Blast furnace 2 fired up again

The modernization work on BF2 in Duisburg-Schwelgern went on for three months – a massive project for everyone involved – and now the system has been back online since mid-October.

A peek into the unfinished cooling system of the blast furnace.

An impenetrable thicket of equipment wove in and out of Europe’s largest blast furnace, blast furnace 2 in Duisburg-­Schwelgern, Germany. Employees milled, hammered, drilled, welded, and laid bricks day and night, around the clock. For three months, the site was as busy as an anthill. Around 1,100 employees from 100 partner companies in Germany and abroad worked at the massive construction site every day. A 30-person construction committee held countless meetings to coordinate the minute details of the €200 million relining, while the 300 employees at the blast furnace in Schwelgern worked to keep the massive construction project running smoothly. On October 18, the employees in the 10,000-square-meter container village built specifically for the relining process took a deep breath as blast furnace 2 finally went back online.

The blast furnace team had in fact completed a task of epic proportions. “The relining process involved refitting the core unit, as well as major repair work on the auxiliary units,” explains Klaus Petig, who headed up the construction project. “In addition, the cooling system was modernized, the cast house was renovated, and the hot blast stoves, the gas cleaning system, the slag granulator, and the expansion turbine were repaired.” At the same time, Steel Europe also conducted modernization work on the neighboring continuous caster 1 in Duisburg-Beeckerwerth, Germany. “This work had to be carried out while the blast furnace was offline,” says Petig. As part of this modernization project, the company completely replaced the casting machine itself and invested in a new ladle turret and a tundish, including car.

“This is an investment in the future, and a good sign of things to come for the Duisburg location and our employees.”

HERBERT EICHELKRAUT, Head of Production

“This modernization work not only ensures the continued profitability of the Duisburg location, it also increases the efficiency of our systems and the quality of our product portfolio,” says Head of Production Herbert Eichelkraut. This type of modernization work is not at all unusual. “Both systems have been in operation for a very long time and were in urgent need of modernization.” As is stands, the continuous caster was commissioned in 1985, and blast furnace 2 was first fired up in 1993.

The relining that took place in 2014 is a clear response to increased competition and an acknowledgment of the state of the industry in Germany. “This is an investment in the future and a good sign of things to come for the Duisburg location and our employees,” says Eichelkraut.