New sinter technology promises greener steels


University of Queensland researchers have developed a new type of sinter that could accelerate the iron and steelmaking industry’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions.

In collaboration with industry partners Rio Tinto and Shougang Group, researchers from UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute developed a novel sinter that is both less carbon-intensive to create and more efficient to use.

Sinter is the primary feed material for making iron in a blast furnace and is made by agglomerating very fine iron ore under extreme heat to produce a more solid material.

The Leader of SMI’s High Temperature Processing Program Dr Xiaodong Ma (pictured) said the novel sinter would enable industry to reduce emissions at both sinter plants and blast furnaces.

Dr Ma said said: “When you talk about carbon and emissions, you are really talking about two stages: the emissions created when the sinter itself is made and then the emissions created by the furnace in which the sinter is used.

“The sinter we have developed, which is now the intellectual property of Shougang Group, addresses both stages but has a particularly significant effect on the amount of coke consumed at the sinter plant.

“It can reduce the amount of coking coal in the sinter by about 23 percent – that is a huge amount considering the volumes of sinter used by the industry.”

Also the new sinter improves reducibility in blast furnaces, requiring less coking coal in the process.

Dr Xiadong Ma will be presenting the project as part of the 2023 World Mining Congress’s ‘Processing & Refining’ stream on 29 June.

Picture: University of Queensland/Dr Xiaodong Ma

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