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The Basic Oxygen Steelmaking

The Basic Oxygen Steelmaking

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Published by M. Didik Suryadi

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Published by: M. Didik Suryadi on May 16, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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By John Stubbles, Steel Industry Consultant
Accounting for 60% of the world's total output of crude steel, the BasicOxygen Steelmaking (BOS) process is the dominant steelmakingtechnology. In the U.S., that figure is 54% and slowly declining dueprimarily to the advent of the "Greenfield" electric arc furnace (EAF)flat-rolled mills. However, elsewhere its use is growing. There exist several variations on the BOS process: top blowing, bottomblowing, and a combination of the two. This study will focus only on thetop blowing variation. The Basic Oxygen Steelmaking process differs from the EAF in that it isautogenous, or self-sufficient in energy. The primary raw materials forthe BOP are 70-80% liquid hot metal from the blast furnace and thebalance is steel scrap. These are charged into the Basic OxygenFurnace (BOF) vessel. Oxygen (>99.5% pure) is "blown" into the BOF atsupersonic velocities. It oxidizes the carbon and silicon contained in thehot metal liberating great quantities of heat which melts the scrap. There are lesser energy contributions from the oxidation of iron,
Figure 1:
Charging aisle of a Basic Oxygen Steelmaking Plant showingscrap being charged into the BOF vessel. A ladle full of hot metal isseen to the right.
manganese, and phosphorus. The post combustion of carbon monoxideas it exits the vessel also transmits heat back to the bath. The product of the BOS is molten steel with a specified chemicalanlaysis at 2900°F-3000°F. From here it may undergo further refining ina secondary refining process or be sent directly to the continuouscaster where it is solidified into semifinished shapes: blooms, billets, orslabs.
refers to the magnesia (MgO) refractory lining which wearsthrough contact with hot, basic slags. These slags are required toremove phosphorus and sulfur from the molten charge.BOF heat sizes in the U.S. are typically around 250 tons, and tap-to-taptimes are about 40 minutes, of which 50% is "blowing time". This rateof production made the process compatible with the continuous castingof slabs, which in turn had an enormous beneficial impact on yieldsfrom crude steel to shipped product, and on downstream flat-rolledquality.
BOS process replaced open hearth steelmaking. The process predatedcontinuous casting. As a consequence, ladle sizes remained unchangedin the renovated open hearth shops and ingot pouring aisles were builtin the new shops. Six-story buildings are needed to house the BasicOxygen Furnace (BOF) vessels to accommodate the long oxygen lancesthat are lowered and raised from the BOF vessel and the elevated alloyand flux bins. Since the BOS process increases productivity by almostan order of magnitude, generally only two BOFs were required toreplace a dozen open hearth furnaces.Some dimensions of a typical 250 ton BOF vessel in the U.S. are:height 34 feet, outside diameter 26 feet, barrel lining thickness 3 feet,and working volume 8000 cubic feet. A control pulpit is usually locatedbetween the vessels. Unlike the open hearth, the BOF operation isconducted almost "in the dark" using mimics and screens to determinevessel inclination, additions, lance height, oxygen flow etc.Once the hot metal temperature and chemical analaysis of the blastfurnace hot metal are known, a computer charge models determinethe optimum proportions of scrap and hot metal, flux additions, lanceheight and oxygen blowing time.
A "heat" begins when the BOF vessel is tilted about 45 degreestowards the charging aisle and scrap charge (about 25 to 30% of theheat weight) is dumped from a charging box into the mouth of thecylindrical BOF. The hot metal is immediately poured directly onto thescrap from a transfer ladle. Fumes and kish (graphite flakes from thecarbon saturated hot metal) are emitted from the vessel's mouth andcollected by the pollution control system. Charging takes a couple of minutes. Then the vessel is rotated back to the vertical position andlime/dolomite fluxes are dropped onto the charge from overhead binswhile the lance is lowered to a few feet above the bottom of the vessel. The lance is water-cooled with a multi-hole copper tip. Through thislance, oxygen of greater than 99.5% purity is blown into the mix. If theoxygen is lower in purity, nitrogen levels at tap become unacceptable.As blowing begins, an ear-piercing shriek is heard. This is soon muffled
Figure 2:
BOF Vessel in Its Operating Positions. (Ref: Making, Shaping,and Treating of Steel, 11th Edition, Steelmaking And Refining Volume.AISE Steel Foundation, 1998, Pittsburgh PA)

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