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Emphasis on green kilns

Business honchos, academics and scientists from across the country congregated in Dhanbad on Monday to discuss ways to revive Indian refractory industry.

During a national workshop on the Digwadih campus of Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), the participants focused on technological upgrade and explored pragmatic and affordable means for sustainability. The daylong event was organised by Dhanbad chapter of Institution of Engineers in association with CIMFR.

Speaking during the workshop, A.K. Chattopadhyaya, managing director of TRL Krosaki Refractories Limited, said the refractory industry was one of the worst hit sectors in the prevailing economic scenario.

“It is traditionally dependent on iron and steel industry. With steel industry taking a beating due to the sluggish economic growth, the refractory units too are feeling the heat,” Chattopadhyaya, who graced the occasion as chief guest, added. The condition of small-scale refractory units is even worse.

He further said it was high time that refractory units adopted clean and green methods to draw more manpower.

“An increased manpower will in turn help improve efficiency, conserve resources and energy, and upgrade technology to counter prevailing challenges,” he argued.

Government College of Engineering and Ceramic Technology, Calcutta, principal Saikat Maitra, CIMFR director Amlendu Sinha and BIT-Sindri faculty members B.N. Roy and S. Hembrom also expressed their views during the workshop.

According to them, the sector is facing problems like slow growth, poor energy efficiency and rising fuel costs. Upgrading downdraught kilns will go a long way to minimise pollution that often brings refractory units under the scanner of pollution control boards, they added.

Notably, refractory materials that retain their strength at high temperature are used for making fire bricks, which in turn are used in lining of furnaces, kilns and reactors.

Presently, most of these refractory units use downdraught kilns to make fire bricks. Huge quantity of coal is used in such kilns, resulting in large-scale air pollution.