Ukrainian specialists in the Indian project of iron powder preparation

Resource and energy conservation are vital problems of the present time. Either in science or in technology domain this issue is important.

Powder metallurgy is constantly and rapidly evolving technology. Only the European market of powder metallurgy has an annual turnover of over 6 billions euros, and the annual world production of powdered metals excess one million tons.


Mostly due to lowering of costs of powder metallurgy its products found maximum usage (80%) in the automotive industry. The main advantages of the products of powder metallurgy - the highest percentage of utilization of the original raw material (95%) and the lowest energy consumption to produce the final product.

India has deposits of natural extremely pure hematite iron ores. Now this is very important, because the demand for sponge iron powder is growing, and natural resources of raw materials - pure ores - are depleting. In the same time, removing the impurities below a certain limit is very expensive.
While enriching Indian ore, the level of 69.8% of iron content is reached quite easily, with 0.3% of residual silica. However, there is a problem with the most fines fractions after enrichment. Attempts to create a reliable recovery method to produce the iron powder from these concentrates were carried out for many years.  Nor Indian neither Russian developments in this direction were not entirely successful. The so-called carbothermic reduction process by layers, that do not mix, was implemented, particularly, in the central Indian city of Hyderabad in ARCI. But at a certain phase, the technology of iron powder production from Indian concentrate, faced with some problems. That is why in 1998 the developers appealed to professionals from Gas Institute, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. As a result, a group of Ukrainian specialists (B.I. Bondarenko, E.P. Pokotylo, O.M. Svyatenko, D.N. Fedorov) for the first time in a pilot scale obtained the iron powder from hematite concentrate of Indian iron ore.
It was not easy technological issue, but the Ukrainian team, having worked together with researchers at the Indian Center ARCI, not only proved that this material can be transformed to the high-quality iron powder, but also have shown the potential for commercialization of this technology. At the same center in ARCI, on a pilot furnace designed by Ukrainian specialists, iron powder was produced only in a single stage of hydrogen reduction.
One of the largest companies in India, NMDC (National Mineral Development Corporation) with headquarters in Hyderabad, for many years conducted their own research on a technology of hematite concentrate reduction by hydrogen. After long negotiations between NMDC and Gas Institute, in 2006 was signed a contract to build a full-scale pilot plant at the company's research center in Hyderabad. The main requirement was to obtain a «carbon-free» iron powder by hydrogen reduction.
The know-how of the technology is a conveyor furnace of special design, only one which can realize the recycling of hydrogen excess, which must be introduced to the furnace for reduction of iron oxides. This hydrogen recirculation process reduces operational costs in 2-3 times comparing to any other process.
Construction of the plant lasted from 2006 to 2009. Building proces in India was held by Indian furnace construction Company "Fluidtherm technology". The main scientific expert, responsible for the technology part and its implementation in the plant, was Fedorov D.M. A long and difficult way from the date of signing the contract to manufacture of the first tone of powder was passed: bureaucratic issues, numerous professional researches, supported by our colleagues, presentations of the results at numerous conferences, first fail launch of own-designed oven, the problem of the constant power outages, etc.
Finally, all this led to the successful preliminary admissions exams on January 1st, 2010. The reliability of the technology was proven, and the first 20 tons of iron powder were produced. By this time, such technology on this scale was not implemented anywhere in the world.
Congratulations to Ukrainian specialists with success in this modern and unique project!


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