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Steel

Steel is alloys of iron and other elements, mostly carbon and is widely used in construction and other applications due to its high tensile, strength, and low cost.

Although steel had been produced in bloomery furnaces for thousand of years, steel’s use has expanded extensively after more efficient production methods were devised.

Manufacturing Processes for Steel:

There are two major commercial processes for making steel, namely basic oxygen steel making and arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking.

Basic Oxygen Steel Making Process (also known as primary steelmaking process)

• Iron is extracted from iron ores, is mined and refined to remove the oxygen content
This is done by heating the ores with coke and limestone to temperature of about 1600C in a blast furnace

• The resultant material after the heating process is completed is referred to as pig or cast iron and is brittle in consistency. Some carbon residue remains, in addition to other unwanted elements, which must be reduced by further refinement before the material becomes steel

• A controlled system of oxidation is used to manipulate the carbon content. Other impurities must also be removed from the melt so as to achieve the appropriate content.

This process is known as basic due to the chemical nature of the refractories, calcium oxide and magnesium oxide, which line the vessel to withstand the corrosive nature of the molten metal and slag. The slag chemistry of the process is also controlled to ensure that Impurities such as silicon and phosphorus are removed from the metal.

Another process for primary steelmaking is the Hisarna steelmaking process, in which iron ore is processed almost directly into steel. This process is based around a new type of blast furnace called a Cyclone Converter Furnace. This allows the process of manufacturing pig iron pellets to be skipped. The Hisarna steelmaking process is more energy efficient and has a lower carbon footprint than the traditional steelmaking processes.

The vast majority of steel manufactured in the world today is produced using this method.

Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) Steel Making or (secondary steel making process)

• Uses scrap steel or direct reduced iron (DRI) as the main feed materials

• Electrical energy us then used to melt the materials

Secondary steel making involves refining of the crude steel before casting. The various operations are normally carried out in ladles. In this metallurgy, alloying agents are added, dissolved gases in the steel are lowered and inclusions are removed or altered chemically to ensure high quality steel is produced after casting.

Electric Arc Furnace steelmaking process, typically uses furnaces of a capacity of around 100 tonnes, and produces steel every 40 to 50 minutes. EAF or Electrical Arc Furnace steelmaking technology has evolved closer to oxygen steelmaking as more chemical energy is introduced into the process.

The carbon content of steel is crucial to its strength and is lower than 2.11%. This figure is an indicator where in the processing of the materials at 900 C5, a complete phase change can occur.

Plain carbon steels are those in which manganese is the only other remaining element. The general term alloy steel in the industry refers to those steels which have contributors from other elements amounting to 5% by weight or over.

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