Metallurgical industry plant supplier SMS group has been selected to supply a Peirce-Smith Converter for converting nickel matte for the production of batteries to global nickel exporter Société de Nickel de Nouvelle Calédonie et Corée (SNNC) in South Korea.
The supply will fast-track the production of nickel and its sulphate for high-performance batteries and will also be a substantial step towards sustainable electromobility.
The supply has also been reported as being a joint effort within SMS group in terms of circular economy and battery production.
Electromobility and the transition to green energy are only possible with the development and application of highly efficient battery technologies.
The nickel content of the high-performance batteries is steadily growing.
Most of this nickel and nickel sulphate is produced by refining ferronickel, which is commonly produced in submerged arc furnaces.
Notably the ferronickel from the Gwangyang plant will be converted to nickel matte – a nickel sulphite phase – to lower the iron content.
The nickel matte is then hydrometallurgically processed into nickel and nickel sulphate by the steelmaking company formerly known as Pohang Iron and Steel Company, POSCO’s neighbouring battery plant.
The Peirce-Smith Converter to be supplied by SMS is one of the key units in this overall process chain and converts the ferronickel efficiently into high-quality nickel matte using special underbath nozzles and a liquid sulphur injection system.
In addition to the Peirce-Smith Converter, SMS will supply the liquid sulphur injection system, the design and engineering of the off-gas hoods, as well as the metallurgical process.
This pioneering technology will set new standards in nickel production for the rapidly growing battery market.
SMS notes that it is proud of its ability to make an important contribution to the efficient production of nickel-based batteries.
The plant will go on stream in 2023, and SNNC plans to produce 21 000 t/y of nickel through this project.