The refurbishment of a major lime-making kiln at Tata Steel’s Shapfell site in Cumbria, UK, intends to allow for the more efficient and sustainable supply of critical steelmaking material to the Port Talbot steelworks.

The £4 million investment to reline Shapfell’s Kiln 4 took ten months to complete and allowed it to start producing again after being mothballed since 2016. Over a 12 year period, Kiln 4 will produce nearly 1.5Mt of calcium-rich lime products.

The kiln is lit using new technology in conjunction with a company called Secatherm. A hot gas blower system has been installed, which aims to give increased control while simultaneously providing both reduced and cleaner emissions. New technology, including airflow monitoring, is hoped to allow Tata Steel to understand and control the combustion and energy efficiency of the kiln to save on overall energy use and costs.

“This investment has led to a crucial upgrade for the site.''

John Baird, Shapfell’s operations manager

John Baird, Shapfell’s Operations Manager, said: “This investment has led to a crucial upgrade for the site. This particular kiln had been mothballed for several years, but we had an opportunity to bring it back on stream to cover production as another kiln comes to the end of its normal lifespan, while also using new technology which means we’re being more sustainable and cost-effective. It’s great to see capital invested in the site to help us keep operations moving and continue supporting jobs and innovation here in Cumbria – it’s been a perfect opportunity to bring some of our talented team through to see a rare kiln refurbishment and share this knowledge for future relines.”

Baird added: “We also took the opportunity to complete some virtual reality work inside the kiln before it was heated up again which will be used to train operators in complete safety in the future.”

Tata Steel UK has the ambition to produce net-zero steel by 2050 and to have reduced 30% of CO² emissions by 2030, with the vast majority of that work being directed towards South Wales, where the company’s largest operational site is.