The steel industry is one of the most energy-intensive sectors, as it requires a great amount of resources and produces a considerable quantity of by-products, with not negligible environmental impact. Therefore, the main challenge of steelworks consists in improving sustainability and reducing carbon footprint of the production process, by ensuring the required quality of final products. In this context, the reuse and recycling of by-products can play a key role in preventing their landfilling and waste of valuable products, reducing the exploitation of primary raw materials, decreasing CO2 emissions, and supporting the implementation of the Circular Economy concept. In particular, one of the main by-products is slag, which can be used as a potentially valuable source of secondary raw materials, leading to a substantial reduction of natural resources usage and related costs.
This paper concerns part of the work developed inside the EU-funded project entitled “Optimising slag reuse and recycling in electric steelmaking at optimum metallurgical performance through on-line characterization devices and intelligent decision support system – iSlag”. The main focus of this project is the valorisation of slags produced in the electric steelmaking route, by defining good practices, investigating new recycling paths, and promoting industrial symbiosis solutions. In this paper, the adaptation and the improvement of a previously developed Aspen Plus® simulation model are presented to obtain an accurate prediction of slag features. In particular, the model estimates amount and composition of slags produced in the primary and the secondary steelmaking processes, and it allows simulating different case scenarios including usual and unusual conditions, for instance, process operating conditions, raw materials compositions, steel families to be produced. In addition to slag features, product compositions and environmental and energy impacts can be monitored with the model.