EPS vs. Acid Pickling Operations Cost Comparison
In this analysis of operational costs of an EPS and a hydrochloric acid pickling line, the primary bases for comparison are a 4-tank acid pickling line versus a 2 Cell EPS line. We have detailed item-by-item breakdown of operating costs for these two systems. In addition, we have average total operations costs from other push-pull acid pickling lines in North America. These lines process low carbon strip averaging between 2.5 and 3.5mm (0.10″ and 0.138″) thick. The owners tell us that when these lines are running well their operating costs are between $14 and $16/ton (based on 2020 energy costs), therefore, we’re using $15/ton as the average variable cost for acid pickling of low carbon strip of this thickness range.
The comparable variable cost for EPS pickling of that material is $12/ton, roughly 20% less than the acid pickling. The analysis below examines the main components of variable operating costs to show how EPS and acid pickling compare. For further insight on EPS Cell costs data, use the EPS Operations Cost Calculator.
4 Tank Acid Pickling Line
2-Cell EPS Coil Line
Summary of Operations Cost Comparison
For pickling of low carbon coils in the range 2.5 – 3.5 mm (0.10″ – 0.138″), relevant acid pickling and EPS variable operating costs are roughly allocated as follows:
|EPS vs. ACID PICKLING - OPERATION COSTS|
|Acid Pickling||EPS Pickling|
We must caution that these costs are representative estimates. Local market conditions will strongly influence energy costs and labor rates. In addition, we obtained acid pickling cost data from just a few picklers and there is much variation in their data, hence the need to use averages.
The good news is EPS is competitive with acid pickling for the scenario where acid pickling’s costs are lowest. If you introduce high carbon, alloy steels and AHSS into the mix, the EPS operations cost advantage grows because an acid pickling line’s output drops dramatically for these grades, while the EPS line speed decreases only modestly (see details). To evaluate this effect more fully, we encourage you to use the EPS Operations Cost Calculator; however, please note that the Cost Calculator models only the EPS CELL operating costs, rather than the costs of the entire EPS Coil Line including terminal equipment.
In addition, while acid pickling is mature technology, EPS is new and continues to improve, driving its operations costs even lower. In fact, we are testing developments in the Production Supplies and Maintenance/Repairs cost categories that we are hopeful will eventually drop EPS variable operating costs to below $10/ton.