Steel is a crucial material used almost everywhere, from cars to surgical scalpels, ensuring high durability and reliability. https://metinvestholding.com/ will guide you through the main features and methods of steel production.
What is steel made of?
First of all, let’s address the main question: is steel made from iron? Basically, yes. Steel is a combination of iron and carbon. There’s a huge number of varieties of this material since even a slight change in its composition leads to a change in its qualities.
When was steel made?
People learned to produce steel at the end of the era of Antiquity and in Western Europe, although the earliest known samples were discovered during excavations in Turkey. They’re about 3,800 years old, dating back to 1,800 BC.
How to create steel
There are several methods for producing steel, each with its own specific strengths and weaknesses. The method determines the properties the material can obtain. Here are three ways to make steel.
This technology involves special furnaces that are able to heat the raw materials up to 2,000°C (more than 3,600°F). Considering the methods of steel production, it should be noted that this method also allows for the addition of various components to change the composition of steel.
Electric arc furnace
To ensure the maximum quality of the material, manufacturers use electric furnaces. How is steel manufactured in this case? Through the use of electrical energy to heat the raw material, it’s possible to precisely control the oxidation process and the excretion of slags. In this case, it is important to ensure the appearance of slags because they’re the transmitter of oxygen and heat. This technology allows for reducing the concentration of harmful substances, such as phosphorus and sulfur. The technology is used to produce high-alloyed, corrosion-resistant, heat-resistant, and other types of steel.
Basic oxygen steelmaking
Steel casting is accompanied by the injection of oxygen to boost the oxidation process. This manufacturing method is also used to produce cast iron. This technology has the greatest versatility and allows manufacturers to produce steel with various properties.
How is steel made from iron?
Different technologies are used in steelmaking. During smelting, all the impurities and excess carbon, which becomes the cause of increased material brittleness, turn to slags. So, how is steel made? There are several main stages of the process.
All the components of what is added to iron to make steel are called charge or mixture. At this stage, oxidation of iron leads to deoxidation of its impurities. Much attention is paid to reducing the concentration of harmful particles, such as phosphorus. To ensure the most suitable conditions for the oxidation of harmful impurities, a relatively low temperature is initially maintained. Once iron ore is added, iron slag begins to form. Then, the impurities are removed, leaving only the elements steel is made of.
After the preliminary stage of cleaning, molten metal is heated to a high temperature and starts boiling. Due to boiling, the carbon in the composition begins to actively oxidize. As previously noted, cast iron differs from steel with a too high concentration of carbon, due to which the material becomes brittle and acquires other properties. This problem can be solved by injecting pure oxygen, speeding up the oxidation process. During boiling, bubbles of carbon monoxide are formed to which other impurities adhere, thereby cleaning the boiling mass. At this stage of production, sulfur, which contains harmful impurities, is removed from the composition.
On the one hand, the addition of oxygen ensures the removal of harmful impurities. On the other, it leads to the deterioration in the basic performance characteristics. That’s why, for the purification of the composition from harmful impurities, diffusion deoxidation is carried out which is based on the introduction of a special molten metal. This material contains substances that have about the same effect on the molten alloy as oxygen.
Image Credits: Steel making via Shutterstock/zhang sheng