A Missouri S&T research team has been awarded a $2 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to research ways to improve the efficiency of electric arc furnaces used for the making of steel.

“Today’s electric furnaces are some of the most efficient in the world,” according to Missouri S&T’s Ron O’Malley, who is leading the study. “They have 1/3 of the emissions footprints of a traditional integrated steel route. And as a result, they are highly efficient as well. And so, they can be very cost beneficial to the producers of the steel that utilize its equipment.”

The grant is part of a larger three-part project. In the current phase, new fiber optic sensing technologies will be used to better determine operating cost, yield, and energy efficiency. O’Malley expects funding to be handed out next year for the next phase.

“The technologies that we’re talking about are applying some of the state-of-the-art sensors technologies that are being developed here at Missouri S&T into the furnaces in conjunction with other control strategies with industry partners to greatly improve the efficiency of furnace operation,” explained O’Malley.

Looking to the future for implementing these new changes, Missouri S&T has partnered with Big River Steel in Arkansas and CMC in Alabama to help roll out these new changes.

“The big picture is that we develop essentially an overall dynamic control strategy that allows electric furnaces to be operated with very high efficiency to be responsive to changes in inputs and provide the operators to tool the tools needed to actually produce steel at the highest possible efficiency and the lowest possible costs.”

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