Next generation takes reins at Novenco
New bake-out oven expands company’s capabilities
Novenco Consultants Limited, a Sudbury-based company specializing in refractory and corrosion resistant masonry, is transitioning to a new generation of management and expertise as well as a broader product and service portfolio.
Changes include the transfer of day-to-day management of the business to Erik Hoffmann, son of company founder Norbert, and the recruitment of former Xstrata Process Support materials engineer Dan Falcioni.
Novenco has also invested in a bake-out oven, giving it complete control over the production of refractory shapes.
“Before, we made the shapes here, cured them and shipped them down south for bake-out,” said Erik. “Now, we can do the casting, curing and bake-out in-house.”
The oven, fabricated from a Sea-Can container, reaches temperatures of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
“The unit is very advanced,” said Erik. “You turn the unit on, program it and let it run for two days. The temperature automatically ramps up and down as required.”
Refractory shapes are called for when standard size refractory won’t do the job. Molds for the shapes are manufactured for Novenco by specialty steel fabricators.
Novenco mixes the material, casts it and cures it for 24 hours in ambient temperatures. The mold is then broken open and the shapes placed on racks in the oven – almost like baking a cake, but at much higher temperatures.
Refractory is used to line furnaces, converters and roasters in smelters, but also has applications in the steelmaking and pulp and paper industries. Other customers include incinerators and crematoria.
Novenco installs the refractory and carries out repairs during shutdowns.
The company also specializes in the installation and repair of acid brick and membranes for sulphuric acid plants among other applications. The bricks are made of clays with special properties and protect the Teflon or mastic membranes that are in contact with the steel tanks from excessive heat.
“The bricks might be 200 degrees Celsius at the face, but 80 degrees at the membrane,” explained Falcioni. “The bricks can last 40 or more years, but can go bad if there’s a process upset.”
Novenco does installations of the refractory and the membranes, as well as repairs and teardowns. “The membrane is the key,” said Falcioni. “That’s why it’s so important to have experienced workers who know what they’re doing.
I did some work for a customer in Chile that spent $2 million on a new acid tower and had to replace it two years later.
The membranes are made of an asphaltic base like a tar that comes in five-gallon pails and is trawled on.”
The slightest pinhole allows the acid to come into contact with the steel and begin corroding it, causing a leak. That’s when Novenco’s phones start ringing.
The company has satellite offices in Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie, 40 full-time employees and as many as 250 during shutdowns. Most of its work is in Canada, but it has also won contracts in Chile and Mexico.
In addition to refractory and corrosion resistant masonry, Novenco applies coatings and epoxies in chemical tanks, on floors to protect concrete from spills and in hospital intensive care units to prevent bacteria growth.