What's the best way for a high-energy-using manufacturer to cut energy costs? Use less. That's the strategy of North America's steel companies. This week the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), a leading trade group for steel producers, released a plan to dramatically reduce energy use in steelmaking. Entitled "Saving One Barrel of Oil per Ton -- A New Roadmap for Transformation of the Steelmaking Process," or SOBOT, it describes a long-term strategy designed to reduce energy intensity in steel production by identifying research in energy substitution, energy recovery and energy savings. The document will guide R&D over the next 10 to 15 years toward the 2025 target of producing steel using a barrel of oil (about 6 million BTU) per ton less than today's processes.
With energy representing 20% of the cost of making steel, the transformation of steelmaking processes needs to be considered, according to AISI.
"Energy savings of this type cannot be made by incremental changes, although they are often important enabling technologies," Lawrence W. Kavanagh, AISI's vice president of Manufacturing and Technology said during the announcement. "It will require radical approaches to future steelmaking processes to achieve the reductions in energy use contemplated by SOBOT."
Energy use per ton of steel shipped has been reduced by 23% since 1990, as previously reported by AISI, and steelmakers efforts today are always driving energy consumption closer to the limits of today's processes. "Although our energy efficiency since 1990 has outperformed Kyoto, we must do more," Andrew G. Sharkey, III president and CEO of AISI said. "SOBOT's goal will keep us firmly focused on a sustainable future."