Iron and Steel Production

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    MEC 3103 ENGINEERING MATERIALS SCIENCE II IRON AND STEEL PRODUCTION PROCESS DESCRIPTION The production of steel at an integrated iron and steel plant is accomplished using several interrelated processes. The major operations are: (1) coke production, (2) sinter production, (3) iron production, (4) iron preparation, (5) steel production, (6) semifinished product preparation, (7) finished product preparation, (8) heat and electricity supply, and (9) handling and transport of raw, intermediate, and waste materials. The interrelation of these operations is depicted in a general flow diagram of the iron and steel industry in Figure 1. 1.   Sinter Production The sintering process converts fine-sized raw materials, including iron ore, coke breeze, limestone, mill scale, and flue dust, into an agglomerated product, sinter, of suitable size for charging into the blast furnace. The raw materials are sometimes mixed with water to provide a cohesive matrix, and then placed on a continuous, travelling grate called the sinter strand. A  burner hood, at the beginning of the sinter strand ignites the coke in the mixture, after which the combustion is self-supporting and it provides sufficient heat, 1300 to 1480°C (2400 to 2700°F), to cause surface melting and agglomeration of the mix. On the underside of the sinter strand is a series of wind boxes that draw combusted air down through the material bed into a common duct, leading to a gas cleaning device. The fused sinter is discharged at the end of the sinter strand, where it is crushed and screened. Undersize sinter is recycled to the mixing mill and back to the strand. The remaining sinter product is cooled in open air or in a circular cooler with water sprays or mechanical fans. The cooled sinter is crushed and screened for a final time, then the fines are recycled, and the product is sent to be charged to the blast furnaces. Generally, 2.3 Mg (2.5 tons) of raw materials, including water and fuel, are required to produce 0.9 Mg (1 ton) of  product sinter. 2.   Iron Production Iron is produced in blast furnaces by the reduction of iron bearing materials with a hot gas. The large, refractory lined furnace is charged through its top with iron as ore, pellets, and/or sinter; flux as limestone, dolomite, and sinter; and coke for fuel. Iron oxides, coke and fluxes react with the blast air to form molten reduced iron, carbon monoxide (CO), and slag. The molten iron and slag collect in the hearth at the base of the furnace. The byproduct gas is collected through offtakes located at the top of the furnace and is recovered for use as fuel. The production of 1 ton of iron requires 1.4 tons of ore or other iron bearing material; 0.5 to 0.65 tons of coke; 0.25 tons of limestone or dolomite; and 1.8 to 2 tons of air. Byproducts consist of 0.2 to 0.4 tons of slag, and 2.5 to 3.5 tons of blast furnace gas containing up to 100 pounds (lb) of dust. The molten iron and slag are removed, or cast, from the furnace periodically. The casting process  begins with drilling a hole, called the tap hole, into the clay-filled iron notch at the base of the    hearth. During casting, molten iron flows into runners that lead to transport ladles. Slag also flows into the clay-filled iron notch at the base of the hearth. During casting, molten iron flows into runners that lead to transport ladles. Slag also flows from the furnace, and is directed through separate runners to a slag pit adjacent to the cast house, or into slag pots for transport to a remote slag pit.    Figure 1. General flow diagram for the iron and steel industry.    At the conclusion of the cast, the taphole is replugged with clay. The area around the base of the furnace, including all iron and slag runners, is enclosed by a casthouse. The blast furnace  byproduct gas, which is collected from the furnace top, contains CO and particulate. Because of its high CO content, this blast furnace gas has a low heating value, about 2790 to 3350 joules per liter (J/L) and is used as a fuel within the steel plant. Before it can be efficiently oxidized, however, the gas must be cleaned of particulate. Initially, the gases pass through a settling chamber or dry cyclone to remove about 60 percent of the particulate. Next, the gases undergo a 1- or 2-stage cleaning operation. The primary cleaner is normally a wet scrubber, which removes about 90 percent of the remaining particulate. The secondary cleaner is a high-energy wet scrubber (usually a venturi) or an electrostatic precipitator, either of which can remove up to 90  percent of the particulate that eludes the primary cleaner. Together these control devices provide a clean fuel of less than 0.05 grams per cubic meter (g/m 3 ). A portion of this gas is fired in the  blast furnace stoves to preheat the blast air, and the rest is used in other plant operations. 3.   Iron Preparation Hot Metal Desulfurization Sulfur in the molten iron is sometimes reduced before charging into the steelmaking furnace by adding reagents. The reaction forms a floating slag which can be skimmed off. Desulfurization may be performed in the hot metal transfer (torpedo) car at a location between the blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace (BOF), or it may be done in the hot metal transfer (torpedo) ladle at a station inside the BOF shop. The most common reagents are powdered calcium carbide (CaC 2 ) and calcium carbonate (CaCO 3 ) or salt-coated magnesium granules. Powdered reagents are injected into the metal through a lance with high-pressure nitrogen. The process duration varies with the injection rate, hot metal chemistry, and desired final sulfur content, and is in the range of 5 to 30 minutes. 4.   Steelmaking Process  —   Basic Oxygen Furnaces In the basic oxygen process (BOP), molten iron from a blast furnace and iron scrap are refined in a furnace by lancing (or injecting) high-purity oxygen. The input material is typically 70 percent molten metal and 30 percent scrap metal. The oxygen reacts with carbon and other impurities to remove them from the metal. The reactions are exothermic, i.e., no external heat source is necessary to melt the scrap and to raise the temperature of the metal to the desired range for tapping. The large quantities of CO produced by the reactions in the BOF can be controlled by combustion at the mouth of the furnace and then vented to gas cleaning devices, as with open hoods, or combustion can be suppressed at the furnace mouth, as with closed hoods. BOP steelmaking is conducted in large (up to 363 Mg [400 ton] capacity) refractory lined pear shaped furnaces. There are 2 major variations of the process. Conventional BOFs have oxygen blown into the top of the furnace through a water-cooled lance. In the newer, Quelle Basic Oxygen  process (Q-BOP), oxygen is injected through tuyeres located in the bottom of the furnace. A typical BOF cycle consists of the scrap charge, hot metal charge, oxygen blow (refining) period, testing for temperature and chemical composition of the steel, alloy additions and reblows (if necessary), tapping, and slagging. The full furnace cycle typically ranges from 25 to 45 minutes.
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