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MODERN STEELMAKING - PRELUDE

The iron and steel industry enjoys a high priority in the


development plans of most countries , primarily
because of the significant role of steel in their
industrial development and economic growth.
India's ranking in terms of per capita consumption of
steel is at the 15th position internationally at 39 Kg.
From a crude steel output of 6.5 million tonnes since
1965 – 66, India is now the fifth largest producer of
steel in the world with a crude steel production of
50.85 million tonnes per annum superseded only by
China, Japan, USA and Russia. The growth from 2005
to 2006 had been a phenomenal 11.4%.
The role played by steel in the economic development
of a country can be visualized from the fact that even
countries who do not possess any raw materials have
gone ahead with bold plans of steel development
based on imported raw materials.
MODERN STEELMAKING - BASICS

Steel making involves removal of impurities as their


respective oxides (except sulphur which is reduced).
The oxides are eliminated either as gas (e.g. Carbon
as carbon monoxide) or as liquid oxide product of
suitable chemical character known as slag.
Steel can be produced efficiently only if refining is
adequate i.e. Right quality slag is made and clean
slag and metal separation is brought about.
Except sulphur, all the rest (carbon, silicon,
manganese, phosphorus) are removed through
oxidation processes and are favoured under oxidizing
conditions of steel making.
The present requirement of sulphur in steel is
more stringent as continuous casting is invariably
adopted to convert liquid steel into billets/blooms
with a sulphur level of around 0.02% to avoid
transverse cracking.
It is universally accepted that very low sulphur
contents can only be produced through modern
and efficient external de-sulphurisation techniques
for hot metal from blast furnaces.
Calcium carbide and magnesium bearing reagents
injected with a carrier gas are found to lower down
sulphur to extremely low levels.
MODERN STEELMAKING - HISTORY

