ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Kerala-In the Same Grooves

Most DR plants are located in the developing countries. However, all the viable process technologies, except two (HyL and TDR), have originated in the developed capitalist countries. The TDR (TISCO Direct Reduction) process was developed by TISCO and is being commercialised in the joint sector R and D in sponge iron making in India began at the National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML) and the universities. The NML set up an indirectly heated vertical retort coal based pilot plant in the early seventies. This was however a sad failure and that prompted the government to seek foreign collaboration. TISCO's rotary kiln DR pilot plant went into operation in the last quarter of 1974. The decision to commercialise the process was taken in early 1981. While TISCO's pilot plant trials were producing encouraging results, the government decided to set up a demonstration plant with UNIDO assistance in collaboration with Lurgi Chemie of West Germany for the process technology (SL/RN process). This plant was commissioned in 1980, In a technical evaluation it was averred that TISCO's pilot plant did not have a proper gas sealing system for control of the reducing atmosphere or a suitable continuous weigh feeding system. Lurgi's SL/RN process and system was declared technologically superior. Further, it was regarded as not economically sound to conduct trials with many different sets of raw materials at the demonstration scale. Also, for R and D purposes it was necessary to have a greater flexibility in changing the operating parameters of the process. So it was decided to set up a rotary kiln pilot plant, also supplied by Lurgi Chemie. The two plants are merely testing the suitability of different sets of raw materials for sponge iron making by the Lurgi process. Neither Sponge Iron India Ltd (SIIL), the operating company for the demonstration plant, nor the SAIL R and D Centre nor MECON has acquired the capability to scale up the plant. In fact, Lurgi Chemie can file for patent infringement if SAIL were to independently set up a commercial scale plant based on its design. All the sponge iron plants that have started commercial production or are likely to start production (except the IPITATA plant based on the TDR process) have foreign collaborations

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