Germany: Steel Meets Refractory

Steelworks and refractories producers rated the first industry dialogue in Koblenz/DE as a complete success. Every third steelworks, a large part of the refractories industry supplying the steel industry as well as various research institutes had taken up the invitation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the German State of Rhineland Palatinate to revitalize the dialogue between the steel and refractories industries. The event was held in cooperation with the Association of the German Refractories Industry (VDFFI), the European Centre for Refractories (ECREF), and the VDFFI Chairman. Thomas Seger, RHI Magnesita, was able to welcome 40 company and institute representatives in the Rhine-Mosel Hall in Koblenz.

State Secretary Daniela Schmitt from the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Mainz opened the event and emphasized the importance of the ceramics and refractories industries for Rhineland-Palatinate. She highlighted the importance of Höhr-Grenzhausen as a centre for industry with the hotspot European Centre for Refractories. “Dialogue and networking of economic players is a key factor for successful innovations, and accordingly for investment, employment and competitiveness. Enabling and strengthening technical and scientific exchange between the steel and refractories industries along the common value creation chain is very worthy of support,“ said State Secretary Daniela Schmitt.

In the subsequently presented papers and discussions, the subjects included how steel production can become more competitive and meet requirements to achieve the climate goals, and therefore how with innovations and research, steel production can become more environmentally friendly, more energy-efficient, safer and therefore cheaper. The guest speakers also spoke about the challenges of decarbonization for society and industry. Dr Reinhard Fandrich, WTZ Management Oberhausen, spoke about the development of steel production in Germany and Europe in view of the climate protection goals 2050. The possible technologies and the maturity of their development were also presented. Peter Liszio, KSB Kokereibetriebsgesellschaft Schwelgern, widened the horizon of the attendees with his paper “German Coke Production between the Conflicting Priorities of Globalization and Decarbonation” before Kai Schwickert, Steuler-KCH GmbH, Höhr-Grenzhausen, addressed “Refractory Lining Concepts for the Steel Industry” in respect of resource efficiency and climate change.

In the concluding discussion, the attendees expressed their appreciation of the initiative and emphasized the importance of such forums. In the view of all attendees, with this event format, the technical dialogue between the steel and refractories industries can in future be advanced to the benefit of Germany as a centre of industry and the competitiveness of these energy-intensive industries. In his closing remarks, Undersecretary Andreas Tschauder underlined the willingness of Rhineland-Palatinate’s Ministry of Economic Affairs to continue supporting the industry dialogue “Steel Meets Refractories”.

The event was rounded off the day after with a tour of Steuler-KCH GmbH at its Höhr-Grenzhausen plant. Here, the attendees were able to see that Steuler is investing in the future at its German base. In Höhr-Grenzhausen, a new, high-capacity tunnel kiln is being built. In addition, the preparation, pressing facilities, storage areas and packaging lines are being thoroughly overhauled and updated. Especially for the attendees from the steel industry, the insight into operational practice of a refractories producer was hugely interesting.

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