An alloy made up of iron and less amount of carbon is named as steel. Very less percentage of carbon is included to increase the strength and fracture resistance power as compared to iron. Various other elements are added in the mixture by which steel is formed. Stainless steel is anti-corrosive as well as an antioxidant and thus is manufactured on a large scale. In the mixture of stainless steel, about 11% of chromium is added to make it more tensile. Since stainless steel has less effect of oxidation and corrosion and high tensile strength and also it costs lower than steel, it is used in a large quantity in construction work, automobiles, and other electrical appliances. Iron is the most basic element that is used in making steel. The two allotropes of iron are body-centered cubic allotrope and face-centered cubic allotrope. The amount of carbon in steel formation is almost 2.14% of its total weight. The number of elements used in the production of steel may vary as per the chemical and physical assessment of steel. Steel is among the most commonly produced elements by humans. The average production of steel per year is 1.6 billion tons.
Primary Methods of Production of Steel
Steel is produced from the ore of iron and reduced materials of iron. As it is extracted from iron ore, there are many impurities including nitrogen, silicon, sulfur, and excess of carbon. These impurities are removed from the ore and pure iron metal is obtained, which is required for steel production. The other metals that are used for steel production are alloys of manganese, nickel, chromium, and carbon as well. The quantity of carbon and vanadium is dependent on the quality of steel that is to be produced. The two primary methods of steel production are given below:
Basic oxygen steel production: The carbon-rich iron in the molten state is transformed into steel. The iron used in the production usually contains a high amount of carbon in it, and this type of iron is also known as crude iron. Oxygen is blown in the crude iron, which minimizes the content of carbon in the alloy and results in steel formation. This process is named as a basic process because of the chemical nature of the metal oxides used for producing steel. Major steel production is done using an oxygen furnace. In the year 2011, around 70% of the global production of steel was by this method.
Electric arc furnace: This process involves making of steel from reduced iron or from scrap that is melted by electric arcs. In this process, the initial process is loading the scrap into the iron furnace. Sometimes, the reduced iron is melted before putting it into the electric arc. The gas burners assist the process of melting the pile of scrap in the furnace. The capacity of the furnace in an electric arc furnace is about 100tonnes that takes about 40-50 minutes per process.
Other Methods of Steel Production
The impurities are removed from the ore and pure iron metal is obtained, which is required for steel production. Another method for steel production is the secondary process that is performed in a ladle-shaped vessel. There are several processes that can be used, such as, de-oxidation, degassing of vacuum, adding alloy, removing inclusions, desulphurization, or the method of homogenization. Ladle metallurgical operations are commonly performed nowadays. High grades of steel are produced by controlling ladle metallurgy in which the consistency is very low.
Another method for steel production is the Hlsarna process. The ore of iron is directly turned into liquid iron. The furnace is a type of blast furnace. This process is very energy efficient.
The crude of steel is refined before various processes. In the secondary metallurgy, the agents for making the alloy are added and then dissolved gases in the steel are reduced to ensure the quality of steel. Controlling the limit of gas dissolved in the steel enhances the quality of steel. Gases dissolved in steel are nitrogen and oxygen. Steel is produced from iron ore and scrap material. The capacity of the furnace in an electric arc furnace is about 100tonnes that takes about 40-50 minutes per process.
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