A significant and visible milestone was met on the project to extend the life of Tata Steel’s Blast Furnace 5 in Port Talbot last week as the new downcomer was lifted and fixed into place.
Vital work is being carried out on the giant furnace – which has been running for the past 15 years producing almost 30 million tonnes of iron – to extend its life by five to seven years.
In a remarkable feat of engineering, the pipe weighing in at more than100t and measuring 180ft long was lifted into position by a 1000t crane. Incredibly, to fit the gap that had been left by the removal of the old downcomer, the new pipe had to be made and fitted within a tolerance of just 3mm.
The woman leading the project Rouha Hussaina said: “A great deal of planning and preparation was undertaken by our partners Mii, Primetals, Mammoet and our engineers and I am glad to see it executed as planned.
“To the passers-by it would appear to be a simple lift; however, a considerable amount of engineering was applied to accomplish the job in a safe and sound manner. Current technology including laser scanning and 3D-modelling and analysis was used to aid the lifting study. The downcomer was built in a remote location and transported using self-propelled modular transporters.”
The project, costing tens of millions of pounds and expected to take several months, will also see the waste gas and dust extraction system being replaced.
The Blast Furnace 5 life extension project is a critical part of Tata Steel’s long-term strategy to strengthen its operations in the UK and will underpin improvements throughout its UK supply chain. Confirmation of the investment came at the same time as the announcement in June of definitive agreements being signed by thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel to form a joint venture of their European steel businesses.
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About Tata Steel’s European operations
Tata Steel is one of Europe's leading steel producers, with steelmaking in the Netherlands and the UK, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies high-quality steel products to the most demanding markets, including construction and infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering. Tata Steel works with customers to develop new steel products which give them a competitive edge. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the top global steel companies, with an annual crude steel capacity of 27.5 million tonnes and more than 65,000 employees across five continents. The group’s turnover in the year ending March 2018 was US $20.4 billion.