A ‘BRACELET’ of sensors that can monitor in real time the composition and electrical conductivity of steel as it is being cooled has been developed by researchers.
An international team led by the University of Bath, UK has received a €1.4m (US$1.6m) grant from Horizon 2020, the EU’s research funding council, to develop the laboratory prototype into an industrial tool for steel making.
The “Shell-Thick” project will develop an induction tomography system, which forms a contactless bracelet around the billet of molten steel and takes continuous measurements as the steel cools during the continuous casting process. The bracelet builds a structural composition image of the steel from the collected data and is able to detect any defects or fails before the steel solidifies.
The researchers say that by allowing the industry to monitor and alter the cooling process using the bracelet technique, this will improve the quality of the steel produced, and lead to improved productivity and cost effectiveness.
Manuch Soleimani, associate professor of electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Bath, commented on the “desperate state” of the EU and UK steel industries, in particular the inability of Tata Steelworks to compete with the highly-subsidised steel industries in China. He hopes the technology can used to help the UK/EU steel industry become more competitive with higher-quality steel.
“This is an exciting and yet very challenging project that will have a great impact in helping in the competitive production of high quality steel, which is very important for the sustainable future of the UK and European steel industry,” said Soleimani.
The team says the non-invasive tomography technique can be used for a number of other applications including medical diagnostics, geophysical exploration and civil engineering.
The team has already started the project of scaling the bracelet technology for industrial use, and expects completion by 2019.
Speaking with The Chemical Engineer, Soleimani gave an update on the current status of the project. He said, “The project will move to [an] industry-scale product during these three years. Industry-scale systems will be built and tested during this project. Early prototypes are already being done.”
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