PIL recently completed a 4-year research project on water systems optimisation. ‘Reffiplant’ – which stands for ‘efficient use of resources in steel plants through process integration’. Funded by the European Union’s Research for Coal & Steel, this project involved 3 industrial partners and 3 consulting partners represented by parties from the UK, Italy and Sweden.
In the past, water has been assumed to be a limitless low-cost resource. However, there is now increasing awareness of the danger to the environment caused by the over-extraction of water. The imposition of ever-stricter discharge regulations has driven up effluent treatment costs, requiring capital expenditure with little or no productive return.
PIL teamed up with Tata Steel’s Scunthorpe Integrated Steel Plant and to work on the development of process integration solutions for the water network of integrated steelmaking industry, ie. recycling, reuse, and treatment of waste water. In particular, PIL developed models for key unit operation, formulated optimisation framework and adopted final solutions as per the practical constraints and ease of implementation. PIL also incorporated the project’s research into its software tool, Water-int, PIL’s software tool for the design of water systems in the process industries. As a result, Reffiplant achieved high-quality results leading to better and more efficient technology solutions. The solutions and methodology are highly applicable to other industrial sites and PIL is committed to continual development of water treatment capabilities.