ILTEC Technology – Water Cooling Substitute Set to Hydrate The Australian Market

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New technology from Austrian engineering company Mettop looks set to change the game when it comes to water-cooling molten metal. Mettop’s patented ILTEC technology is the result of several years of research activities into the feasibility of using ionic liquid IL-B2001 to replace water in cooling technology designs. 

The end result is a tailor-made solution that is starting to turn heads around the world. Superior liquid temperatures, higher safety levels and better heat recovery are the key features leading the way for the new technology that’s starting to roll out worldwide. 

Iltec Technology Opportunities

How ILTEC Technology Differs From Water Cooling

Water has been used as a primary method of cooling for many generations of metallurgy. But water cooling found its way into cooling technology more through simplicity and ease-of-access rather than through any reputation of reliability or safety. It was the easiest choice for cooling when you have the option of taking ready-made water as opposed to developing a custom solution yourself. 

The specially designed ionic liquid IL-B2001 changes this by combining several properties that render it far superior to water cooling.

  • IL-B2001 is liquid at room temperature and can be used at an operating temperature of up to 250 °C short term, 200 °C for duration, enabling use of heat recovery applications.
  • In case of a leak in the cooling system, the IL-B2001 will disintegrate into its components without a sudden increase in volume and without the formation of hydrogen. There will be no explosion when getting in contact with liquid metal, and so work safety can be guaranteed
  • No cooler corrosion problems will occur, as the IL-B2001 can be used at higher temperatures (above the dew point of the exhaust gases)
  • New opportunities such as, cooling beneath bath levels and inside side walls and also hydraulic systems for furnace operations.

While Mettop’s new technology brings a slew of improvements across the board, the real kicker is the lack of water. Removing water from the picture not only side steps the risk of worker safety, but removes all the other time- and money-draining procedures involved in following proper procedures after an accident. This alone makes the ILTEC technology a sensible investment for any Australian company in a relevant space.

The Hardware Behind The Technology

The ILTEC hardware, including the design and capacity of the technology, is tailor-made for each application. Bearing this in mind, a standard closed circuit operation of the ILTEC technology will look something like this:

  • A tank filled with IL-B2001; the freeboard volume above the liquid level is purged with nitrogen in order to prevent hydration of the liquid through humidity in the air
  • Two identical pumps (one for redundancy) guarantee the flow of the IL through the entire pipe system
  • Two heat exchangers to remove the heat to the secondary cooling circuit;
  • Numerous measuring devices for temperature, flow, pressure and differential pressure throughout the entire system guarantee a fast leak detection
  • A variety of valves, adjusting wheels and shut-off devices for all different operation modes

The compact design, together with a low maintenance operation mode, top shelf safety are just a few of the features present in the ILTEC technology. Even better – assembly, installation and start-up on site can all be carried out from start to finish within days. This ability to have a quick uptake shows the opportunity available to Australian sites should they choose to get involved. If they don’t, they might instead find themselves left behind and outdated. 

Basic design of an ILTEC facility including the transportation frames
Basic design of an ILTEC facility including the transportation frames

A Closer Look at IL-B2001

Ionic liquids (IL) are salts, meaning they consist solely of anions and cations. Per definition, ionic liquids show a melting point below 100 °C; many of them are liquid even at room temperature, due to their poorly coordinated ions.

It took years of intensive research and a multitude of different ionic liquids to find the most suitable composition to meet the metallurgical requirements.

Optical appearance of IL-B2001
Optical appearance of IL-B2001

Proven and Potential Applications of ILTEC Technology

This revolutionary technology from Mettop has not so much opened the door to finding new solutions but has more accurately smashed the door down and left no prisoners. Safer and more efficient cooling will be coming to all manner of relevant fields. 

In saying this, the primary idea of ILTEC is not to substitute all water-cooled areas – even if this would be possible – but to introduce this technology for areas where water cooling is risky and where refractory hydration or cooler corrosion effects can be observed.

Once you start considering the technology’s capabilities, the possibilities quickly become wide-ranging. Here are just a few critical areas where IL-B2001 could either substitute water or be used as an entirely new application:

Substitution of water in critical areas or where corrosion and/or hydration problems occur:

  • Tap hole
  • Furnace roof
  • Off-gas junction
  • Anode furnace mouth, Etc.

Totally new applications where water-cooling is not possible or too risky

  • Furnace bottom and side wall (below bath level)
  • Tuyere zone
  • Purging plugs
  • TSL lance tip
  • Measurement lances
  • Cooling of Zn pots in galvanizing lines
  • Hydraulic devices, Etc. 

What can go wrong?

Find below a video of the of an explosion of a metallurgical vessel due to water ingress. This time it was a converter in South America. ILTEC Technology can be used as a safer media.

Final Thoughts

We hope Australian companies join other sites such as ArcelorMittal Bremen in Germany, voestalpine Stahl in Leoben Austria, or Heesung in SKorea in exploring the benefits of this cutting edge technology at their facilities. The Australian mineral processing industry has an opportunity here to take the lead on investing in an efficient and reliable cooling technology that looks to be sticking around for the long-term. 

The team at Siquay Solutions is honoured to have such an innovative partner in Mettop. The mineral processing industry in Australia and around the world is all the better for having expert companies such as Mettop leading the way. If you’re interested in learning more about Iltech technology contact Alex on our contact page.

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