In 2012, veteran Satinder Nath Gupta noticed a pile of steel scrap. He thought it was probably a landfill.
After 35 years in the foundry industry, he decided to do something extraordinary. He says, “The depletion of virgin natural minerals from the earth’s crust needs extensive research,” adding that it’s important to reuse by-product raw materials from steel companies.
Sandeep, son of Satinder Nath Gupta, who had worked as an HR professional in Dubai, wanted to help his father to find a solution to steel waste.
United by this philosophy, the duo began experimenting with available resources. A shipbuilding company in Dubai planned to build a company in Southern India to produce spare parts, says Sandeep. “My dad ran the foundry.”
The project in Tamil Nadu was regrettably abandoned and never completed. However, the area was unoccupied.
Sluggish, but Solid Technology
According to Sandeep, the process is based on pyrometallurgy, which involves the use of high temperatures to extract a pure metal form. Thermal treatment is applied to the mineral form of the metal. It undergoes a physical and chemical transition to produce the metal.”
The heat source in these reactions is the combustion process, and the temperatures are sufficient to melt the material in around five minutes.
“This immediate heat produces a clean fusion with negligible smoke during the operation. “It is indeed environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient for its intended use,” he continues.
Another benefit is the elimination of electricity during the reaction, as the heat generated by one reaction serves as the energy source for the next.
Sandeep compares this approach to the industrial standard, stating, “In huge enterprises, scrap is added to the furnace for every reaction. The process is automated and mechanised, allowing these enterprises to create thousands of tones of molten metal per month. Our technology is inspired by the ancient method of heating metal in a crucible. Slow but environmentally friendly.”
Sandeep claims that once they were pleased with these investigations, they ran pilot testing in Tamil Nadu, Jammu, and Bangalore in 2007, 2014, and 2016 and received astounding results: molten metal that was 99 percent pure.
The father and son were now motivated to expand their horizons and establish Green Trek in Jammu in 2019. The Sandeep-led firm focuses on green steel, which they consider to be the future of the steel industry.
The family plans to move its headquarters from Jammu to Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, where the plant is now.
Sandeep explains, “Steel waste is collected from rolling mills, and this is used to generate molten metal with an iron concentration of 99.6%.” Then, various kinds of high-value steel and alloy castings for various industries are made by combining this with other metals.
He continues by saying that while the other 55% of the steel waste is hard, like cinder, the usable items made from it include hammers, stone crushers, roller crushers, cement plant liners, heat-resistant steel, and stainless steel. “This is used for tarring roads, filling digs, etc.” One metric tone of molten metal is produced throughout each cycle, and the reaction produces up to 5% CO2 emissions.”
The concept is still in its early phases of commercialization, and the partners hope to patent the invention by the year’s end.
Satinder Nath lists a few difficulties encountered in starting the business. “This process is not typically employed to produce steel and alloy castings. We ultimately reached a point where we could further recycle this trash into different iron, steel, and alloy castings after several tries and failures.
Green Technologies as a Catalyst for Change
Throughout their journey, Sandeep came to the realisation that he wanted to create a firm that was both environmentally friendly and prepared for the future. According to him, “We are integrating machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) into the melting process.” We work together with a business that applies these technologies to aluminium.”
Sandeep claims that by doing this, he will be able to control the melt from any location and will also be able to see clearly for himself and any potential partners in industry how much CO2 is being saved, how much waste is being produced, where the reaction is in the process, and other things.
The pair are rewriting an established story about how industrial trash may be effectively channeled through their project, which is supported by IIT Mandi. Sandeep thinks that this procedure will encourage more industries to take action and move in the direction of sustainability.
“Catalysing change, not stifling it,” Sandeep opened up.