Thermal Lancing

Dust Collector Extends Deskulling Operation

A thermal lance is a tool used for cutting that utilizes very high heat in the presence of pressurized oxygen, reaching over 5,000°F (3,000°C) . Due to the physical length of the thermal lance, the operator is able to make the cut without having to be directly next to the operation. 

Using specialized booths, operators are able to deskull the bottom of the steel furnace pots. A skull layer accumulates over time and turns into a mixture of slag and iron. Thermal lances are used to cut out the skulls for maintenance and cleaning.

The skull layer cutting operation has to be conducted inside of a booth since the operation produces a dense orange cloud. Considering the size of steel furnaces, slag pots can weigh over 30 tons, meaning using a normal booth enclosure is difficult and time consuming. AAF provided a solution and designed a new booth on rails, enabling the end user the ability to clean the slag pots easier and more effectively.


An existing dust collection system was under performing due to being undersized for the process it was handling. Large amounts of dust particulates were created by the deskulling process and overloading the existing dust collection system’s ability to provide adequate ventilation airflow. The system had trouble pulse-cleaning the filters, meaning the collector could only operate for short periods, causing the operators to take breaks during skull cutting operations to clean the filters without airflow.


At AAF’s recommendation, the capture velocity was set higher than the normal range to mitigate the large dust cloud volumes that occur during some instances of operation. An AAF OptiFlo® cartridge collector designed for heavy dust loading and sized for a larger airflow provided continuous operation for an entire skull cut process. Additionally, AAF developed a solution, including a movable booth on rails, to speed up the slag pot setup process.


By providing a booth on rails, the operators are able to put slag pots into cutting position faster, reducing down time for the furnace and total cleaning time. With the addition
of the more properly sized OptiFlo® cartridge collector, the dense dust clouds were abated quickly and operated for longer run times.