In his keynote address during the Euro PM2011 plenary session, Dr Volker Arnhold, Vice President – Global Advanced Engineering at GKN Sinter Metals GmbH (Radevormwald, Germany), gave an interesting and useful analysis of the energy consumption in iron powder and PM part production, and benchmarking this with competitive metal forming processes such as casting, forging and machining.
Dr Volker Arnhold, Vice President - Global Advanced
Engineering, GKN Sinter Metals GmbH, during his
keynote presentation (photo: www.ipmd.net)
The presentation, which was co-authored by Dr Vladislav Kruzhanov (Director, R&D Europe, GKN Sinter Metals), showed that PM technology is indeed the most energy efficient among the various metal forming processes in terms of kWh/tonne of components produced. However, there was nevertheless a constant need to reduce energy requirement in the PM process in order to combat rising energy costs, to eliminate waste energy, and to meet stricter EU regulations on CO2 emissions in the manufacturing environment.
Dr Arnhold stated that energy consumption in the production of water atomized iron powder using scrap metal was approx. 2 kWh/kg and this compared favourably with crude steel production which consumes 5 kWh/kg. Sponge iron powder was a little higher per kg at approx 4 kWh.
Dr Arnhold stated that in conventional PM part production an average total of 5 kWh/kg energy is consumed but with heavier, large size PM parts requiring considerably less energy per kg than smaller sized PM parts. As would be expected the highest amount of energy consumed in the PM process is for sintering and sintering atmospheres which combined make up nearly 50% of the energy needed.
Dr Arnhold said that there was still scope to improve the ‘productive’ heat in a sintering furnace which currently stands at only 30% of the energy used. The remaining energy is dissipated from the furnace. Recuperation of some of this ‘unproductive’ energy in the furnace should reduce the energy requirement in sintering significantly.
This article has been quoted with the kind permission of Inovar Communications Ltd.