How Is Steel Produced Today?
Steel is one of the world’s most valuable building materials and the United States is leading the charge as one of the largest producers and manufacturers. In fact, the U.S. is one of the top-producing steel suppliers in the world, employing more than 142,000 each year. It’s no wonder that sheet piling companies have become leaders in the field.
While we know how valuable steel truly is, many don’t know how we produce such an essential product. Here are some of the primary facts pertaining to steel production.
It all starts with an ore
Iron ore is a naturally occurring product found in sedimentary rocks. These ores must be mined for by an excavator and extracted via a magnetic roller. Top iron ore sites are located throughout the United States, but they also occur in Brazil, China, and even Australia.
When iron core deposits are discovered, it isn’t in its purest form. It’s often mixed with coke, a type of fuel rich with carbon. However, this mix makes it ideal to form pig iron, which occurs when the iron ore and coke are heated in a blast furnace. Carbon is often added to the iron once impurities are removed for increased strength. Such impurities include nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. These are removed through slag chemistry.
But you can also make it from scrap
Steel is also produced from scrap steel products as a form of recycling. This is essential in limiting construction waste and forming a more eco-friendly production line. This is known as secondary steelmaking, where scrap steel is refined and then melted for reuse. When steel is produced from iron ore, this is known as primary steelmaking.
Basic oxygen steelmaking VS electric arc furnace steelmaking
Primary steelmaking is typically performed in two ways: basic oxygen steelmaking and electric arc furnace steelmaking.
In basic oxygen steelmaking, oxygen is blown into the molten pig iron. This reduces the carbon content in order to change the alloy into steel. In a basic oxygen furnace, refractories are used to line the vessel in order to withstand the increasingly high temperatures of the process. The refractories are typically calcium oxide and magnesium oxide.
Electric arc furnace steelmaking relies on electric arcs, a process which breaks down gas through electric discharge. An electric arc furnace has a capacity of around 100 tones, producing steel every 40 to 50 minutes.
There are also different alloys that can be added to create different grades of steel. Sheet piling companies and steel supplies might add manganese, chromium, and nickel, for example. The resulting steel is then formed into slabs for further processing. More often than not, the steel is turned into steel sheet piles by sheet piling companies who produce cold rolled steel sheets.
For more information on steel production and manufacturing, contact the sheet piling company you can trust: JD Fields.