ArcelorMittal unveils new energy-efficient boiler
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent December 17, 2012 5:10PM
Gil Sperling, right, chats with state senator Lonnie Randolph and John Seaman, left, during a tour of the 504 boiler project at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago Monday Dec. 17, 2012. Sperling is a senior advisor with the U.S. Department of Energy. Seaman is a engineering project manager with ArcelorMittal. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 17, 2012 9:30PM
EAST CHICAGO — ArcelorMittal officials Monday unveiled the new $63.2 million energy recovery and reuse boiler at its Indiana Harbor facility to local and U.S. officials, who praised the project for resulting in a more energy-efficient plant, creating jobs and boosting the Northwest Indiana economy.
“This is a prime example of what a private/government partnership can accomplish. It helped Northwest Indiana families emerge from the recent recession,” said Mark Lopez, representing U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, at the tour and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The U.S. Department of Energy awarded ArcelorMittal a matching grant of $31.6 million in November 2009 for the boiler project under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with ArcelorMittal paying the same amount. It was one of nine grants awarded by the department.
The project involved the installation of a boiler that uses wasted blast furnace gas to generate steam, which in turn produces electricity to help power the plant.
Company officials said not only has the steel maker been able to reduce its energy costs as a result of the project, but will reduce its carbon emissions by 340,000 tons annually, as well.
The project also: Generates 333,000 MWH of power annually, which is enough to power about 30,000 homes; saves the steel maker nearly $20 million in energy costs, which has the effect of lowering the production costs of steel by $5 per ton; and enhances the competitiveness of the plant, which directly employs about 6,000 people and supports another 26,800 indirect jobs, said Wendell Carter, vice president and general manager, ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor.
Carter said he expects the project to pay for itself in about 11/2 years.
“So far, we’ve done quite well regarding our investment,” Carter said.
The project, which Carter said was proposed by company employees, involved the construction of a new water system and modifications to the No. 5 Boilerhouse to add a high-efficiency boiler that practically eliminates flaring of blast furnace gas, according to a company release.
Gil Sperling, senior adviser in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said the design, construction and manufacturing of the equipment for the project, including the boiler, supported about 360 jobs while another 200 construction workers were used at the East Chicago site. He said everything was built in the United States.
Carter said the steel company didn’t add any employees as a result of the new boiler. He said current employees were trained in the new equipment, mostly on-site.
ArcelorMittal was one of nine recipients of the matching ARRA grants provided under an executive order signed by President Obama to strengthen America’s competitiveness in clean energy manufacturing.
“These grants will create jobs and help American industry become more competitive,” Sperling said.
He said in awarding the grants, the department looked at a project’s overall energy savings potential, return on investment, if it is domestically geared and whether it would become a model for all industry to look up to.
State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, said he hopes this project will serve as a catalyst to get other industries to follow suit.
“This is a shining example of being good neighbors and creating additional jobs,” Randolph said.