11.03.2021

Interesting R&D and digitalisation projects

In my second trainee period at Elkem Thamshavn I got the opportunity to work as a project leader in two digitalization projects. In my third and current trainee period, I’m working at Elkem Fiskaa in Kristiansand with project management and participation in both R&D projects and local plant projects.

This blog post has been written by our trainee Egil Holm. 

In my second trainee period at Elkem Thamshavn I got the opportunity to work as a project leader in two digitalization projects, DigiSize and DigiMoist, with the aim of installing new sensors and implementing furnace control strategies based on the sensor data.

In the DigiSize project, a system consisting of a camera and a computer with machine vision software is used to analyze the particle size distribution (PSD) of raw materials going into the day bins. This information can be used to compensate for size variations in the furnace recipe to ensure a stable silicon yield.

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Picture: The DigiSize camera above a conveyor belt where raw materials are fed into the day silos. The camera was calibrated through manual sample taking, sieving, weighing of raw material particles and comparison of lab results and images from the camera.

The moisture content in raw materials is also an important input factor in furnace control. This was investigated in the DigiMoist project, where a near infrared (NIR) sensor for wood chips was installed. The sensor was calibrated and verified in a sample taking campaign, through lab analysis of manual samples and comparison with sensor data. A NIR sensor for coal was also installed.

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Picture: The two NIR sensors which were installed in the DigiMoist project at Thamshavn.

I got to know many great people at Elkem Thamshavn, who I learned a lot from during the 8 months as a trainee at the plant. Thank you to everyone at the plant, especially the IT team (you know who you are), for a nice trainee period :) I would really recommend future trainees to spend a period at Thamshavn, or at very least to visit the plant!   

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In my spare time during the trainee period at Thamshavn I often travelled to Folldal to visit my family, since it was only a 3-hour drive from Trondheim. The image above shows the beautiful view of Rondane last autumn.

In my current trainee period, and also my last, I’m working in Elkem Technology at the Process Development department in Kristiansand. My main tasks and responsibilities are within project management and participation in both R&D projects and local plant projects, such as Smart Furnace, Advanced Carbon Control, COGNITWIN, DigiSize and IR camera technology in general. I recently participated in testing and calibration of an IR camera for surveillance of ladle pre-heating temperatures at Elkem Rana.

I’m looking forward to continue the work with interesting R&D-and digitalization projects in Elkem!