How Exactly Is Steel Produced?

Steel is now one of the most used materials in the world and not without good reason. It’s long-lasting, corrosion resistant, and durable and this makes it the perfect material for a wide variety of objects. From the buildings we’re working or living in to the seating we’re sitting on and even the laptop that I’m typing this blog post on, all contains elements of steel. But how exactly is it produced? Let’s take a closer look.

In essence steel is an alloy which is made primarily of iron. Iron itself is made from raw iron oxides which are found in the Earth’s crust. These raw iron oxides need to be converted and to do this you need another ingredient, carbon. The primary source of carbon of course is coal. So to make steel you have two processes. These are

  • Coke making (from coal) and…

  • Iron making (from iron oxides

The coke making process

Firstly raw coal needs to go through a process known as coking. This is where all the impurities contained within the coal are eradicated to leave pure carbon. This is done by heating coal to around 1000-100°C without oxygen and takes somewhere between 12 and 36 hours to complete. After the heating process, the carbon left is then cooled and transferred to a blast furnace to complete the next stage. The iron making process.

Iron making

Raw iron oxides are fed into a blast furnace during the iron making process, together with the newly carbonated coal, and various other small amounts of minerals such as limestone, which is used to collect any remaining impurities. Air is then heated to 1200°C and is pumped into the chamber via a series of nozzles. The air causes the carbon to burn causing carbon monoxide. This in turn reacts with the iron ore, separating the impurities from the molten iron known as slag. These impurities are drained off leaving just the iron ore.

Oxygen furnace

Although there are other steel production methods the main one used is the Oxygen furnace, so we’re going to concentrate on this. The next stage after the iron ore is produced is to combine the pure ore with various amounts of scrap steel in an oxygen furnace. When oxygen is introduced into the furnace it forces the temperature up to around 1700°C. As the scrap metal melts, it combines with the iron ore and any remaining impurities are oxidised leaving pure liquid steel. Once cooled the liquid steel can be formed into a wide variety of components.

As you can see steel making is a lengthy process. However the end result is a flexible, durable material that’s used in all manner of projects. If you have a steel project and are in need of an experienced fabricator then look no further than Metro Steel. We’ve been serving the residents and businesses of Brisbane and the surrounding areas for many years, so why not contact us on 07 3204 1000 and let us give you a free, no obligation quote today.

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