Graycor Industrial Constructors recently completed work on United States Steel Corp.’s C Battery at the company’s Clairton (Pennsylvania) Plant, the nation’s largest coke making facility with an annual production rate of 4.5 million tons. The $500-million project, which represents the largest investment ever made at the plant, replaces decades of old coke ovens with new environmentally advanced technology. U.S. Steel’s C Battery at Clairton was put into operation in November 2012.
Graycor was the general contractor responsible for the construction of U.S. Steel’s new coke battery which has replaced three older units. Utilizing Uhde’s Proven Gas Pressure Control system, the new unit uses fewer coke ovens and coke oven doors to reduce emissions. As a by-product recovery battery, C Battery has the technology to collect the coke oven gasses created during the coke making process and pipe them directly to nearby facilities for reuse. When at capacity, the new coke battery is expected to produce approximately 960,000 tons of Clairton Plant’s 4.5 million annual capacity.
Putting the immense scale of this project into perspective, the new coke battery is comprised of 84 ovens, each oven opening measuring about 50 feet long by 18 inches wide and 20 feet high supported by refractory heating walls and checker regenerator chambers sitting atop stout, complex concrete foundations. Graycor crews laid over 2.4 million individual refractory bricks in a series of 90 courses to construct the battery. This required skillful management of receiving, sorting and placing each of the different brick shapes. Other work completed by Graycor included the installation of a coke handling system including a screening station and load-out system, a 160-foot low-emission quench tower, waste heat canal and stack, coke oven gas handling system, pushing emission collection system, coke sedimentation pit, and all new coke battery machinery.
One of the more interesting aspects of the project was the setting of the battery equipment. All six major machines were pre-assembled in Europe and shipped by barge up the Monongahela River and placed on the battery by one of the largest cranes in western Pennsylvania. This crane was a perfect fit for the job, because it had enough boom and capacity to lift the equipment from the barge, swing over all existing plant operations and then lower it into its final position on the battery.
This project peaked at 850 on-site workers, with Graycor having 700 direct hire craft personnel and another 150 working through various subcontractors. Approximately 2.3 million man-hours were recorded over the course of the project, without a single lost work day injury.
One of the greatest challenges of the project, Tom Muchesko, Senior Vice President of Graycor Industrial Constructors says “was when U.S. Steel approached us wanting to finish two months early while still maintaining the highest safety standards. We, the team comprised of Graycor, Uhde GmbH, Hatch and U.S. Steel site management accepted their challenge and ultimately achieved their early completion date without a lost-time injury. The success of the project was ultimately due to our commitment to our client and each other.”