发展电炉炼钢,时机成熟了吗?

发展电炉炼钢,时机成熟了吗?

钟绍良  北京代表处首席代表/原料、经济与市场开发顾问
2018年2月13日

英国《金属导报》(Metal Bulletin)与中国五矿集团于2018年1月31日至2月1月在北京联合举办了中国国际铁矿石大会,我应邀参加此次会议,并发表了题为《处在十字路口的中国钢铁行业》的演讲。

铁矿石和废钢是钢铁生产所使用的两种主要原料,并且在技术上可以互为替代。中国自2003年以来一直是世界最大的铁矿石进口国。2017年,中国铁矿石进口数量创历史新高,达10.75亿吨。中国在过去十年里也一直在进口废钢,年进口总量已经从1000万吨逐渐下降到200万吨左右,而同时期废钢出口量近乎为零。 

2017年,中国废钢出口量出入意料地激增至230万吨,立即引发了中国是否应该建造更多电炉(详见炼钢工艺概览图)炼钢厂,以充分利用国内快速增加的废钢的讨论。目前,电炉炼钢产量占中国钢铁产量的比例大概为6.5%,而世界其他地区的比例为45%左右。

在此背景之下,我想分享有关中国未来电炉炼钢的发展时机的观点:

  • 中国当前的废钢供应总体上仍然短缺,大量落后的中频炉被迅速关停是导致短期内废钢出口量猛增的主要原因,中频炉主要以废钢为原料
  • 从中长期来看,过去二十年中国钢材消费量的迅速增长,将带动中国国内的废钢资源快速增长。在未来数年里,中国国内的废钢供应量可满足中国的炼钢需求,但是最迟未来15年内,很可能将出现废钢供应过剩
  • 过去二十年里,中国发展电炉炼钢遇到了全国性的电力供应瓶颈。但近三年来,电力供应由紧张转为充足,部分省份甚至出现了电力供应过剩、弃电的局面
  • 中国的环保法规日趋严格,中国的碳交易体系在2018年1月已正式启动。这意味着,未来相较于采用电炉工艺的炼钢厂而言,以铁矿石为主原料的转炉炼钢厂的环保税负将越来越高
  • 对于中国钢铁行业而言,是否将转炉替换为电炉是一个两难的抉择,而转炉改电炉动力不足的重要原因之一,是中国大多数钢厂的高炉和转炉设备是在过去10-15年新建的现代化高效、节能设备,平均炉龄仅为8年左右,短期内将其替换为电炉将对钢铁生产企业产生巨大的经济负担,而且经济回报也是个未知数
  • 中国废钢供应量的不断上升迟早将会促成部分转炉被电炉所替代,而这主要取决于各地区废钢和电力的供应情况,不同地区的钢铁制造商应该酌情采取不同的策略
  • 从更长期而言,我们需要开发一种可以在铁矿石和废钢二者间灵活切换的突破性技术,以应对不同原料供应的波动以及不断变更的环保法规带来的挑战

钟首席代表表示,从废钢和电力供应角度而言,中国钢铁行业的确有提高电炉炼钢比例的空间,鉴于转炉使用废钢的比例可达30%,而电炉的比例则为100%,在未来数年里,在不大范围用电炉替换转炉的情况下,中国钢铁行业仍然有能力消化国内不断增加的废钢资源。从更长期而言,中国钢铁行业将需要找到一套解决方案,克服采用转炉和电弧炉炼钢的两难抉择。

  • 1

    I think that both the logistic aspect (supply/surplus scrap) and the strategic aspect (technological products) should be considered. Much of China's steel production is made of flat products for the automotive industry, the can industry and so on, and these cannot be manufactured by the EAF route. In this way, I think that China will continue as the flat products leader through BOF in addition to increasing EAF production with its own scrap. In this context, it is clear that although China will maintain the BOF production level, this percentage will decrease because they will increase the total production via modern EAF.

    avatartello abia2018-2-28 11:59:34Reply

  • 2

    Thank you for providing this useful insight.

    avatarworldsteel2018-3-2 10:20:48Reply

  • 3

    Please keep in mind that most of the EAFs in China use liquid iron, up to 85% of the total charge, so scrap is not such a big issue as it is for the western countries.

