Energy Efficiency in Industrial Furnaces

5 July 2023

Industrial furnaces in the iron and steel industry are primarily used for thermal processes such as annealing, hardening, tempering, normalizing, soft annealing, stress relief annealing, cementation, nitration, tempering, and drying, which are essential for hot forming. Depending on their intended use, industrial furnaces can vary significantly in type, size, and capacity. In determining the furnace type, parameters such as the heating time of the materials to be heated, the geometric structure and chemical composition of the materials, the quantity, the need for a protective atmosphere, and economic operating conditions are taken into account. The concept of effective energy utilization has been gaining importance worldwide through studies and findings. Energy efficiency, which is an indicator of effective energy use, not only forms the basis for the quantitative analysis of the devices used but also indirectly affects phenomena such as air pollution and greenhouse gases. According to a report published by the International Energy Agency, CO2 emissions from energy production are expected to increase by 49% by 2030 compared to 2005. In this context, energy efficiency also contributes to controlling emissions through its positive impact on energy production.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlights the need for significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a probability of less than 50% of global warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. If this goal is achieved, it is believed that the climate changes caused by a 2°C increase can be addressed with acceptable social and economic costs. In this regard, all energy-consuming sectors should be evaluated to identify energy efficiency measures that can help achieve the proposed targets by reducing energy demand and CO2 emissions. A suitable approach is to assess the processes in the relevant sectors and determine the possibilities for reducing their energy consumption. The iron and steel sector is one of the highest energy-consuming sectors globally, with an annual energy consumption of approximately 24 EJ, accounting for approximately 5% of the recorded global energy consumption. Approximately 30% of the fuels used in the industrial sector are consumed by furnaces, and industrial furnaces account for 10% of the industrial electricity demand. Academic studies on industrial furnaces have concluded that there is a potential for efficiency improvement ranging from 10% to 40%, depending on the sector and application. In such a sector with significant global potential, many steps can be taken to increase efficiency and sustainability in the pursuit of green agreements. One of these steps is the concept of digital twins, which has started to be investigated in industrial furnaces.


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