Nickel Sintering Lines Project

We designed and built the first Nickel Sintering & Desulfurising Furnace for WMC (now a part of BHP Billiton) in 1969. Since then, we have developed more advanced nickel sintering technologies and have become the leading furnace supplier to nickel refineries globally. The 8 tonne/hour nickel furnace at a major refinery in Western Australia (pictured) is currntly the highest capacity installation.  More recently, three modern sintering and desulfurising furnaces were built, installed and commissioned in Madagascar for a JV of Sumitomo and Rio Tinto. The plant processes both nickel and cobalt briquettes. The major improvements in the current nickel sintering furnace design are:

1. Hydrogen Disposal

In earlier designs the hydrogen burnt off was done at the entry point, risking damage to the conveyor belt and the briquettes. The high heat could also damage dampers used to control the furnace pressure. In the our advanced furnace designs, hydrogen is channeled out harmlessly, allowing the pressure damper to control the furnace pressure more effectively. The channeled hydrogen is flared or burnt off in a temperature controlled combustion chamber, with option of a heat recovery system to be used.

2. Convection Cooling

Another significant advancement is the convection cooling method which replaces the earlier quiescent cooler design. The high specific heat and conductivity of hydrogen ensure that convection is highly effective, cutting the cooling period to a third that of the previous process. However, the high specific heat of hydrogen requires the energy input to be increased by 20% to heat the hydrogen as it enters the furnace. This extra energy requirement is mitigated by utlising a patented heat exchanger that transfers heat from the exiting nickel to the incoming hydrogen.

3. Energy Saving & Equipment Upgrades

We provide engineering expertise and project manage plant refurbishment projects for customers with legacy equipment to reduce their energy consumption and emission footprint. The tasks include:

  • Replacing the long old-fashioned coolers with our advanced "Convecool" technology
  • Converting from old electrical heating to more cost & energy-saving heating methods
  • Increasing plant safety involving hydrogen with improved atmosphere control
  • Increasing the production efficiency of existing lines
  • Implementing mechanical upgrades to bearing, sealing, product loading structure

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