Modern steel making is supposed to have begun


with the advent of the Bessemer process of
steelmaking in the 1860s in the UK.
This was followed by open hearth processes, but
its productivity could not exceed beyond 35
tons/hour as against that of 500 tons/hour from
LD, OBM or Hybrid processes.
The demands of increased productivity coupled
with lower capital cost led to steelmaking in basic
lined furnaces, making basic slag, using oxygen
as the refining media to be generally known as
basic oxygen furnace (BOF) or LD steel making.
Oxygen steel making is now universally adopted for
steel production since 1950s to maintain efficiency and
economy, processes being faster, economical and
easily controllable.
MODERN STEELMAKING – BOF/LD STEEL
MAKING
In an LD refining is complete in about 20 - 25 minutes
of oxygen blowing and a tap to tap time of 40 to 60
minutes is needed.
The oxidizing conditions in LD are not conducive to
desulphurisation. External desulphurisation of molten
iron in transfer ladles is the answer. Major steel plants
around the world have adopted this process to
achieve a sulphur level below 0.001%.
Use of multi hole lances (4 to 7 hole lances) in larger
converters has cut down blowing time, improved the
yield and increased lining life.
However, 90% of phosphorus in the metal is
removed in LD to 0.025%.
Lining life of 1000 heats are now common. Lining
life of tarred dolomite lining in LD at TATA steel
has achieved the international norm of 1200 heats
with consequent cost advantages amounting to
almost Rs.175-200/Ton of liquid steel.
Methods have been devised for continuous
monitoring of carbon and temperature during the
blow and make mid- course corrections to attain
correct turn- down conditions.
Heat times need to be further improved. Compared
to 30 to 40 minutes obtained in large converters in
other countries, the heat time in India is around
one hour.
By intensifying blowing rates, improving operating
practices and cutting down delays, it should be
possible to reduce heat time to 40 to 50 minutes.
This is significant as even a one minute saving
means an increase in production by 2%.
From less than 3 million tonnes in 1957, there has
been a spectacular rise in world LD capacity to
more than 50% of the total world production of
1244 million tons.
The changing pattern of steel making and the
increasing share of LD steel are illustrated in FIG
1.
CHANGING PATTERN OF STEELMAKING
MODERN STEEL MAKING – OBM/HYBRID
STEEL MAKING
Modifications to the basic LD process (generally
known as BOF) came in the form of OBM process
where oxygen with fluxes are blown through the
bottom of the vessel.
Further modification led to hybrid blowing where
top and bottom blowing simultaneously with
oxygen has been successfully used and has the
potential of being the favoured process for future
steel making.
The OBM process (oxygen bottom maxhutte)
developed in Germany in 1967 claim inherent
advantages of a quieter blow and better mixing
that could be gained by blowing pure oxygen
through
converter bottom along with an endothermic
shielding of the oxygen stream with propane/
natural gas to protect converter bottom
refractories.
The proven advantages of the OBM process over
other oxygen steel making process are :
Installation cost advantage
- of OBM over BOF is between 5% to 8% for a
new facility.
- Lower vessel size (0.6 cum/ton of steel as
against 0.8 cum/ton of steel in case of BOF).
- Low structural cost (no high bay furnace
aisle, no complex elevated bin system).
Improved yield and lower material usage:
- 1.5% to 2% higher yield due to less FeO in slag.
- Better Recovery of ferro alloys due to lower
oxygen level in bath.
- 5% - 10% lower oxygen requirement due to
intimate and thorough mixing of oxygen in bath.
Product quality:
- Phosphorus and sulphur removal very effective.
Production rate:
- Use of oxygen blowing rate 25% higher then
BOF of same capacity shortens tap to tap time
with consequent increase in production rate by
10% compared to BOF.
- Higher metallic yields contribute to increased
productivity.
MODERN STEELMAKING – ELECTRIC ARC
FURNACE (EAF) STEELMAKING
Steelmaking through EAF became a commercial
practice at the beginning of the last century.
In EAF oxidizing and reducing conditions can be
maintained at will during refining and a variety of
steels can be manufactured with very low sulphur and
phosphorus.
In view of the availability of power and that too at
competitive rates with respect to other fuels like oil,
oxygen, bigger EAF have come to use.
From a share of 8% in 1950, EAF share in total global
steel production is now more than 30%.
This share is likely to go up in view of the
increasing cost of fuel vis-a-vis power.
New EAFs are coming up for production of even
mild steels with:
Design Modification
- Rapid melting technology
- Water cooled panels
- Eccentric shell with bottom tapping
- Emission / noise control
Process Modification
- Coupling with ladle refining furnace (LRF, VOD,
AOD, etc.)
- Process automation
- Foamy slag practice
Charge Modification
- Use of hot metal
- Use of DRI (sponge iron)
Capacities have increased to compete with other
steel making processes to obtain desired economy
of production.
Use of ultra high power (UHP) in place of regular
power supply results in saving of melting time
(30%) and of refining time (10%).
Very often UHP furnaces are used for melting
coupled with LRF for final refining. Net total
transformer rating in coupled condition is much
lower.
Roof inserted water- cooled lance for injecting
oxygen in large EAF bring in economy in
manufacture.
Use of hot metal from blast furnace along with
sponge iron result in reduced power consumption
for overall economy.
Heat time is not affected in an EAF when sponge
iron used has a metalization of more than 92%.
Hot metal and sponge iron in EAF route is 30-40%
cheaper then hot metal and BOF combination for
equivalent production capacity.
The clear advantages of the EAF are:
- Yield nearly 91%
- Furnace availability 96%
- Favourable cost pattern of electrical energy
- Wide range of furnace capacity
- Flexibility in terms of irregular production
MODERN STEEL MAKING – INDUCTION
FURNACE STEEL MAKING
For steel making, medium and high frequency
induction furnaces are universally adopted.
It is essentially a process of melting and hardly any
refining take place, a process wherein what goes in
must come out.
Thin layer of dry slag (works as insulating cover) does
not take part in refining.
Limited holding capacity and inability to control the
composition of the melt except through careful
selection of scrap appear as the chief draw backs of
the induction furnace from metallurgical and
commercial viewpoints.
In spite of inherent inadequacies as a melting unit
for making quality steel, growth in mild steel
capacity through induction furnace melting in India
has been a phenomenal 26% in 2005 – 06 over
2004 – 05 as against 7% through EAF melting.
During 2006-07 Mini Steel plants contributed 25.20
million tonnes out of a total of 50.85 million tons
produced in India. EAF's share was 9.8 million
tons. The rest 15.40 million tons being from
induction furnace.
A record number of 787 induction furnace unit
were in existence in 2005-06, secondary refining
being absent in most cases.
Except the Indian subcontinent, nowhere in
the world basic quality steelmaking employ
the induction furnace route.
This stems from the fact that lot of small
time steel players have adopted this route
involving low capital cost and lower
manufacturing cost.
Under the existing conditions, manufacture
of steel through DRI route employing
induction furnace as the only melting unit
can not achieve the norms set by the
relevant BIS standards.
MODERN STEELMAKING – QUALITY AND
COST
Quality means attaining desired specification with
respect to:
Chemical composition
Cleanliness
Gas content
Cost is substantially affected by energy
consumption and cost of raw materials e.g. Use hot
metal in EAF has a distinct cost advantage.
Whole efficiency of a steelmaking shop can be
broadly assessed in terms of
Production Rate
Yield
Quality of Production
Refractory Consumption
LOOKING AHEAD -GROWTH PROSPECTS–
IRON AND STEEL INDUSTRY IN INDIA
While contributing almost 6% of the GNP, crude
steel production has grown at a CAGR
(cumulative annual growth rate) of 10.5% while
capacity has shown a 7.5% growth over a period
of 5 years between 2001-02 to 2005-06.
Given the pace and scale of infrastructure/
construction activities, prospects of future growth
in the steel industries is directly linked with the
growth in its downstream industries i.e. Re-rolling.
The most notable aspect is of course the entry of
global steel majors POSCO, Mittal Steel and
others to set up steel plants in the country, which
are expected to alter the dynamics of the Indian
Iron and Steel Industry upon commencement.
India has attained the status of the fifth largest
crude steel producer in the world in 2007 and this
status will be positively affected once these
expansion projects become operational.
The National Steel Policy has laid down the long–
term vision of growth for the Indian steel Industry
and domestic steel entrepreneurs are pursuing an
expansion plan that is ambitious by all standards.
The Vision: 110 million tonnes of steel production
by 2019 - 20.
SUGGESTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel, an ASTM
Publication.
An Introduction to Modern Steel Making by Dr. R.
H. Tupkary and V. R. Tupkary.
International Symposium on “Fifty Years of
Metallurgy” at BHU in December, 1973. Paper
presented by Dr. M. N. Dastur on “Iron and Steel
Industry in India”.
The ASEA-SKF Steel Refining Process by M.
Tiberg, T. Buhre, H. Herlitz of SKF Helefors Steel
works IFJ, April 1966.
Electric Furnace Round- Up The Magazine of
Steel Producing, June 1966.
Manufacture of Iron and Steel, Vol.I and II by G. R.
Bashforth, An Asia Publication.
M. N. Jha et. Al., Tata Search , 1994, P.15.
Sanjay Kumar et. Al., Tata Search, 1994, P.35.
Iron Making and Steel Making by A. Chatterjee,
1996, 23(4), P. 293.