The Center of Excellence for Coal and Coke has already served the Company for ten years
Some time ago we published in Ocel východu an article about the laboratory for refractory materials. This article presents another specialized workplace of our researchers - the Center of Excellence for Coal and Coke. Its construction started in 2005 and the former General Manager Research and Development USSE Frederick Mannion and Division Manager Primary Mark Atkinson deserve great merit for its creation. The laboratory serves for testing coal and coke, and the first testing was done there on February 18, 2006.
The furnace with a movable wall is one of the pillars of this workplace. "It was imported for us dismantled from the USA. They had used it before at the National Steel Company and it was acquired by the United States Steel Corporation in 2005. At first nobody believed that it would be successful. The documentation was missing but we managed to complete it with the colleagues from the Protected Shop. We also remade the power supply so that it complies with our standards," Zlatica Machajová, Specialist and at the same time Head of the Center of Excellence for Coal and Coke, explains the circumstances of the furnace re-commissioning. The equipment simulates coking processes; it pushes out 270 kilograms of coke from a 350 kg coal charge. The laboratory also performs strength, sorting and abrasion tests, as well as examining the coal grinding properties; however, the most important is the coke strength and reactivity test. It is very important for the blast furnace operators to know these parameters in order to adjust the coal injection into the furnace. Rapid tests with charges weighing up to 13 kilograms are performed in the second - carbonization furnace. However there are many other testing facilities at the laboratory, and associated chemical analyses of samples are carried out by USSK subsidiary Labortest.
In addition to the blast furnace operators, requests are also submitted by other organizational units of our Company and in some cases also by external companies. As Z. Machajová says, the laboratory services are most frequently used by the so-called coal team made up of specialists from Research, Purchasing, and the Cokery.
Over the first ten years the colleagues from the Center of Excellence for Coal and Coke processed samples from almost all world deposits, not only for the Cokery Division but also for the Blast Furnaces and Power Engineering Divisions. So they are perfectly aware of the quality of coal from various locations, as well as how it varies. "Coal from Australia, the USA, Canada, but also Mozambique is of the best quality in terms of coking properties. We test samples from all over the world so as not to be dependent on one supplier or coal type. Then we will not be caught unprepared in case of supply failures or changes in prices of these commodities," explains Z. Machajová. She adds that in the current situation they deal with a lot of research projects aimed at identification of substitutes for coal mixtures in order to minimize costs of purchasing strategic raw materials and maximize the service life of coking batteries. Two such additions saving financial resources and not reducing the quality of coke are for example lignite or waste from refineries. She also appreciates the effective cooperation with the Strategic Raw Materials Purchasing Department under the leadership of General Manager Scott Vogel, Director Carbon and Coal Purchases Marek Blaško or Ľudovít Kosnáč from the Cokery Division when implementing the new coal compositions or untraditional types of raw materials in coal charges.
In addition to Laboratory Manager Z. Machajová, three more colleagues with several years' experience also work at the Center of Excellence for Coal and Coke. These colleagues are Peter Nižník, Radoslav Dudáš, and Igor Kopanica. Z. Machajová highly appreciates their work as they contribute to the success of the whole laboratory team.