Mohammed Ismail, DGM Process, Bharathi Cement, speaks on the challeneges faced by refractories in India.
As a global player, what are the efficiency improvements that you observed in your products after the adaptation of refractory?
The use of refractories help in many ways in the cement industries, first and foremost it gives good life, it helps avoid unscheduled stoppages of the plant etc. So the selection of the refractory is very important to maximise the benefits. That is where we give more importance and in our plant we have been using magnesia bricks in the kiln (rich alumina content). Preheated area is one of the critical areas and that is were we have used refractories and that helped us to achieve temperatures at 1100 degree centigrade. The high alumina content that are used helped us achieve this temperature levels. It has given us a good life of 5-6 years.
The adaptations we are basically dependant on the imports. How do you see the domestic supply shaping up?
Domestic supply, especially we have been habituated to high alumina content bricks. Refractories can be divided into two parts- one is bricks, and another is monolithic castable. If we take the use of bricks, we have been using basic bricks.As basic bricks have high CCS (Cold Crushing Strength) will be higher, and it sustain in very high temperature. Along with the selection of the fuels or alternative fuels, the type of refractory to be used has also been selected. To cite an example, we use high intensive temperature producing coke as a fuel. Basic brinks are one and the same as the alumina bricks which are produced by moulding only. When installed in our kilns, the temperature can go up to around 1,500-1,600 degree centigrade. At the same time, the flame temperature will be higher than these temperatures levels. So to withstand this, we have introduced refractory.
Second part is what we call as the monolithic castable. Apart from the kiln, these are being used. We are having multi-stream - double stream preheated systems. Triple stream preheated, with six stages with a height of around 180 m. This is divided into six stages. The hot metal move from top to bottom and the cold moves from bottom to top, thus the heat exchange takes place.
As a global player you have seen the adaptation in many countries and then in India. What do you think are the challenges faced in India?
When we depend on imports the major challenge is the lead time is very hig, which is anywhere between four to six months. But if domestic supply is available then the materials can be procured within two to three weeks. Unfortunately, we are still majorly depend on imports in refractories. We are yet to see quality suppliers in the domestic market. Knowing the quality, the cement players still prefer importing.
For refractories, steel is one of the major consumers followed by chemical industry, Cement probably is a small faction. What is the demand growth for next 2-3 years?
There is high demand expected for cement as a segment is expected with the infrastructure growth push from the government. There is more concentration on developing alternative fuels also in the offing. These alternative fuels are having a very high impact on the refractory also. And cement would be one segment that can implement the alternative fuels adaptation.So there is space for significant for refractory in India.
- liza V