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State-of-the-art environmental protection at the new special steel plant

State-of-the-art environmental protection at the new special steel plant

The voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl special steel plant is also the most advanced of its kind when it comes to environmental protection. Key measures include the use of green electricity, the sustainable use of waste heat, and effective emissions protection.

Aerial view of Kapfenberg stainless steel plant
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One major achievement in terms of environmental protection at the new high-tech special steel plant in Kapfenberg is the sole use of green electricity to power the electric arc furnace (EAF) at the heart of the plant. Furthermore, a comprehensive package of measures helps to save resources and protect the environment, employees, and local residents.

Portrait MICHAEL E. Head of Environment & Investments der voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl

We placed special emphasis on environmental protection when planning our new special steel plant. Air and wastewater treatment plants are state-of-the-art, meeting the most stringent environmental regulations. High-capacity heat recovery systems also help reduce emissions.

Michael E.
Head of Environment & Investments at voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl

Heat cycle

Producing 205,000 tons of special steel and other high-performance materials each year requires a lot of heat: when the sun-hot electric arc melts the input materials, the liquid steel reaches temperatures of up to 1,800°C. Water remains the medium of choice for cooling at the plant.

voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl uses a modern system for recovering heat and utilizing waste heat to conserve this important natural resource. Using a closed-loop cooling cycle, the new special steel plant reduces the volume of cooling water that is extracted and returned by around 90% compared to the plant it replaces.

Heat transfer

So what to do with the heat? This waste heat is a valuable source of energy. The vacuum AOD converter and EAF are equipped with a heat recovery system, allowing up to 12.5 MW of heating capacity to be extracted from the energy in the cooling water. This is achieved using a 1,500-meter pipe which joins the new special steel plant to the central boiler room. From here, the heat is transferred for internal consumption at the plant and to the Kapfenberg public heating network. This saves up to 20 GWh in district heating each year, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 4,000 tons.

Using heat for cooling

The new special steel plant also needs to cool its servers and control stations. It uses absorption technology to use the heat generated in the plant for cooling. There is no need for electric compressors in this process.

An absorption cooler offers the lowest operating costs, requires little maintenance, does not generate any additional CO2 emissions, and uses hardly any electricity.

Michael E.

Clean and quiet

To eliminate noise pollution resulting from processes including melting in the EAF, voestalpine uses the most efficient sound-absorbing cladding and insulation to minimize the sounds of charging, tapping, and exhaust suction systems. And talking about exhaust extraction, 3.8 million cubic meters of exhaust air is dedusted every hour. Consequently, dust at the new plant has been reduced by around 75%. Highly-digitalized process controls ensure that the blower capacity is adjusted for each specific process. That means dedusting levels in the new special steel plant are directly determined by the production stage, e.g., during charging or tapping.

Roof extraction melting and casting area of voestalpine BÖHLER Edelstahl
Excellent noise-insulated roof extraction system at the new special steel plant
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Die voestalpine ist ein weltweit führender Stahl- und Technologiekonzern mit kombinierter Werkstoff- und Verarbeitungskompetenz. Die global tätige Unternehmensgruppe verfügt über rund 500 Konzerngesellschaften und -standorte in mehr als 50 Ländern auf allen fünf Kontinenten. Sie notiert seit 1995 an der Wiener Börse. Mit ihren Premium-Produkt- und Systemlösungen zählt sie zu den führenden Partnern der Automobil- und Hausgeräteindustrie sowie der Luftfahrt- und Öl- & Gasindustrie und ist darüber hinaus Weltmarktführer bei Bahninfrastruktursystemen, bei Werkzeugstahl und Spezialprofilen. Die voestalpine bekennt sich zu den globalen Klimazielen und verfolgt mit greentec steel einen klaren Plan zur Dekarbonisierung der Stahlproduktion.