Advancing furnace process performance with automation - Radar feedback control

Author(s) R. MacRosty, Y. Elksnis, N. Bartsch, F. Stober, P. Tracy, C. Sicilia
Published in the proceedings from the 62nd conference of metallurgists (COM 2023) - August 21-24, 2023 - Toronto, ON


The design and operation of the electric furnace has undergone significant advancements over the past several decades with the smelting industry moving towards increased crucible power density and maximizing operating efficiency. The push towards higher efficiency coupled with more challenging operating conditions, such as lower quality and more variable ore grades, has necessitated the evolution of furnace instrumentation and advancement of control systems to ensure safe and efficient operation. This chapter is focused on the progression of the instrumentation and automation required to facilitate operation and mitigate risks associated with high intensity furnace operations. Emphasis is placed on automated furnace feeding using radar instruments for feedback control. This is a somewhat recent development that continues to evolve and improve consistency of operation. The outcomes are improved performance, greater operational efficiency, and potential reductions in carbon emissions. Examples from two high-power, shielded-arc operations that rely on accurate bath coverage are presented herein. Another important aspect in optimizing furnace operational efficiency is the integration and coordination of the upstream and downstream equipment with the furnace operation. Additionally, this chapter describes some recent advancements in instrumentation, some of which are under development, that will continue to shape the next generation of metallurgical furnace operations. In the context of climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions, process efficiency improvements offered by technologies such as those described herein are becoming increasingly important to reduce the carbon footprint within heavy industry.