Inductosmelt™ Reduction Furnace
EESTech’s patent pending design combination of plasma over induction for primary smelting is an automated process that will revolutionize the worlds foundry industry with market changing process capabilities, energy efficiencies and significantly reduced production costs.
The IRF is an industry disruptive technology that delivers a paradigm shift in how mineral oxides are smelted into base metals, reactive metals and alloys, including titanium, with up to 99% conversion rates of mineral-oxides into metals/alloys.
The ultra-high temperature plasma field of the IRF cracks the silica alumina matrix that encapsulates a high percentage of ores and metal-oxides normally not accessible, providing significant increases in metal unit yields.
The high-speed reduction provided by the ultra-high temperature plasma field enables continuous processing as opposed to slow batch smelting of traditional furnaces. Traditional methods of smelting consume vast amounts of energy holding molten materials at high temperatures while waiting for the oxides to reduce into metal.
The stirring action generated by the induction field ensures complete reduction of the smelting concentrate by circulating micro units of reductant and metal oxide through the metal bath providing physical contact between the particles. The stirring action produces even heating in the metal pool and promotes homogenous high-grade metals/alloys production.
The IRF is equipped with an induction heated tungsten decanting spout encased in high temperature refractory. The height of the decanting spout is adjustable, allowing the Master Control Unit (MCU) to control the molten metal level within the IRF. This key feature allows the IRF to smelt multiple grades of ores and concentrates with varying slag content.
An additional benefit of the IRF plasma fields ultra-high temperature is its ability to destroy potential hazardous compounds in the smelting concentrate and dramatically reduces or eliminates the production of noxious off-gases. This allows the IRF to meet stringent air emission standards where most smelting operations would be shut down.
The hybrid combination of plasma over induction provides the ability to process ores and concentrates with high slag contents by rapidly smelting the materials and separating the slag away from the produced metal units. Slag is maintained in a low viscosity state and continuously decanted from the upper side of the IRF while the molten metal units collect in the induction heated bottom section of the IRF. This hybrid combination of plasma over induction provides a highly-efficient continuous smelting process that can handle high slag loadings without inhibiting efficient production of metals.
An additional benefit of the IRF design is its unique multi-purpose smelting capability as a primary smelting platform that can easily transition from smelting one mineral oxide to another, including titanium and most other strategic metals.
The IRF is a fully automated process that can produce a spectrum of metal/alloy grades of consistent high quality at significantly lower prices than traditional primary smelting processes.
The IRF is a world’s first Plasma over Induction furnace comprising the integration of two well established technologies.
The strength of the IRF design is achieved through the application of uniquely configured, commercially available, robust industrial process equipment. Fully supported with process guarantees and warranties, underwritten by world leading manufacturers of advanced mineral processing equipment.
Each component supplier underwrites the performance warranties of their equipment as defined by the process flow and scope of works battery limits. Material handling and interface equipment have been selected and approved by each vendor to link all process components into a fully integrated turnkey operation.
EESTech has Collaborative Development and Deployment Agreements with;
Internationally renowned Inductotherm Group, who will exclusively manufacture and support the deployment of all IRF. Inductotherm, established in 1953 in New Jersey, has 38 manufacturing facilities located in 19 countries with over 35,000 operation systems deployed around the world. Positioning Inductotherm as the world’s largest integrated producer of induction furnaces and all related support services.
Tetronics for advanced plasma technologies, is a UK based Plasma research company established in 1964. Tetronics is a world leader in high temperature plasma technology. Plasma is a controllable, clean, ultra-high temperature, versatile heat source that does not involve combustion.
Both Inductotherm and Tetronics have committed their support for the deployment of the IRF,
With Inductotherm specifically stating; “the integration of these two well established furnace technologies (plasma and induction) will provide substantial benefits and efficiencies for the foundry industry. The IRF will have the unique ability to smelt and melt concentrates into primary metals and alloys at efficiency rates never seen before in the industry”.
And as stated by Dr. Tim Johnson of Tetronics, “the IRF will be greater than the sum of its parts”.
The IRF will deliver a transformational change in how the following metals/alloys are produced:
- Pig Iron
- Titanium, alloy blends
- Vanadium, titanium alloys.
As an example, when smelting chromite ore (Cr2O3) the IRF uses approximately 2000KW of energy for each ton of ferrochrome metal produced, compared to a traditional submerged-arc furnace that uses over 3,700KW to produce 1 ton of ferrochrome metal.
When smelting reactive metals such as titanium, the IRF is modified into a two stage Ti-IRF process. The Ti-IRF delivers superior performance over existing titanium production process that have relied on the highly inefficient, complex, multistage, and energy intensive Kroll process developed in the 1950’s.
The Ti-IRF will enable low-cost production of titanium metal via a two-stage scalable process using a modified IRF, making the Ti-IRF significantly less capital intensive than the Kroll process.
When smelting titanium, the Ti-IRF also takes advantage of an EESTech proprietary pyro-metallurgical formulation that utilises the inherent calorific value of the titanium dioxide to supplement energy requirements when blended with a reduction agent to significantly reduce the energy required for the production of titanium.