|Workers produce molten metal using POSCO's FINEX technology at a steel mill in this file photo. The steelmaker has produced 20 million tons of molten metal using this technology. / Courtesy of POSCO|
By Yoon Sung-won
POSCO has produced more than 20 million tons of molten metal using its unique "FINEX" iron manufacturing process, the company said Thursday.
Produced over the last 10 years, the 20 million tons of molten metal can make 20 million mid-sized cars.
"As a steelmaker with less than 50 years of history, POSCO has successfully realized the innovative steelmaking technology, which even overtook countries with over 100 years of steelmaking experience," POSCO's new steelmaking technology unit official Lee Sang-ho said.
Smelting furnaces based on the FINEX technology use iron ore and bituminous coal in powder form to produce molten metal, without a preliminary stage to process the raw materials. For this reason, the steelmaker can save up to 80 percent of capital investment and manufacturing costs compared to other furnaces, according to POSCO.
The FINEX-based furnaces are also eco-friendly. They emit only 40 percent as much sulfur oxides, 15 percent nitrogen oxides and 34 percent ultrafine dust compared to other furnaces, the steelmaker said.
POSCO has invested hundreds of billions of won in research and development for next-generation technologies to produce molten metal since the early 1990s, backed by the government.
In 1998, however, the company's R&D drive for a new steelmaking process faced opposition due to its unclear future. But POSCO decided to continue developing the technology and invested an additional 100 billion won in this project.
In 2007 and 2014, POSCO started operating its second and third FINEX process plants in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, which are capable of producing 1.5 million tons and 2 million tons of molten metal a year, respectively. Currently, the steelmaker's FINEX production facilities produce about 10,000 tons of molten metal every day, according to the company.
POSCO has more than 200 patent rights related to the FINEX technologies in Korea and more than 50 such rights in about 20 countries worldwide. The company is also in discussion with steelmakers in other countries such as China to export its FINEX technologies.