Steel

Steelmaking

Steelmaking is the process of creating steel from ferrous scrap and iron. During this process, impurities such as excess carbon, sulphur, phosphorus, silicon, and nitrogen are removed from the raw element, while elements such as vanadium, chromium, nickel, and manganese are added to produce different grades of steel. There are two major processes for making steel: electric arc furnace steel-making, which uses scrap steel as its main feed material, and basic oxygen steel-making, which uses scrap steel and liquid pig-iron from the blast furnace. For most of human history, steel was only able to be made in small quantities, but the invention of the Bessemer process in the 19th century, along with other technology developments, have allowed for the mass production of steel, which has become an integral part of the world’s economy.

Uses

Steel is one of the most widely used materials on the entire earth. Its various forms and alloys allow it to be used for a wide range of applications. It also has a low production cost and is incredibly strong. Steel applications can be essentially divided into five sectors: construction, transport, energy, packaging, and appliances and industry. Construction is by far the biggest. Sustainable steel structures can be built quickly at a low price, and because steel can be designed to meet the requirements of almost anything, it is frequently incorporated into infrastructure. The creation of the high-rise building has led to the rise in the use of steel in construction. The Empire State Building, for example, uses steel as its primary construction material. Steel can also be found in security fencing, tunnels, harbors, piers and suspension cables, bridge deck plates, reinforced concrete, sports stadiums, hospitals, and train stations, among many other buildings. Steel is also used for transportation vehicles. For example, steel accounts for more than 50% of a car’s weight. Different types of steel are used for the interior of the car, the wheel axles, the suspension, engine, and so on. Steel is used for infrastructure for almost all segments of the energy sector, including electric and natural gas, wind power, and nuclear. Steel is also great at protecting goods from light and air exposure, or from water damage, and thus is used as a method of storage. Lastly, almost all household appliances are made from steel, such as the microwave, oven, washing machine, and fridge.

steel rods

Recycle!

Steel is one of the world’s most-recycled materials. It has a recycling rate of over 60% worldwide, and over 80% in the United States. Construction materials, old appliances, automobiles, cans, and containers contribute the greatest weight of re-cycled materials. Steel does not lose any of its inherent physical properties when it is recycled. In fact, it has a drastically reduced material and energy requirement compared with refinement from iron ore, which makes recycling steel not only a way to reduce waste, but also a way to save on energy consumption. The types of scrap used in steel-making include old train rails, reinforcing bars, cast iron, old car bodies, and heavy melting steel, such as columns and beams.