How Steel is Made Today

To make steel, iron ore is heated and melted in furnaces where the impurities are removed and carbon added.

Today, most steel is made using one of two processes:

             Blast Furnace

             Electric Arc Furnace (EAF)

Blast furnaces use mainly raw materials (iron ore, limestone, and coke) with some scrap steel to make steel. Electric Arc Furnaces use mainly scrap steel.

Blast Furnaces

The blast furnace was invented by an Englishman named Henry Bessemer in the mid-1850s. Bessemer devised a way of producing steel by blowing air through molten iron to oxidize the material and separate impurities.

The modern blast furnace is a large steel shell shaped like a cylinder and lined with heat-resistant brick.

Electric Arc Furnace (EAF)

EAFs are mainly used to produce special quality steels which are alloyed with other metals. EAFs can also be used to produce ordinary, non-alloyed steels.

Unlike the furnaces, EAF’s do not use hot metal. They use scrap steel from recycled products.

The scrap steel is tipped into the EAF from an overhead crane. When the furnace is full, the lid is swung shut covering the top of the furnace. The lid contains electrodes which are lowered into the furnace. The electrodes are charged with a powerful electric current which generates heat, thus melting the scrap.

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