By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
After denying a Chinese steelmaking project registration for using obsolete and highly pollutant induction furnace (IF) technology, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) appeared to be reconsidering its position saying it is conducting a study on steelmaking including all technologies at hand to come up with a policy formulation on IF.
DTI issued this statement following a presentation by the Philippine Induction Smelting Industry Association (PISIA) led by Benjamin Co last November 25, 2019 explaining the IF technology in steelmaking to the Board of Investments’ (BOI) Manufacturing Industries Service and members of the BOI-led Inter-Agency Technical Working Group for the review on Induction Furnaces and Environmental Standards. The TWG is also composed of the Department of Science and Technology-Metals Industry Research and Development Center and Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau, and representatives from DTI-CPG’s Bureau of Philippine Standards, Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, and the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau.
“The presentation of the PISIA about IF is highly appreciated by the DTI for this will be part of the technical papers that will be studied and validated by the agency in aid of decision-making and policy formulation relative to the IF technology. The Department, as with all industries, is committed in studying the steel-making industry, including all technologies at hand,” DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.
In the presentation, Co highlighted the advantages of using IF for steelmaking in terms of equipment performance, energy consumption, production cost, environmental protection, and pollution prevention and control.
IF is used for melting iron, steel, copper, aluminum, and other precious metals through heating an electrically inducting object, in this case a furnace, by electromagnetic induction. Due to the absence of electric arcs or electrical breakdown of gas in the heating and melting process, IF is able to produce steel and alloy that are low in carbon and occluded gases, without affecting the quality. Once molten, the high frequency magnetic field can be used to stir the hot metal thereby making the process clean and free of contamination.
Co, who is also president of Wan Chiong Steel Corporation, clarified misconceptions on the use of IF in the manufacture of steel. One major concern is the banning of IF in China.
For this, Co pointed out that there is no banning of IF in China. He said that these IF steel plants were closed for reasons of overcapacity and not being able to cope with regulations, among others.
He further emphasized that the equipment from these closed IF plants in China cannot be used in the Philippines because these are not compatible with our existing power infrastructure. Philippine power lines require 60 hertz of frequency while China power lines require 50 Hertz frequency.
The PISIA is composed of members from the Chuangxing Steel, Inc., Davao Mighty Steel Corporation, Keim Hing Steel Corporation, Lian Sheng Manufacturing Corporation, Melters Steel Corporation, Metrodragon Steel, Phil. Koktai Metal Incorporated, South Luzon Steel Industrial Corporation, and Wan Chiong Steel Corporation.