. Why do steelmakers eventually abandon it?
Last week in Russia, the last major open-hearth furnace in the country was finished, which was located at the Vyksa plant (part of OMK). "A whole historical era is disappearing in the development of metallurgy, but at the same time, the ecological situation will improve, jobs with harmful working conditions will be significantly reduced," said OMK Board of Directors Chairman Anatoly Sedykh. Modern furnaces will replace the legendary open-hearth, without which in its time even a victory in the Great Patriotic War would be impossible.
"Days and nights at open-hearth furnaces. Our Homeland of the Eyes did not close, "is the well-known lyrics of the song" Victory Day ". And they are quite fair. Marten furnaces are among the main heroes of the Great Patriotic War.
"Marten 40-x gave in the open field armor to our tanks of the Great Patriotic War. Despite the loss of the most valuable deposits of manganese and molybdenum at the beginning of the war, this armor still allowed our tank aces to successfully resist the hordes of fascist armored vehicles, "says Maxim Khudalov, director of the corporate ratings group of ACRA. It is a question of the Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Combine, which was then built in record time. It was created specifically to ensure the country's defense capability and the needs of the front.
In 1941, 35 open-hearth furnaces with a total capacity of 1400 tons worked for defense needs, although almost half of the containers were lost in the first period of the war. "But, despite numerous difficulties, it was possible to create a continuous growth of armaments, new types of armor were invented, workers struggled for every minute to shorten the time of melting, the notion" steelmaker-speeder "arose. The work was boiling day and night, the whole country fought for victory in one go, martens and steel makers were one of its most important symbols, "says Ivan Andriyevsky, First Vice President of the Russian Union of Engineers.
The Marten furnaces, in modern terms, allowed the USSR to import and to create an independent steel industry.
"In a difficult period, when both the technical potential and the country's economic potential were at a low level, it was the open-hearth furnaces with their unpretentiousness and tolerance for mistakes and staff shortages that allowed us to catch up and overtake Western countries in some ways. Without open-hearths, we would buy foreign cars and equipment, including weapons, as many modern countries of Europe, Asia and the Middle East are doing, "Khudalov said.
In 50-60, an ultrapure metal from factory martens enabled our jet planes to protect the sky from enemy bombers and scouts, and then to bring into space the first ever cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the interlocutor reminds.
"It was through the open-hearth furnaces that Stalin's industrialization took place, then the struggle against fascism, then the restoration of industry and its steady growth. Marten furnaces were supplied by railways, tanks, shells, locomotives, ships, tractors, and so on, "Andrievsky sums up.
The Martin furnace is the most important invention of the XIX century, it was developed by the French metallurgist Pierre Martin in 1864 year. Today, throughout the world, open-hearth metallurgy is considered obsolete. In the European Union, the last thousand tons of metal were smelted in open-hearth furnaces in 2010, in Byelorussia and Uzbekistan - in 2011. However, there are countries where these giants still work: they are India, Ukraine and until recently the Russian Federation. According to the agency ACRA for 2014 year, Ukraine produced 5,6 million tons of raw metal with the help of open-hearth furnaces, and Russia - about 2 million tons (India this year produced just 35 thousand tons). In 2016 year, the open-hearth production accounted for only 600 thousand tonnes of steel or 1% of total production in Russia at 70 million tonnes.
In fact, the closure of non-environmental open-hearth furnaces in Russia began talking at the beginning of the 2000. In 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Trade directly announced the need to withdraw dirty production until the end of 2015.
However, the martens are tenacious. Why? It turns out that, despite the latest technologies, open-hearth furnaces win a number of indicators from their current competitors. The advantage of open-hearth furnace in its absolute unpretentiousness to the quality of raw materials. "To produce high-quality rolled electric arc furnace, the manufacturer today must have an absolutely clear understanding of the quality of the raw materials used. This should be a sorted scrap, tested for no harmful inclusions, for example, the remains of a copper wire. While the open-hearth furnace allows to ignore these shortcomings of raw materials, as in the process of many hours melting the technologist can remove slags and give out pure metal at the end of the smelting, "Khudalov explains.
This open-hearth furnace is very convenient for machine builders. They do not need to put blast furnace production for the production of liquid iron, and they can use any type of raw materials (including scrap iron) and get a high quality product at the outlet. Considering the competition for steel scrap in Russia, this is an important advantage. In addition, machine-building lost in the 90-ies cooperation with producers of raw materials, and the martens allowed them to be somewhat independent of the metallurgists.
"Classical metallurgical plants basically got rid of open-hearths already by 2010 year, but for machine-builders it's very convenient to have your own foundry. The environmental harm of the open-hearth furnace is exaggerated, since it does not work constantly, but only for performing complex, responsible orders. In this case, the own foundry shop allows you to produce blanks of unconventional sizes and with the correct chemistry, which the classical steel industry can not provide, and if it can, it will take considerable time and additional costs, "Khudalov explains.
However, the marten is still a thing of the past. The technologies of the open-hearth are mercilessly obsolete and have not been made for almost 50 years. These furnaces lose to modern types of melting both in terms of productivity, and in terms of safety, environmental friendliness and time costs.
According to experts, the open-hearth furnace has a very long melting cycle - 6-15 hours against 30-50 minutes for oxygen converters and electric arc furnaces. In addition, high-alloy and special steels can not be obtained through open-hearth furnaces. Finally, emissions from open-hearth furnaces are dangerous for ecology and health, because they can use both ore and low-quality fuels, from gas and coke to car tires. At Vyksunsky plant believe that due to the closing of the last open-hearth, it will be possible to reduce the amount of harmful emissions to the atmosphere by 90%.
In a number of cases, the marten produces fairly good results. Therefore, the issue of their replacement is more likely in ecology and better working conditions, Andrievsky believes. Given that Russia is not very concerned about environmental issues, it has long remained among the few countries that still use open-hearth furnaces. Affects the lack of investment in modernization in our industry. "If the old technology works, eco-standards do not press, then the desire to change it may not arise," Andrievsky said.
The abandonment of open-hearth in Russia is associated more with a bad economy. "Due to the lower efficiency of open-hearth furnaces and the significantly longer melting process, the cost of metal on them exceeds the cost of similar products obtained in modern steelmaking," Khudalov said.