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Microwave assisted reduction of iron ore/slimes: An innovative and cost effective approach for dry beneficiation for maximization of iron recovery from low grade ores

Primary Information


Advanced Materials

Project No.


Sanction and Project Initiation

Sanction No: F.No.3-18/2015-T.S-I(Vol. III)

Sanction Date: 24/07/2017

Project Initiation date: 01/01/2018

Project Duration: 36

Partner Ministry/Agency/Industry

JSW Steel Ltd & NMDC Ltd


Role of partner:1. JSW/ NMDC shall provide iron ore and coal and industry standards for product quality and safety standards for commercialization of the technology.
2. JSW/NMDC will work on techno-economic evaluation, controls, environmental impact and end application of the product for hot metal production.
3. JSW & NMDC shall lead the development of a bench-scale system, parameter monitoring, and results evaluation.
4. Based on bench scale operational data, the team will develop scale-up designs for implementation of the pilot unit.
5. The technology demonstration pilot plant is proposed to be implemented at JSW VJNR works. ( 2020-21)


Support from partner: Both industry partners agreed to support the project by 25% each (total 50%) towards the implementation of the pilot unit for technology demonstration on the successful implementation of technology. They also supply the raw materials for investigations by academic partner along with guiding the project participants on the academic side in order to get the investigations done as per industry requirements.

Principal Investigator

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Dr Ajay Kumar Shukla
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Host Institute


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Prof. Anish Upadhyaya
Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

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Dr. K. Marutiram
JSW Steel Limited

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Dr. Rameshwar Sah
JSW Steel Limited

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Dr. Mr. Rajan Kumar
NMDC Limited


Scope and Objectives

Iron ore is the basic raw material for iron and steelmaking. Majority of iron ore is used by pig iron and sponge iron industries. Under current iron ore beneficiation practice in our country, the iron ore particles below 0.15 mm (100 mesh) are discarded as waste which is known as slimes. The generation of slimes is of the order of 20-25% of total iron ore feed during the beneficiation process and these slimes are dumped between iron-bearing mountain ranges. Over the last many years of iron ore mining, it has resulted in huge slime ponds holding several million tons of locked iron content and damage to the land and environment. This project could be of great economic relevance to Indian Iron ore fines which are lying in millions of tons in India and no one is utilizing them effectively. They are currently sent to China as scrap and China processes it and sells back to India at a very high price. If we can convert this into iron rich materials suitable for blast furnace charging by microwave assisted beneficiation process, which would save a lot of money for India and at the same help in utilization of waste material for ironmaking. Microwave-assisted beneficiation could be an economic option since microwave will selectively interact with iron oxides/ carbon mix leaving other gangue impurities (like silica, alumina, phosphorus oxides) as it is. The scope of this project will involve fundamental study and investigations by specially designed bench scale (10kg/hr) and pilot-scale experimental (100-1000 kg/hr) investigations. The industry partner will help in the preparation of raw material for the investigations as well as characterization of raw materials and the product, providing all relevant technical data and standards required for industrial operations and requirements during the project. Industrial partners (JSW Steel Ltd. And NMDC Limited) will also provide all necessary data and inputs required for pilot scale designs as per industry standards.


1. Development of technology of microwave assisted beneficiation of iron ore fines/slimes using microwave-assisted reduction process.
2. Pilot plant studies and scaling up for commercial production with the help of an industrial partner.
3. Involvement and development of student teams at IIT Madras and IIT Kanpur with JSW R&D and NMDC.
4. Development of research facilities at IIT Madras and IIT Kanpur.
5. Strengthening the academia-industry association by converting this activity in the form of a consortium with multi-institutional and multi-industry approach to take up similar kind of tasks in coming future in the area of process metallurgy research of iron and steelmaking.


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Scientific Output

1. Thermodynamics and kinetics based investigations of iron-ore/coal composite reduction under conventional as well as microwave-assisted heating.
2. Development of a mathematical model of the Heat Transfer control model under different heating modes and comparison with actual measurements.
3. Characterization of raw mineral as well as product under different temperatures and processing duration.
4. Based upon the above investigations, identification of reaction mechanisms, rate constants, and activation energies.
5. Scientific calculations for scale-up studies for large scale production.


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Results and outcome till date

Based upon laboratory investigations, XRD/SEM analysis and estimation of reactions mechanisms and corresponding rate constants and activations energies, and further development of heat transfer control model under microwave/conventional hybrid heating, the operating parameters for the upscaled bench-scale process are estimated are will be tested in the industry.


Scholars and Project Staff

2 Ph.D. students for the next 3 years. Names of scholars are as follows:
1. Mr. Saumya Ranjan Mohanty
2. Mr. Sunila Yadav

Financial Information

  • Total sanction: Rs. 33110000

  • Amount received: Rs. 13980000

  • Amount utilised for Equipment: 0

  • Amount utilised for Manpower: 0

  • Amount utilised for Consumables: 0

  • Amount utilised for Contingency: 0

  • Amount utilised for Travel: 0

  • Amount utilised for Other Expenses: 0

  • Amount utilised for Overheads: 0

Equipment and facilities


1. Hybrid Microwave Heating Furnace(1700 C)
2. Horizontal Tubular Furnace (1700 C)
3. Vertical Tubular furnace (with TGA kind on online weight measurement-1700 C)
4. Cold press for making green compacts ** The equipment purchase process is underway and all equipment will be with us by August end-September first week. Till then-experimental investigations are performed with the help of partner industries, IIT Kanpur and also outsourced from other agencies.

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