TECNALIA has developed the ERS process along with AMES
Most mining tools are made of hard metals: the main components are tungsten and cobalt. These two materials are considered to be critical by the European Union, due to the difficulty of supply in Europe and toxicity issues surrounding cobalt.
The FASTRAM initiative replaces these critical mining tool materials. It has developed two advanced sintering technologies up to the pre-industrial level; ERS- Electric Resistance Sintering and RCHP Reactive Hot Pressing.
In the conventional process of manufacturing mining tools, furnaces are used to heat the material for several hours. In the new processes developed, energy is used more efficiently, as only the material to be manufactured is heated rather than the entire structure like in a furnace, significantly reducing both manufacturing time and energy consumption.
Furthermore, mining tools with compositions that fully or partially replace tungsten and cobalt have been developed and validated.
Pilot plant equipment
Two pilot facilities have been developed; one in Barcelona and the other in Finland. This equipment has been used to manufacture a series of tools that have been tested at a mining equipment manufacturer’s plant (METSO). The tools have passed the validation tests.
This new technology helps to reduce European dependence on critical materials. Furthermore, it increases the energy efficiency of processing and, therefore reduces manufacturing costs and environmental impact.
The project has been developed at a European level (Spain and Finland) but it has a global impact as the mining tools are used worldwide. METSO, the mining company that uses the materials exports machinery to mining operations worldwide.
Differential value in new developments
- Implementation of two new processes that are more efficient than conventional processes
- These new processes enable alternative materials to hard metals (WC-Co) to be manufactured using other materials, such as titanium carbide, nickel or iron.
Project Partners: TECNALIA, AMES (Barcelona), VTT (Finland) and EXOTE (Finland)