Russian steelmaker PAO Severstal has put blast furnace No. 3 (BF-3) at the Cherepovets Steel Mill (part of Severstal’s Russian steel division) onto hot test mode. The new furnace has been named Cherepovchanka, its name having been chosen by local residents.

BF-3 has the capacity to produce more than 3Mt of pig iron per year and is the second-largest at the Cherepovets mill in terms of production volumes of cast iron, after Severyanka, the largest blast furnace in Europe.

Alexander Shevelev, Severstal's CEO, commented: "Building a new blast furnace at the Cherepovets steel mill has been our greatest investment project of the decade, with a total investment of over 24 billion rubles. Blast furnace No. 3 will increase our cast iron and steel output and guarantee stable operations of the Cherepovets steel mill during the first stage of further modernization works. In today’s volatile market, we are reliant on our own raw materials base. The combination of advanced engineering solutions used at blast furnace No. 3 will allow for a varied composition of raw materials loaded into the furnace, providing additional flexibility. Ultimately, this will help strengthen our cost leadership for liquid steel and increase our overall competitiveness, making Severstal an even more reliable partner for our clients. We maintain our focus on mitigating our environmental impact, and the use of the latest technologies at blast furnace No. 3, operated in line with best international practice, will contribute towards improved environmental production parameters.”

According to Severstal, blast furnace No. 3 is unique to Russia’s steel industry, with its profile allowing for 80% of the metal charge to be made up of iron ore pellets. Advanced backfill and temperature control systems at the top of the furnace guarantee flexibility in adjusting the furnace’s processing modes, enabling reduced coke consumption in cast iron smelting.

The furnace’s strong metal casing, combined with refractory materials and new generation cooling systems, has increased the facility’s working life before the need for capital repairs to 25 years. The design features shaftless air heaters, which allow for lower coke consumption, increasing the blast temperature. A modern coneless charging device, equipped with monitoring and control systems, will increase productivity while reducing fuel consumption and lowering emissions.

Most of the technological operations at BF-3 are automated, with a significant number of the IT developments owned by Severstal employees.

The key environmental advantage of the new furnace is its aspiration system, which removes dust from the air and workplaces. The residual dust content of the air after filtering is below 8 mg/m3, which corresponds to the level of the cleanest metallurgical enterprises in the world, it is claimed. The efficiency of blast furnace gas purification is 99.99%, and its air heaters guarantee lower CO content.

Air has been sampled for dust content throughout the production chain – from the transportation site, to the transfer of charge and fuel prior to feeding to the blast furnace, to the casthouse with closed holes for releasing cast iron and overflow sites. The specific emissions from blast furnace No. 3 are 53% lower than the total specific emissions of blast furnaces No. 1 and 2 combined.