International steel company, NLMK Group, has commenced commercial operations of a new steam methane reformer (SMR) at its VIZ-Steel site in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

The company claims that the RUB 1.2bn ($18.5m) hydrogen (H2) production upgrade will result in a three-fold cost reduction. The vapour reforming unit contains three autonomous process lines producing a total capacity of 4,500 m3/h and, in addition, the unit utilises an air-cooling system for increased reliability in the icy climate of the Ural Mountains.

The new technology, which replaces NLMK Group’s previous electrolysis method, requires 30 times less energy and is estimated to bring the company’s annual energy consumption down by 75 million kilowatt hours (kWh).

The annualised gain from this investment project is RUB 200m ($3m) saved in energy costs

Sergey Chebotarev, Vice-President for Energy at the Moscow-based outfit, signified, “A new technology for generation of H2 through vapour reforming at our energy-intensive transformer steel operations is an important element of our programme for increased energy efficiency and reduced production costs, which are part of NLMK Group’s Strategy 2017.” 

“This technology enables a three-fold reduction in VIZ-Steel’s H2 production costs. The annualised gain from this investment project is RUB 200m ($3m) saved in energy costs.”

The H2 produced will be used in decarbonisation, heat resistant and insulating coating and high-temperature annealing processes for thermic transformer steel treatment at the plant.