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New £4 million investment in Shapfell kiln boosts energy efficiency in steel supply chain

Added: 10th February 2022 by Tata Steel

The refurbishment of a major lime-making kiln at Tata Steel’s Shapfell site in Cumbria, UK, will allow for the more efficient and sustainable supply of critical steelmaking material to the Port Talbot steelworks.

Tata Steel manufactures lime at its Cumbrian facility from UK-quarried limestone. Lime is used to improve the quality of steel as well as removing impurities during steelmaking.

The £4 million investment to reline Shapfell’s Kiln 4 took ten months to complete and allowed it to start producing again after being mothballed since 2016. Over a 12-year period, Kiln 4 will produce nearly 1.5 million tonnes of calcium-rich lime products.

The kiln is lit using new technology in conjunction with a company called Secatherm. A hot gas blower system - instead of traditional wood – which is used to give increased control while at the same time providing both reduced and cleaner emissions has been installed. New technology, including airflow monitoring, will allow Tata Steel to understand and control the combustion and energy efficiency of the kiln to save on overall energy use and costs.

John Baird, Shapfell’s Operations Manager, said: “This investment has led to a crucial upgrade for the site. This particular kiln had been mothballed for several years, but we had an opportunity to bring it back on stream to cover production as another kiln comes to the end of its normal lifespan, while also using new technology which means we’re being more sustainable and cost-effective. It’s great to see capital invested in the site to help us keep operations moving and continue supporting jobs and innovation here in Cumbria – it’s been a perfect opportunity to bring some of our talented team through to see a rare kiln refurbishment and share this knowledge for future relines.”

And he added: “We also took the opportunity to complete some virtual reality work inside the kiln before it was heated up again which will be used to train operators in complete safety in the future.”

Tata Steel in the UK has the ambition to produce net-zero steel by 2050 at the latest and to have reduced 30% of CO2 emissions by 2030. The vast majority of that work will need to happen in South Wales where the company’s largest operational site is. Tata Steel is  developing detailed plans for this transition to future steelmaking based on low CO2 technologies and is close to knowing which will best help achieve its ambitions.

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