Danieli NanoMill points the way to the future

“Many small steel plant operations in developing countries are struggling because there is no such thing as scrap recycling management as we know it in Europe,” says Bernard Villemin, managing director of Danieli Centro Met Swiss. Players in the Middle East and the Far East, for example, have been running into this obstacle. “The main problem for them is obtaining scrap from the source”, he says. According to recycling technology specialists Danieli Lynxs and Danieli Centro Met Swiss, there is now a way to overcome this issue in the form of the Danieli NanoMill.

SouthAfrica1Presented as a “competitive solution for local needs”, the Danieli NanoMill includes modern scrap shredders and shears for raw material preparation which are taken from the portfolios of Danieli Lynxs and Danieli Henschel. The entire mill boasts a productivity of some 100 000 to 300 000 tonnes per year. “Our concept works for two scenarios – either we prepare the scrap for an electric arc furnace on the site to produce liquid steel, “explains Villemin, managing director of Danieli Centro Met Swiss.

For infeed scrap found to be “too heavy”, the scrap shear serves as the required pre-treatment tool. However, the shredder incorporated into the solution plays a leading role as it is usually the first processing unit used within the NanoMill. It is able to densify and clean the material, thus separating the ferrous from the non-ferrous scrap as well as possible contaminants such as textiles, PVC, wood and stones. Getting rid of the impurities in the scrap feed allows for an optimised specific electrical consumption for the melting process.

Ultimately, the shredder and shears used in the NanoMill result in a uniform fragment size, enabling automated metals recovery. The compact, integrated shredder is tailored to the needs of small scrap operators and can handle from 20 tonnes up to approximatively 50 tonnes per hour.

A matter of location

The NanoMill vision is quite similar to the minimill launched in the 1970s by entrepreneurs like Willy Korf. “It is really a very simple concept and focuses on the question of where is the source of the scrap”, explains Bernard Villemin. To answer that, you need to ask yourself the location of the customer – who is dealing with rebar, for example – and whether he has access to a sufficiently strong electrical network. “And most importantly, you need to establish where proper logistics and decent recycling infrastructure, like a railway system of efficient roads, are available” he adds. This solution was created with a special target group in mind, namely independent scrap dealers and steelmakers. The basic strategy is easy to describe, says Villemin, adding: “We aim to buy the cheapest scrap available and to use Danieli’s processing equipment to guarantee the highest possible end-value of the final products.” The pay-off has been proven to be quite worth-while because the initial level of contamination is “optimum” to protect the overall bottom line. “Because the costs of securing the unprepared scrap itself are so very low, the yield in the electric arc furnace or induction furnace is higher than for previously-treated scrap that has to be imported. “This is partly due to the fact than scrap preparation within the NanoMill obtains a good value for the non-ferrous material, such as copper or aluminium, which can then be sold on.

Still ringing true

As early as in the 1970s, the industry recognised that it would be best to set up mini-mills mostly near metropolitan areas because of the easy access to vehicle scrap, demolition scrap and so on. This part of the concept still rings true, notes Villemin. “You could say that our solution fits well in big cities, for instance those in Africa with a population of 1-5 million where they do not have too many steelmaking facilities”, he observes.

Above all, the Danieli NanoMill with its integrated shredder and shear is said to be an answer to a very common issue: the way recycling is organised – or, rather, not organised at all, according to Danieli. Even today, recycling management “leaves much to be desired” in some parts of the world. This structural gap is a significant stumbling block for small scrap players because the must rely on properly-treated material acquired from elsewhere, most often overseas. In some countries, such as those in the Middle East, everything has to be brought to the site over long distances. “This means that all the material has to travel 2000 or 3000 km to end up at the right facility”, states Thomas Klein, executive manager at Danieli Centro Met Swiss. To name but a few nations, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Peru and Brazil have voiced similar complaints, with scrap all across the country not collected and not prepared, leaving the industry to look beyond its own domestic horizon for better-quality material and losing money as a consequence. But it’s not only a matter of money, Klein and Villemin agree. If you load an electric furnace of an induction furnace with untreated scrap, the overall yield will be “much, much lower” in comparison to an operation using prepared scrap. That’s why Danieli declares that the objective of its new concept is to take care of the full process involving scrap, ranging from source to final product.

In-house solution

“In order to solve the scrap issue, we realised we had to be very innovative”, Villemin explains. “We soon figured it would be better to have an integrated shredder close by, as part of a NanoMill. You see, in the case if Iraq, we could install a NanoMill in the country’s capital Baghdad. As a result, the impact on trucking is so big that logistics costs average 50% less than those for a standard mill. Essentially, we allow operations to minimise outsourcing by providing the processing equipment scrap players need, in-house”.

Transport isn’t the only operational element where scrap enterprises stand to benefit financially. When comparing the purchase of scrap from overseas to the option of investing in a NanoMill, there is “a minimum difference of US$20 to US$40 in terms of material costs. Besides, for a market characterised by wide fluctuations in scrap prices and severe changes to the value of the final product, every minute matters, underlines Villemin. “Metals recycling is nearly always a question of timing” he states. “In other words, you cannot waste time, you must act fast.” Since Danieli started promoting its idea about a year and a half ago, it has sold five NanoMills. “We are currently talking to many companies worldwide”, comments the team at Danieli Centro Met Swiss. “I believe we will be able to launch around 40 projects in the following three to five years”, estimates Villemin, who adds that demand for integrated systems has ignited in, among other places, South America.

Nanomil Shredder

Downsized

In explaining the interest in the NanoMill, Klein highlights that this does not constitute a new technology. “Basically, the existing method was rearranged – you might say downsized – to represent the production of the group we are targeting”, he says. “This rearrangement to the correct sizes is the success behind the NanoMill”. The company is confident about the concept’s prospects; it absolutely intends to focus more on manufacturing NanoMills and thus dedicate itself to becoming a specialist in this technology, says Villemin. He argues that, even in light of various past and upcoming consolidations, Danieli will be in position to “ram up” its activities. And he asserts: “It isn’t a matter of “will it be a success or not?” because this is the right process for materials that many businesses need”.

By Kirstin Linnenkoper
For Recycling International, April 2013

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