Real world stories about innovators and innovative companies are an important way to learn and we place high value on them at Innovation Excellence. We are very pleased to begin a series of case studies on companies who have been curated by Hult International Business School and Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center) in their book Greenovate!
The book Greenovate! documents 53 case studies that are defined by “sustainable, green innovations” (or “green ovations”). Each profile combines business innovation with a synthesized concept of sustainability, from startups to leading global organizations. The next case study in this special Greenovate! case study series is:
BAOSTEEL – Steel Waste into Revenue Streams
A ten year project to design and implement an efficient recycling and reuse program for slag — the by-product of steel production.
A process — BSSF — to quickly cool and recycle steel slag that minimizes waste that falls on the production floor and eliminates the need to bury the waste in the ground for up to one year for cooling
BSSF eliminates the potential for buried slag to pollute soil and water. Higher recovery rates of iron ore from slag and removal of limestone from the process, which is traditionally used when slag is buried
In addition to reducing the potential environmental impact, the BSSF process saves 400,000 tons of iron ore and 533,000 tons of limestone per year for Baosteel
TACKLE THE ELEPHANT:
Baosteel, the 3rd largest steel producer globally, buried over 1.6 m tons of slag per year as part of a one-year cooling process that risked ground contamination
BIG BOLD STATEMENT:
Recognizing the need to improve efficiency and reduce its overall environmental impact, the firm set a goal to become a “world-class clean steel enterprise”
Recycling one ton of slag is equal to saving 250kg iron ore and 330kg limestone; moreover, one ton of molten slag contains heat energy equivalent to 60kg coal
Baosteel signed contracts with state and regional governments that set ambitious energy-saving and total pollutant goals
The process known as ”BSSF” raised new technical barriers, including the need to reduce explosion risk caused by sudden expansion of water during the quick cooling of scorching slag.
The slag problem touched multiple parts of the steel production process and the firm — coordinating frequent industrial trials and maintaining production schedules slowed the project.
REAL TESTING ENVIRONMENT:
The industrialization and optimization of BSSF technology requires experience from real world application, but Baosteel did not have enough projects to conduct meaningful tests
LONG TERM R&D INVESTMENT:
Baosteel invested in the BSSF project for 13 years, developing new technologies and slag preprocessing techniques to overcome the explosion risk and other barriers encountered.
A senior executive took control of the BSSF R&D project and secured direct responsibility for helping the project team coordinate efforts across the company.
Baosteel established a technology trade platform to work with other steel companies to test the processes and share knowledge across companies.
CO2 and SO2 emissions and dust caused by steel slag is totally eliminated, thus reducing the environmental impact of the steel plants.
The BSSF process improves the metal recovery rate by 30% and the break even for the equipment investment is as short as half a year.
In 2007 BSSF won the 2nd prize at the China National Invention Awards and the 1st prize at the International Innovation Expo held in Hamburg, Germany.
BSSF is now widely used by other steel companies in China, such as Masteel and Nanchang Steel, and was exported to JSW Steel in India.
Baosteel originally designed the BSSF slag process for the steel industry and is now exploring the potential application of the technology to other metallurgic industries.
image credits: baosteel.com; ixlcenter.com
Tyler McNally, Ronald Jonash & Dr. Hitendra Patel are co-authors of Greenovate! — Companies Innovating to Create a More Sustainable World and members of the leadership team at IXL CENTER, the Center for Innovation, Excellence & Leadership at Hult International Business School.