    avatarAntonio João Germano Candiota2018-3-2 21:02:58Reply

  • 4

    Thank you for your comment. Yes you’re right, China’s EAFs do charge a very high ratio of hot metal compared to the scrap input and in addition, the total capacity of installed EAFs in China is small compared to BOFs so it will have less influence on the country’s scrap consumption.

    avatarFrank Zhong2018-3-5 10:00:08Reply

  • 5

    In my opinion, first of all, we need to look at the infrastructure of the required power supply or the invention of a new method for supplying power to the companies and then go to the arc furnace. Thanks.

    avatarhedayat gholami2018-3-17 9:09:20Reply

  • 6

    Thank you for your input in the discussion, Hedayat Gholami. In China, most steel plants are modern because they were built in the past 10 to 15 years and already have very efficient power supply infrastructures; any improvement would be minimal.

    avatarFrank Zhong2018-3-19 9:57:42Reply

  • 7

    In my opinion, there is no reason to think that China will not do the same as Europeans and Americans did before them: switch route from BOF to EAF as soon as a huge surplus of scrap becomes available. It is true that Flats is not Longs, but even so, it is a question of scrap quality. Perhaps there will be some supply/demand imbalance for some time but it is hard for me to imagine ships of scrap coming from China into Europe in a stable way. Perhaps to Vietnam and nearby. We'll see anyway...

    avatarJesus Calleja2018-3-19 16:29:05Reply

  • 8

    The integral approach is also to consider the production and use of DRI. China has huge reserves of coal and coal gasification is a potential substitute for the lack of natural gas.

    avatarA Conejo2018-3-27 6:40:31Reply

  • 9

    You also need to consider that electricity in China is generated mainly from coal. You save energy using scrap in EAF but have to burn coal in the thermo power plant. I believe the future for China is to charge more and more scrap in the BOF. It maybe more economical and also more environmental friendly.

    avatarJosé carlos2018-3-29 4:24:27Reply

  • 10

    Thanks for your comment. Indeed, the environmental footprint should be evaluated from a life cycle point of view. And yes there is still room for Chinese steelmakers to increase the scrap charge ratio for BOFs.

    avatarFrank Zhong2018-4-3 13:28:21Reply

  • 11

    A very nice discussion and summary. Can we say that production cost and quality might be two constraints of EAF development? Which one do you think is more important? Or are there any other factors?

    avatarLi Zhaoling2018-5-11 3:52:15Reply

  • 12

    Thank you for your comments, Li Zhaoling. Indeed there is a cost and quality issue. The cost difference is heavily dependent on the price spread between iron and scrap for which it's hard to predict for the future. Quality wise, EAF technology has been proven reliable worldwide and many world leading steelmakers are using EAF to produce premium grades of steel products. However, there is a quality issue with the scrap. The quality of scrap is a critical factor here.

    avatarFrank Zhong2018-5-14 15:50:58Reply

  • 13

    "For the longer-term, there is a need to develop a breakthrough technology which can flexibly switch between iron ore and steel scrap to deal with the volatility in supply of different raw materials and changing environmental regulations." It is already there, is called Tenova FMF (FLEXIBLE MODULAR FURNACE). Can work either as an EAF or as a Converter. Few reference are already working.

    avatarCristian Cattalini2018-7-27 19:51:25Reply

  • 14

    thanks for these interesting insights. Question: are there also already figures on shares of EAF production in China after 2016? I am contributing to a blog which focuses on the availability/pricing of graphite electrodes and therefore is directly related to yours. If someone is interested, please have a look on. www.graphite-network.com

    avatarBenjamin Sarkoezy2018-8-1 8:24:47Reply

  • 15

    That China is the biggest source of raw materials for production of Graphite Electrodes, is a big advantage for the country. Nowadays, Graphite Electrode consumption contribute almost 20% of the conversion cost of crude steel through EAFs. If my information is correct, China has recently closed down about 100 million tons of steel making capacity that were highly polluting for the environment. These were mainly Induction Furnace facilities. If these shut-capacities have to be made-up again EAF steel making is a good option, because of its lower project costs and faster implementation compared to BF/BOFs. A huge country like China will probably not ignore its domestic scrap resources and would like to diversify its steel production technologies too.

    avatarAnanda Bhattacharjee2018-11-10 3:44:35Reply