Operators can learn the process quickly. Sophisticated control algorithms have been developed in our own operations over many years to ensure that operation of the process is as simple as possible.
Easy Stop and Start-Up Procedures
Additionally, the ease of stopping and restarting the ISASMELT™ in order to rectify problems with associated equipment is a significant operating advantage. Typically the furnace can be stopped within 20 seconds and re-started within five minutes. A holding burner is used to maintain the temperature of the molten bath until re-start is required. If required the furnace can be drained quickly because of the small bath volume. After draining it is straightforward to re-establish the bath with recovery to normal operation typically taking only a few hours. Even if the molten bath is frozen due to loss of critical control parameters (eg caused by a major blackout), it can be remelted within a matter of hours. In some other technologies this would lead to many weeks of downtime as it would not be possible to remelt a frozen bath.
Reliable Furnace Design
The highly developed control systems and refractory materials used in the furnaces, coupled with the installation techniques learned over many years of industrial practice ensure minimal maintenance over many years. Generally no maintenance of the refractories is required and minor shutdowns of 2-4 weeks are required every 2 to 3 years to replace critical components.
Lance changing is a brief, simple task and can be fully mechanised and undertaken in less than 30 minutes. Lance repair is a simple and cost-effective process; only the tip of the lance needs to be replaced. Lance tips typically last for a number of weeks before they need to be replaced. The lances themselves last for many years.
Minimal Feed Preparation
Some other processes require feed material to be ground or dried. ISASMELT™ feed requires minimal feed preparation. In some cases no processing is required, while in other applications it is agglomerated, or made into small pellets prior to charging to the furnace. In secondary smelting, large lumps of raw materials can be fed into the bath. For example, in one smelter, scrap copper up to 300mm in length is incorporated in the continuous feed mix.