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How Steel Is Made : Steel Making Process

Making Steel

Steel is essentially refined iron that also includes small amounts of other elements or alloys. Varying the percentage of iron and other alloys in the mix can produce different types of steel. Typical carbon steel will be 97% iron and 0.05-1% carbon; increasing the carbon content makes the steel harder but more brittle.Other alloys can include chromium, nickel, manganese, silicon, and molybdenum.Alloys can make steel stronger, resistant to corrosion, and able to perform over a wider range of temperatures. The process of making steel involves refining or reducing iron into a purer state and then putting it into a form that can be rolled into various shapes. Two common ways of making steel are the integrated and the minimill routes. The traditional integrated steelmaking route makes steel in a series of cooking stages from the virgin materials of iron ore, coal, and limestone. Chemical energy—from coal and oxygen—is the reductant fuel in the integrated process. The minimill, or electric arc furnace (EAF), steelmaking route, typically makes new steel from scrap steel with electricity as the energy source. Stainless steel is made via a minimill approach but typically uses stainless steel scrap, rather than carbon steel scrap, as an input.

Several new ways to turn iron ore into a scrap “substitute” that can be used in an electric arc furnace are growing in importance. The new scrap substitutes are reduced iron ore, but rather than using a traditional blast furnace for the reduction, variety of other furnaces using coal or natural gas are employed. The goal of a scrap substitute process is to combine the best of both steelmaking approaches: the consistency and low cost of iron from iron ore combined with the lower conversion cost of making steel in an electric arc furnace.

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