Purdue Calumet Delivers for U.S. Steel Canada


When the fuel-injection system of its blast furnace failed frequently, U.S. Steel Canada turned to Purdue University Calumet’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation for help.

As a result, the corporate steel giant avoided $8.5 million in projected annual expenses.

Extreme operational heat and environmental issues within the blast furnace made it difficult to measure, determine and predict gas-flow streams of the pulverized coal injection lances that comprise the fuel-injection system.

In response, Purdue Calumet engineers — including students who experienced academic distinction by using their knowledge in a real- world way — applied the cutting-edge capabilities of the CIVS.

The research center combines simulation and visualization technologies with high-performance computing to create a virtual-reality environment that helps business and industry solve problems, improve productivity and advance economic development.

Partnering with U.S. Steel engineers, the Purdue Calumet researchers used CIVS to apply computational fluid dynamics to create numerical simulations for analyzing and determining the cause of the fuel flow-related problem.

To simulate gas flow, coal-particle distribution and chemical reactions, the Purdue Calumet team employed CIVS technologies to create a three-dimensional model of the pulverized coal injection system.

It predicted velocity, temperature, pressure, combustion reaction, particle trajectories, volatile matter evolution from the particles and the particles’ ensuing burnout.

To identify simulation results, advanced virtual-reality visualization technology was developed. Parametric studies then were conducted to analyze results of the different operating conditions.

The CIVS technology generated detailed flow-stream data that previously had been difficult to measure.

That data revealed a 10 percent increase in the coal devolatization rate.

U.S Steel then implemented suggestions from the simulation. After doing so, injection system failures declined, downtime was reduced, and resource and monetary savings were achieved.

“This process change realized coke savings of 15 pounds per net tons hot metal that resulted in a yearly potential cost avoidance of $8.5 million at full production, using today’s spot market price for purchased coke,” said John D’Alessio, U.S. Steel Canada blast furnace engineering & technology manager.

Added Chenn Zhou, CIVS director and mechanical engineering professor: “We are very happy that CIVS was able to work with U.S. Steel to address its blast-furnace issues, which resulted not only in economic benefit, but also opportunities for our students to learn how to solve real-world problems. Such partnerships have made CIVS a useful resource for using advanced simulation and visualization technologies to provide cost-effective solutions.”

For more details about CIVS, visit webs.purduecal.edu/civs/.