voestalpine is an international benchmark in the steel industry with respect to environmental compatibility, emissions neutrality and efficiency. In order to retain this position, the entire voestalpine Group is endeavoring to optimize its production facilities and technologies.
The natural gas fueled direct reduction plant in San Patricio helps to significantly improve the carbon footprint of the voestalpine Group and is an important step in the achievement of the Group’s ambitious internal energy efficiency and climate protection objectives.
Future-proof design by applying stringent European standards
Due to the fact that natural gas and iron oxides are the only raw materials used in the process, no hazardous or toxic by-products will occur in the facility.
In accordance with our long-term commitment to South Texas, we go the extra mile to be in compliance not only with existing emission limits but also with future ones. The plant design incorporates our European environmental standards (whenever more stringent) and has many innovative features, such as:
- Use of seawater to conserve precious freshwater resources
- Closed storage for eliminating fugitive dust from iron oxide pellet storage
- Round trip shipping concept to minimize empty ship sailings
Applying a holistic environmental approach
To stay “one step ahead” in environmental stewardship, we apply a holistic environmental approach. When designing our facility we consider air, water, neighboring communities, fauna, flora and archeological or historical conditions. We maintain a close exchange of information with all involved environmental agencies and groups.
Keeping Coastal Bend’s air clean
voestalpine applies Best Available Control Technology (BACT) such as
- baghouse filters
- wet scrubbers
- enclosed conveyors and transfer stations
- enclosed iron oxide pellet storage
- high-efficiency burners
- dust control measures during construction
Emissions are below significant impact level (criteria pollutants) and below TCEQ Effects Screening Levels.
Benchmark-setting freshwater conservation by using seawater
The Project will require approximately 10 million gallons per day (MGD) of makeup water. The use of seawater from Corpus Christi Bay will meet the cooling and process water needs while avoiding negative impacts to the scarce freshwater resources protected by the state water plan. The processes are designed to reuse as much water as possible. Once operational, the voestalpine facility will utilize several of the management practices described in the Texas Water Development Board’s February 2013 publication titled “Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Industrial Water Users” to promote water conservation.
The majority (approx. 80%) of the seawater diversion will be used solely for non-contact cooling in a heat exchanger loop with closed circuit cooling towers and a filter backwash system. The remainder will be delivered by the San Patricio Municipal Water District (SPMWD) as raw water. This process water is further treated in the onsite process water treatment facility, which allows for approximately 97% to be recycled in the plant.
More than 80% of the water withdrawn is returned back into Corpus Christi Bay, meeting or exceeding all regulatory requirements:
- Treated process water will meet federal categorical discharge requirements (NSPS)
- Discharge will comply with current NPDES (TPDES) discharge limits for specific pollutants for protection of state surface water
- Intake and discharge structure design measures will minimize adverse environmental impacts
- Baseline biological studies and discharge dispersion modeling are being conducted to ensure the withdrawal and effluent is protective of the fishery and aquatic resources of the bay
The water conservation initiatives described above align with voestalpine’s ambitious internal energy efficiency and environmental stewardship objectives, which include sustainable production processes, responsible conservation of resources, and the implementation of state-of-the-art technologies
Noise and sound generation
Noise level (decibels) will attenuate to harmless levels before reaching known sensitive wildlife receptors. Noise will remain within the decibel noise ordinance requirements of our neighboring communities.
Sounds generated during the start-up phase may be more noticeable than sounds generated during operations.