Severstal honored for blast furnace technology

DEARBORN – Severstal North America, one of the largest U.S.-based flat-rolled steel producers, was selected as the Gold Medal winner of the 2012 Association for Iron and Steel Technology Reliability Achievement Award.

The award — open to all North American iron and steel producers — recognizes an individual project that has had significant impact on operational reliability.

Severstal Dearborn’s ironmaking team, led by blast furnace technologists Charles Copeland and Stuart Street, focused on improving blast furnace tuyere life. Industry-wide, a tuyere failure is accompanied by furnace instability, increased costs, lost productivity and increased safety and environmental risks.

“This project was a great example of teamwork and why practical engineering is still an effective tool for improving reliability,” Street said. “Our team developed considerable skills throughout the process, and are looking forward to the challenge of applying them on other projects.

“We appreciate the honor the AIST has awarded our team, and look forward to sharing our experience with our industry peers in the near future.”

Failure analysis indicated two approaches to improving tuyere life, a redesign of the tuyere and a modified operating environment. Since undertaking the project, tuyere life at Severstal Dearborn has improved by 96 percent resulting in millions of dollars in savings. A tuyere is the device that allows heated, oxygen-enriched air to be blown into the combustion raceway of a blast furnace during the steelmaking process.

“The Reliability Achievement Award illustrates the necessity, and the rewards, of a commitment to continuous improvement,” said Brian J. Bliss, AIST general manager of technology services. “The members of the AIST Maintenance & Reliability Technology Committee recognized the dedication of the Severstal team in developing a practical solution that resulted in immediate and impressive results.”

The Severstal team will be presented with its award on Dec. 6.

AIST is a non-profit organization serving the steel industry with more than 15,000 individual members from 70 countries. The organization is recognized as a global leader in networking, education and sustainability programs for advancing iron and steel technology. Its mission is to advance the technical development, production, processing and application of iron and steel.

For more information on the award, go to the AIST website,