Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Hons.)


Department of Mechanical Engineering


The modem, highly competitive business of producing low cost, premium quality iron via the blast furnace route requires precise process control and a thorough understanding of the key operational variables. Much of the understanding of the factors influencing the process can only be obtained from measuring and testing on each individual furnace. This is particularly the case with regard to the raw materials charging system, as local factors including raw material specification and specific equipment design greatly influence the process. When BHP Steel Flat Products Division embarked on the massive project of adding a new blast furnace to the Port Kembla Steelworks a decision was made to ensure the plant would begin operations only after it was thoroughly understood. In keeping with this approach, a significant program of testing was undertaken on the new No.6 Blast Furnace charging system. This thesis details the work done, the results gained and the application of the information on the now operating plant. As the ultimate purpose of the blast furnace charging system is to enable the raw materials to be placed inside the furnace accurately and consistently in a predictable and controlled way, the aim of the test work undertaken on the charging system was to build the understanding necessary to allow the plant to be set up to achieve the desired burden distribution on the stockline. The testing covered the raw materials handling system from the point where the material is first diverted to No.6 Blast Furnace all the way to the inside of the furnace on the burden surface. The information was used to characterise individual pieces of equipment and the systems which together are the charging system. The furnace operation since the original blow-in in June 1996 has been remarkably smooth, with the furnace reaching the uprating targets comfortably. The excellent progress made during the uprating and the consequent stable operation is significantly attributable to the extensive work done as part of the charging system design and commissioning to understand and control raw material size segregation.