An Innovative endeavour which fosters Research and Development in Green initiatives in the Iron and Steel Manufacturing Industry
Business Connect has been a great admirer of ventures with unique business models, breakthrough solutions, and impeccable leaders behind them. Here again, we are back with another top-notch tale of a rising brand in the steel industry, Nellikuru Innovations Private Limited, the first startup company in the field of research and development in iron and steel making in India under the new ‘Make in India Programme’.
When it comes to large organizations, there are numerous companies engaged in the research and development of steel plants. But for startups, very few companies are actively working on R&D. The sheer endeavour behind the inception of Nellikuru Innovations in 2016 was to inspire true inventors in this field to commercialize their innovations for the benefit of industry and mankind. Nellikuru Innovations addresses century-old problems existing in the industry, like the liquid hot metal insulation system, and provides a streamlined solution to maximize efficiency.
Meet the Man at the Helm
Sabukutty N Dominic is the MD of Nellikuru Innovations and has been perceived as a seasoned entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the steel industry. Through the course of voyage through the iron and steel industry, Sabu went through the different stages of a steel plant and had the opportunity to study different units, from the beginning of the process to the end result. His exposure and experience enabled him to develop an in-depth understanding of the industry and resolve trending issues.
Nellikuru Innovations offers a cost-effective solution to the Iron and Steel industries to improve Green ratings in the existing units. Currently, they work to reduce heat loss and CO2 emissions, and utilize the recovered heat to increase yield.
Here are- some questions answered about some Nellikuru products.
Q: In order to reduce the heat loss of liquid hot metal from Blast Furnaces to the Steel Converters, bigger integrated steel plants switched over to Torpedo Ladles from Open Top Ladles. It is the same across the globe. Can we reduce further heat loss in Torpedo Ladles or do you have any solutions to achieve the same?
A: To a certain extent, Torpedo ladles reduces the heat loss compared to open top ladles. However, there is direct heat loss through its mouth. Since there is hardly any metal jam formation in normal operation due to higher heat content, not many R&D projects have worked to reduce the heat loss from the Torpedo ladles. In higher capacity furnaces, a Torpedo ladle of 350-400MT capacity takes around 45-60 minutes to fill one ladle.
Since there is turbulence in the metal surface while filling the ladles, the heat loss is more during this time. Our product insulates the liquid metal from the bottom of the ladles, since we add our high temperature insulation material to the liquid metal when the ladles have around 7-10% metal in it. It completely insulates the metal from the starting point and reduces the heat loss.
Q: How can Nellikuru help steel plants to achieve lower emissions? Do you have any technology to reduce the emissions in Iron and Steel Plants.
A: Emissions are a part and parcel of any steel plant. Clean steel plants are good in capturing the emissions resulting as a result of metallurgical process. For example, the liquid metal comes out of a Blast Furnace or COREX at 1500 degree C, will have some dissolved elements. It can’t retain the same in the liquid metal, when the temperature drops to around 1400 degree C.
Take the graphite particles(carbon) for examples, which comes out of liquid metal as a result of corresponding drop in temperature and is visible to the naked eyes and can be seen as shining particles all around the plant. Modern steel plants use higher capacity suction units to capture the same. However, 100% capturing is not possible in any steel plant.
As the old adage says, it is better to use footwear rather than to carpet the entire road. Our higher temperature insulation material traps the emissions from the metal at its surface and gives a clear view of the metal level in the ladles. It reduces the graphite emissions from liquid hot metal. Moreover, it also reduces the temperature drop as a result of proper insulation, the emissions will also be less corresponding to the gain in temperature. The actual temperature gain depend on the plant lay out and holding time of the metal.
Q: Will it be economical to the steel plants of huge capacities (say, 10 million tons pa) to cover the entire
iron produced with your product?
A: Our product is an Iron based material and the additional steel produced from the iron present in our compound make it absolutely NIL COST to the user along with CO2 reduction. So yes, it is economical to use our product in huge steel plants.
Q: Have you tried your product in Torpedo Ladles in any bigger Steel Plants in India?
A: Yes. We got the opportunity to conduct the trials in JSW Tornagallu Plant. As a policy, JSW group is open to new ideas and looking for all the opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions and thrive for a greener steel plant. They collaborate with startups and encourage them to come up with more solutions to achieve the GreeCo guidelines. We take this opportunity to thank their Iron making team to take the challenge to reduce the heat loss in Torpedo Ladles. We are the first company in the world to successfully develop Torpedo Insulation material for liquid Hot Metal and it is successfully demonstrated in JSW.
Q: Is your product is helping steel plants to achieve the Green Ratings guidelines of CII?
A: Of course. There are various R&D initiatives across the globe to reduce the CO2 emissions in Iron and Steel Industries. Hydrogen steel making is one such promising technologies. So far, it is not commercially popular. However, in the existing steel plants, small incremental improvements to reduce the heat loss by even 10 degree C are in line with Green initiatives of CII.
Q: If so, have you approached other steel plants to use your product as it reduces the CO2 emissions, though it is a smaller amount?
A: So far no. We will approach other steel plants soon.
Q. Can it be used in Open Top ladles of liquid Hot Metal?
A: Yes. In open top ladles, there will be yield improvement too. There will not be any ladle jamming at all. Ladle can be used to its full capacity throughout its campaign. It will also reduce the ladle repair as there will not be any ring jam in the ladle.
Unique Value Propositions
Our product traps the graphite particles and other emissions that are released from the liquid hot metal, and thus help reduce pollution. The “KISH” formation, which is made up of fine metallic iron particles mixed with graphite and other foreign particles like sand transported by the runners and the irreversible remains traditional ladle covering compounds, is lessened.
It further enhances the working environment. The product almost eliminates the fugitive emissions from the ladle. It directly improves the metal yield as well by retaining a part of the carbon dissolved in the metal as a result of the lesser drop in temperature. The fugitive emissions from the ladle are virtually eliminated. By keeping some of the carbon dissolved in the metal after the temperature drops, also directly increases the metal yield.
Industry Evolutions Over the Years
The traditional steel making process, in general, follows a fixed route, and is apprehensive to change. While alternate routes of steel making are slowly picking up pace, there is tremendous potential to increase the efficiency of the current traditional routes as well. With a focus on using less rich ores and reducing the carbon footprint being the need of the hour, steelmaking too must keep up with the global demands and become more adept.
Nellikuru’s Accomplishments and Future Outlook
When asked what noteworthy accomplishments his business had made, Sabu said that they are most proud of being recognised for their innovative concept and creative approach. What could be more rewarding than obtaining profitable business deals through wordof-mouth advertising that amply demonstrates the company’s entry into the market.
For the future, Nellikuru Innovations plans to reach out to new market segments and approach new customers.
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