CHARACTERISTICS OF HYDROGEN FUEL COMBUSTION IN A REHEATING FURNACE
Current industrial practice in the steel Industry involves the use of natural gas with high methane content as a primary energy source. Natural combustion produces greenhouse gases, and with the continued focus on managing and reducing harmful emissions from industrial processes, there is a need for research into alternative sources of energy. Among several alternatives that have been studied is hydrogen: a non-carbon-based fuel. This work uses a coupled computational fluid dynamics (CFD)-finite element analysis (FEA) combustion model to investigate hydrogen utilization as a fuel in a reheat furnace and how it impacts the quality of the steel produced by understanding the three dimensional (3D) flow behavior, furnace temperature profile, thermal stress distribution, heat flux, formation of iron oxides, emission gases and mode of heat transfer onto the steel slabs. The modeling process integrates the five different zones of a pusher type reheating furnace (top and bottom) and modeled using Ansys Fluent 2020R1 and Ansys Workbench 2022R1. Changes in these parameters are determined by comparison to a baseline case that uses methane as fuel and maintaining the same heat input in terms of chemical energy into the furnace. Global mechanism was used for hydrogen and two step mechanism was used for methane combustion. Results revealed a 2.6% increase in average temperature to 1478K across the furnace for hydrogen which resulted in 6.45% increase in maximum heat flux into the slabs. Similar flue gas flow patterns were seen for both cases and heat transfer mode from the combustion gases to the slabs was primarily by radiation (~97%) for both methane and hydrogen. 11.5% increase in iron oxide formation on the slab was recorded for the hydrogen case, however, the bulk of the iron oxide formed was more of wüstites which are the easiest form of iron oxide to descale. However, elevated nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels were recorded for hydrogen combustion which led to further study into NOx mitigation techniques. Application of the staged combustion method using hydrogen fuel showed potentials for NOx reduction. The use of regenerative burners further conserved exergy losses in hydrogen fuel application. Insignificant deviation from base case thermal stress distribution and zero carbon emission from the hydrogen case indicates the usability of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in reheating furnace operations.