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Steel Making Process From Start To Finish

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1,950.5 million tonnes. According to the World Steel Association, that’s how much crude steel was produced in 2021. With an increase of 3.7 per cent compared to 2020, steel production is a massive industry that continues to grow yearly.

Led by China, which produces over 1,000 million tonnes almost every year, second on the list is India, making just over 100 million tonnes of steel every year—wondering where Australia sits on that list?

Though we exported 867 million tonnes of iron ore in 2020, we’re grouped somewhere with the ‘other’ countries that, when combined, produced 36.2 million tonnes of crude steel in 2021. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia produces approximately 5.3 million tonnes of steel annually.

With so much steel being produced worldwide, have you ever stopped to think about how it's done? Join Civil Experience as we guide you through the steel-making process from start to finish.

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Steps in Steel Making Process

Steel making process from start to finish | steps in steel making

Here in the civil experience – the best civil engineering blog you will gain a full detailed explanation of the Steps in Steel Making Process.

Step 1: Where does steel come from?

To make steel, you first have to create iron ore. Forged in either a Blast Furnace or Electric Arc Furnace, iron ore is a compound of iron, oxygen and other naturally occurring minerals and is the basis for all primary steelmaking.

Step 2: Primary Steel Making

Blast Furnace

Quick history lesson. The blast furnace is a metallurgical (art and science of extracting metals from their ores and modifying them for use) furnace that first appeared in the 14th century. By the 18th century, furnaces could produce an average of 360 tonnes of iron annually.

Thanks to modern technology, what was once days of hard work is now just a few hours of steelmaking for the largest blast furnace in the world. Located in South Korea, Gwangyang No. 1 can produce nearly 6 million tonnes of iron annually, a massive improvement in steel-making. Owned and operated by POSCO, the furnace was only reignited in June 2013 after its capacity was expanded to 6,000 cubic meters.

Despite the increase in production, a modern blast furnace works much the same way as it did back when.

A blast furnace can produce pig iron using fuel (coke), iron ore, and (flux) limestone. Once melted down into molten iron, the resulting liquid contains about 4-4.5 per cent impurities like carbon, making the metal brittle.

Two methods are used to reduce the impurities. Basic Oxygen Steel (BOS) requires adding scrap (recycled) steel to the molten iron inside the furnace. And the Bessemer process, which forces oxygen through the liquid.

Electric Arc Furnace

Unlike a traditional blast furnace, which uses coal to produce steel, an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) uses an electric current. First appearing in the late 19th century to make phosphorus, EAFs now account for a large portion of global steel production.

Instead of the BOS process utilized in blast furnaces, an EAF uses direct reduced iron (DRI), where recycled steel is fed into an electric arc furnace. The molten iron is heated to around 1650 degrees Celsius and converted into structural steel.

Step 3: Secondary Steel Making

Now that we have a bunch of molten steel, it's time to begin the second steel-making process. For the perfect composition, steel makers manipulate the material through various methods, including degassing, stirring, ladle injection, or argon bubbling.

Step 4: Casting Molten Steel

Now it’s time to solidify your molten steel. Once poured into moulds, the metal rapidly cools and is cut into desired lengths, e.g. slabs, blooms, beams, and billets.

Step 5: Primary Forming

The initial steel shapes are formed through a process called hot rolling into various shape categories, flat, long, seamless tubes, and other speciality products.

Step 6: Steel Fabrication

The final step in the steel production process is a fabrication. Transforming formed steel through various secondary forming techniques like shaping, machining, joining, and coating, steel fabricators convert these raw materials into structural steel products like lintels and T-Bars.

Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Steel Production

For every tonne of steel produced, almost two tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.

For perspective, steel production accounts for 7 and 9 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. So how can we clean up steel production?

Green Steel

Unlike traditional steelmaking processes, which use coal or natural gas to strip oxygen from iron ore to produce metal, green steel production uses hydrogen from renewable energy to achieve the same effect. Except, instead of producing carbon dioxide, the waste product is water.

Unfortunately, even with the use of hydrogen, this form of green steel production still emits greenhouse gasses.

Recycled Steel

Already accounting for 30 per cent of the world’s steel, recycled steel is produced en masse in arc furnaces worldwide. And unlike the two tonnes of carbon dioxide released for every tonne of steel produced, recycled steel production emits only 0.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

While this drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, steel cannot be endlessly recycled. Despite its long lifetime and low turnover rate, new steel must be produced to replace older recycled steel products.

Direct reduced iron

In what could be considered mad science, direct reduced iron technology uses methane gas to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are then used to turn iron ore into iron. Despite using and emitting greenhouse gases, DRI emissions are substantially reduced.

Steel Making In Australia

As we mentioned, Australia produces approximately 5.3 million tonnes of steel annually. Generating an annual revenue of $29 billion, the steel industry in Australia employs roughly 110,000, with the majority of steel production occurring in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Australian steel products are used in various industries, from the largest construction projects to intricate drainage systems.

Steel Builders, for example, might locally source structural steel from an Adelaide mill in Whyalla, including hot and cold rolled steel, universal beams and columns, and square, rectangular hollow sections, alongside other steel products like plates, angles and flats.

Whyalla Steelworks

Producing a whopping 1.2 million tonnes of raw steel each year, Whyalla Steelworks has been a part of Australian iron and steelmaking history for over a hundred years.

Iron ore is mined from the Middleback Range, and once smelted, about 65 per cent of its raw steel is transferred in billet form (a solid length of metal) by rail to the Market Mills steelworks, where it’s converted to finished products in the Whyalla Rolling Mill.

Structural Steel Fabricators & Suppliers

From iron ore to a range of structural steel fabricated products used across residential, commercial and public applications, the steel-making process from start to finish permeates the entire world. Structural steel fabricators and suppliers work together to ensure the seamless flow of raw materials and mass-produced steel products, cast and rolled into a variety of shapes for different purposes and applications.

Steps in Steel Making Process

Step 1: Where does steel come from?
Step 2: Primary Steel Making
Step 3: Secondary Steel Making
Step 4: Casting Molten Steel
Step 5: Primary Forming
Step 6: Steel Fabrication

Where does steel come from?

To make steel, you first have to create iron ore. Forged in either a Blast Furnace or Electric Arc Furnace, iron ore is a compound of iron, oxygen and other naturally occurring minerals and is the basis for all primary steelmaking.

What is Green Steel?

Unlike traditional steelmaking processes, which use coal or natural gas to strip oxygen from iron ore to produce metal, green steel production uses hydrogen from renewable energy to achieve the same effect. Except, instead of producing carbon dioxide, the waste product is water. Unfortunately, even with the use of hydrogen, this form of green steel production still emits greenhouse gasses.

How Recycled Steel is important?

Already accounting for 30 per cent of the world’s steel, recycled steel is produced en masse in arc furnaces worldwide. And unlike the two tonnes of carbon dioxide released for every tonne of steel produced, recycled steel production emits only 0.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide. While this drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, steel cannot be endlessly recycled. Despite its long lifetime and low turnover rate, new steel must be produced to replace older recycled steel products.

Author Aakash Dudhat

It is my pleasure to welcome you to civilexperiences.com, a website created and managed by Dudhat Aakash. In addition to having a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering

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