How Steel is Made

With all the discussion recently about prices of odd raw materials like coke and iron ore, I thought it might be good to provide some info on how steel is made, so this discussion can be better understood.

Dofasco, a local steel supplier just an hour down the road from us, has this interactive guide to how they make steel.

UK Steel has an excellent set of 4 flow diagrams and corresponding text descriptions. They talk about how the steel is made and common uses for the resulting steel.

[updated] here are the articles I promised earlier in the week:

  • Steel.org (American Iron & Steel Institute) How steel is made (quite a series of articles. If you’re a visual person, like me, some of these articles are long on words and short on diagrams, but others are easier on the eyes)
  • Key-to-Steel.com has this article on Steel Making Processes
  • Steelprofiles.com How Steel is Made article (certain parts of this web site are off limits unless you subscribe … )
  • IISI (International Iron & Steel Institute) worldsteel.org intro to steel in a question and answer format

Some things I learned:

  • Blast furnaces have been around since the 14th century.
  • The hot air blown in the bottom of the furnace (the “blast”) takes 6-8 seconds to get to the top(!)
  • The raw materials dumped in the top take 6-8 hours to descend to the bottom (probably fighting all that rising hot air going the other way).
  • 70% of the steels used in automotive production today did not exist 10 years ago

Here’s an amusing article about a university professor making microwave steel using 6 microwave ovens he bought at WalMart.

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