Steel ministry to produce electrical steels in India
The steel ministry is spearheading a Rs 500-crore public-private research and development project for indigenous technology to produce high value cold rolled grain oriented (CRGO), or electrical steels in India.
Electrical steels, used in manufacturing static motors such as transformers, are priced at nearly Rs 1.5 lakh per tonne —five times the value of hot rolled coils (HRC) that are used to make cars and consumer durables.
Globally, only a clutch of companies have the capability to produce CRGO and the technology is not easily available for assimilation.
The Indian project will involve the Department of Scientific Industrial Research — National Metallurgical Laboratory (DSIR- NML), the ministry, Tata Steel and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam.
If successful, it would be a significant breakthrough since CRGO grade steels will be produced in India for the first time. Currently, all requirements are met through imports.
The venture would also mark a significant leap for the steel industry’s technology prowess. In the last couple of years, the country has emerged as the third-largest steel producer in the world and is in line to reach the no. 2 spot.
A pilot plant will be set up at NML premises in Jamshedpur after a detailed engineering and project management report. A detailed project report has already been prepared and submitted by engineering consultancy Mecon.
Depending on its success, stakeholders are likely to adopt the technology for producing CRGO. All key aspects relating to licensing and IPR have been covered under a master agreement, a source close to the initiative told ET.
“Mecon has, in collaboration with a knowledge partner, developed a ‘process route’ for the CRGO, which is completely indigenous and does not infringe on existing technology,” said a source in the government. This was after NML conducted fundamental research to find the white spaces for developing the technology without any infringement issues.
While efforts to develop CRGO were taken up by Steel Authority of India’s Rourkela Steel Plant a couple of decades earlier, it proved elusive. At that time it was Armco, also the first developers of this grade of steel, which was providing the main technology.
Currently, Rourkela Steel Plant is the largest producer of cold rolled non-oriented steels in India. More recently, JSW Steel, in cooperation with JFE Corp of Japan, was also in talks to develop CRGO steels in India.