Indian steel giant Tata Steel has confirmed plans to construct a new £15-million furnace at its South Yorkshire plant in the UK to enable it to tap into new market opportunities and develop innovative new products for the aerospace industry.
The vacuum induction melting (VIM) furnace at its Stocksbridge unit will enable the firm to increase its supply of high-purity steel to the aerospace industry and is expected to be in operation by 2015.
“Having our own manufacturing capability will greatly increase our scope for VIM sales. This is a clear signal to our customers that we are fully committed to the aerospace market for the long term,” said Mark Broxholme, managing director of Tata Speciality Steels.
VIM production involves melting and casting steel in an oxygen-free atmosphere, producing steel which is very clean with a low gas content.
The development will also lead to more jobs as the company said there would also be a minor increase in the number of people working at the site once the furnace was constructed.
Tata Speciality Steels will work with German metallurgical technology company SMS Mevac, a major supplier of vacuum steelmaking equipment, to build the VIM facility.
“I am very much looking forward to seeing the plant in full operation in 2015, satisfying the requirements of this demanding, high-end market,” said Michael Thiehofe, managing director at SMS Mevac.
Tata Steel UK is also hoping to build a power station at its Port Talbot works in Wales to replace old equipment.
The gas-fuelled power station is likely to take three years to build and is due to have a lifespan of 35 years.
According to local media reports, a proposal has been submitted to Neath Port Talbot Council which confirms Tata’s intention to apply to the planning inspectorate for development consent for the power station, which would be fuelled using gases generated as a by-product of the steel making process.
“The proposed development therefore represents an opportunity to significantly increase energy efficiency,” the report says.
Tata Steel is looking to install two boilers and two steam turbines connected to the existing blast furnace gas distribution network in order to receive gases through the pipe work.
The firm is looking to increase its power generation capacity at Port Talbot from 115.7MWe (Mega Watts Electrical) to 225MWe.
The European operations of Tata Steel, whose main steelmaking sites are in the UK and the Netherlands, comprise Europe’s second-largest steel producer.
It supplies steel and related services to construction, automotive, packaging, rail, lifting and excavating, energy and power, aerospace, among other industries worldwide.