European Green Steel

First unit has arrived in Slovenia to recover 47% of heat in steel production plant.


The first ETEKINA Heat Pipe Heat Exchanger (HPHE) has arrived at the steel plant of SIJ Metal Ravne in the Slovenian city of Ravne na Koroškem. The unit consists of two heat recovery cycles and has been designed by Prof. Hussam Jouhara and his team from Brunel University London. The system was manufactured by the Welsh company Econotherm and is now ready for installation and commissioning.


“The commissioning process is critical”, says Jouhara, “this is why at least one of our team members has to be present, to supervise how hot exhaust air passes through the heat exchanger, how the heat pipes are being activated for the first time and to be ready to act in case there are problems with the system, like leaks for example.” Prof. Jouhara and his team from Brunel University are sitting on packed bags, ready to travel to Slovenia to supervise the installation and commissioning. But travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have halted the commissioning process for the moment. “I am confident, that we will be travelling to Slovenia in the coming weeks, but with the pandemic, it is not clear when there will be a save window where we can travel.”


At SIJ Metal Ravne, the recipients of the HPHE, are also in eager anticipation of the installation. “In this pilot project, we will use the energy of excessive flue gases from our Allino furnace that is used for heating steel billets,“ explains Kristijan Plesnik, responsible for energetics at the steel company.

Currently, the flue gases of the furnace are released into the environment at a temperature of 380°C. With the new ETEKINA heat pipe heat exchanger, part of the energy from the flue gas will be recovered to pre-heat the fresh air in the furnace itself. In a second ancillary section of the unit, the remaining exhaust heat will also be recovered for the heating of the company’s office building. According to the detailed calculations by Hussam Jouhara, SIJ Metal Ravne can expect to recover 47% of the wasted heat with the two-sections unit. Once installed, both sections of the unit will be closely monitored to verify, if the expected rate of heat recovery will be achieved.


ETEKINA is a Horizon 2020 innovation project co-funded by the European Commission. The Project will run until September 2021, by when there will be two additional units installed and commissioned in an aluminium furnace (Spain) and at a ceramics production unit (Italy) with similarly high recovery rates.