09.03.2020 - Bremanger, Norway

Purifying the smelting process

Elkem invests more than NOK 250 million in a new furnace at Bremanger to improve efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint.

"The project was initiated primarily to reduce NOₓ emission from the silicon process at furnace number 5 at the Bremanger plant. We will implement the same technology that has previously been installed at other furnaces at Elkem", says project manager Ragnhild Jensen at Elkem Technology.

Elkem Bremanger has been a cornerstone company in the village of Svelgen in the Sogn og Fjordane region on the west coast of Norway since 1928. Today the organisation manufactures metallurgic silicon-based products for the world market, for example Silgrain® which is used in the electronic and solar industry and Superseed®; one of the most powerful inoculants used in the iron foundry industry.

The furnace upgrade will reduce NOₓ emissions with up to 50%, the equivalent to 360 tonnes annually and 100,000 cars on the road. "To have a greener footprint from our production plants is crucial for future production", says Jensen.

The project also implies that the factory will have a new system for collection of process fume from the tapping area. Due to the new design of the furnace hood and stoking doors, the furnace will also have an improved collection of process gas from the furnace itself. "We look forward to seeing improvements in the inner environment as to significant reduction in silica dust exposure", says the project manager.

The furnace project has total capital expenditures of NOK 259 million, of which NOK 90 million is provided by the Norwegian NOₓ fund. According to Jensen the upgrade also increases the production capacity. "The new annual production will be 4,500 tonnes Silgrain feedstock", says Jensen. The final equipment installations and cold commissioning was done in December 2019, and the production started in January 2020.

Jensen, who has more than 20 years experience from Elkem, characterises the project as very complex. "We have changed parts and installed new equipment all the way from the bottom plate of the furnace and to the mid of the off-gas channel towards the filter. We are talking about a quite narrow work space and people have physically been working on top of each other. It's a real puzzle to assure that everyone completes their job at the right time without accidents. The safety has been the first priority", assures Jensen.

Plant manager Arne Werge-Olsen is very pleased with the project. "The upgrade of Furnace 5 will secure our continued specialisation strategy within silicon products, here at Elkem Bremanger. In addition, I am really glad that this will improve the work environment around the furnace, amongst other things reducing dust emissions. This is a very important upgrade", he says.

Facts about the project:

  • Totally more than 100,000 hours worked in the execution phase of the project
  • More than 4,000 work permits
  • Peak manning of 200 persons in the most intense weeks

This article was first published in Elkem's sustainability report 2019