Refractory contracting company Refraline is rebuilding a glass furnace, capable of producing 490 t/d of glass, for glass manufacturer Consol, in Bellville, Cape Town.
“The old furnace was demolished because it had reached the end of its lifespan, which is about 12 years,” says Refraline divisional projects manager Rudi Koller.
“The closer a furnace gets to the end of its lifespan, the thinner the inside lining becomes, which requires it to be rebuilt.
“Sometimes companies do extensive repairs to the furnace, but that will only be a short-term solution and the furnace will fail again in about a year’s time. It is better to rebuild a furnace than to repair it,” says Refraline MD Manfred Rösch.
The erection of the new glass furnace at Consol started on May 2 with the demolition of the old furnace.
Refraline was given 84 days to complete the project.
“The 84 days entailed the demolition, some civil work because the furnace has been enlarged, the steel erection for the furnace, some refractory work and installation, as well as the heating up, ceramic welding and start-up of glass production.
“July 10 was the date given, in the interim to start the heating-up phase and we managed to meet that deadline. Glass production started again on July 26,” says Refraline contracts project manager Thomas Mans.
Meanwhile, Koller points out that the new furnace is diesel-fuelled and does not run on electricity, which will ensure lower fuel consumption and energy savings.
Refraline attributes the success in erecting the furnace for Consol to its joint venture with Germany-based glass furnace supplier Sorg Feuerungsbau.
“Sorg Feuerungsbau is a specialist in the manufacturing of glass furnaces. It builds about 12 furnaces a year and provides maintenance services to the industry.
“The German company provides specific knowledge and technologies about glass furnaces, while we provide the components, labour and supervision required for building the furnaces,” says Rösch.
Further, Refraline points out that, for the first time in South Africa, the company is using ceramic welding technology to erect a glass furnace.
Ceramic welding is traditionally used to repair furnaces. It entails conveying a dry mixture of refractory aggregate and oxidisable particles together, through specially designed water-cooled lances.
The ceramic welding will ensure a longer life span for the furnace.
Since 2008, Refraline has built five glass furnaces in South Africa, three of which were for Consol and two for Nampak Glass.
Refraline hopes it will be contracted by Consol Nigel to build a glass furnace for the second phase of its new plant.
The R1.9-billion Phase 1 of Consol Glass’ Nigel plant started operating in September last year. The plant currently uses a 400 t/d furnace to produce 110 000 t/y of glass.
The project is a 50-year investment and the 50 ha Nigel plant has the capacity to house six furnaces, each with the capacity to produce 400 t/d of glass.
Engineering News reported in August last year that the completion of Phase 2, at a cost of R600-million, would be dependent on market conditions. This will entail bringing a second furnace on line.
Over the past ten years, Refraline has implemented an in-depth safety management system, which it believes is instrumental in the good standing record for safety at its plants.
Refraline has a proven safety record and has not had any injuries in more than 12 months.
Rösch believes this record is an important aspect when clients decide which company to contract for building furnaces.
Refractory contracting company Refraline has been in a contract with Consol to erect a 490 t/d glass furnace at its Bellville plant in Cape Town