Hyundai steels itself for a cleaner future
Updated On: Oct 05 2011 10:37:29 PM EDT
Steelmakers are known to be one of the worst polluters in manufacturing, but South Korea's newest plant claims it is designed to go green.
Hyundai Steel's Dangjin plant, which sits an hour and a half south of Seoul on the west coast, is the youngest steel plant in the world and has adopted new technologies to ensure it stand out from others.
By simply enclosing storage and transport routes for raw material, they are able to prevent dust particles from entering the surrounding areas.
The facility, which includes 35 kilometers (21 miles) of conveyor belts fully enclosed and state-of-the-art storage domes, cost Hyundai Steel roughly $5.5 billion to build. The two blast furnaces produce eight million tons of steel a year.
It is no small investment, but the steelmaker believes it will earn its way back in no time.
"With the encapsulated storage system, we minimize loss of raw material so that may be $20 million a year (that we are saving)," said Hyundai Steel's senior executive vice president Cho Won-suk.
Other steelmakers lose roughly 0.5 percent in raw materials annually by keeping them in the open, subjecting the material to rain and wind, according to Hyundai.
The idea is simple but conventional players elsewhere see it as a large investment that would require a new layout for the steel plant.
Hyundai's Dangjin plant, which blew in its blast furnace at the beginning of last year, was designed to accommodate the green system from the beginning.
Dangjin also boasts its recycling byproducts emitted during the process of burning and melting raw materials. The company says it recycles 100 percent of its byproducts which supplies 80 percent of the operation energy at the plant.
"The byproduct gas contains energy and has some value. For example, it contains carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane, so the byproduct gas can be utilized for heating up furnaces in the plant," vice president Cho said.
To make sure Hyundai is meeting its standards as a green steelmaker, it monitors its emission output around the clock which is not only reported to the government but is also open to the public.
The steelmaker keeps its pollution levels below half of the government's regulations, according to Hyundai's technical research center manager, Park Eung-yeul.
Its tight relationship with its sister companies, Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Construction, is also enhancing its efforts to become more green.
Not only does Hyundai Steel supply car parts to Hyundai Motor, the old cars at the end of their cycle come back to the steelmaker as scrap metal to be melted down and used once again. The rougher steel produced from scrap metal can then be used at construction sites.
Despite these efforts, tackling CO2 emissions remains an ongoing challenge.
But the company's dedicated task force team continue the drive towards producing environmentally-friendly energy and removing the obstacles in the way of even cleaner steel production.
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