In the Finex process, fine iron ore is charged at the top of a cascade of fluidized-bed reactors where it is heated and reduced to direct-reduced iron (DRI) by means of a reduction gas – derived from the gasification of the coal – that flows in the counter-current direction to the ore. The DRI fines are processed to hot-compacted iron, transferred to a charging bin positioned above the melter gasifier and then charged into the melter gasifier, where melting takes place. The tapped product – liquid hot metal – is equivalent in quality to the hot metal produced in a blast furnace or Corex plant.
The unique characteristics of the Finex process and its ability to use low-cost raw materials mean that both capital investment and production costs are much lower than in the blast furnace route. A 1.5-million-ton-per-year Finex plant can produce hot metal more cost effectively than a modern three-million-ton-per-year blast furnace. When oxygen and power plants are included in the comparison, the capital and operating costs of a Finex plant are approximately 20% and 15% lower, respectively, than in the blast furnace route.
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Fig.1- MERIM plant layout
Fig.2- Briquetting plant at Ilva, Italy