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ESDEP WG 1A
STEEL CONSTRUCTION:
ECONOMIC & COMMERCIAL FACTORS
OBJECTIVE/SCOPE
To introduce the history of steelmaking and steelmaking today. To describe how steel is produced and the standardisation of steel products. To summarise the consumption
of steel in building and civil engineering worldwide.
PREREQUISITES
Lecture 1A.1: Introduction to Steel's Role in Construction in Europe
RELATED LECTURES
Lecture 1A.3: Introduction to Structural Steel Costs
Lecture 1A.4: The European Building Market
SUMMARY
The history of steelmaking is introduced and the developments described which have led to modern steel production. The essentials of modern production are summarised.
World production of steel is described and the European standardisation of steel products (Euronorms) is introduced. The use of steel in civil engineering and building in
the different regions of the world is discussed.
1. A BRIEF HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF STEELMAKING
Of the construction materials in common use, steel is the one which offers the greatest load resistance for the smallest section. It is primarily an alloy of iron and carbon.
The production of industrial steel is relatively recent, dating back only one hundred and twenty years or so. However, ferrous metals, of which the main component is iron,
have been known since antiquity. The first examples were of iron found in its natural state in Sumer, capital of the ancient Babylonian civilization. The first proof of actual
production of iron goes back to the Chalybes, a tribe living on the South Coast of the Black Sea around the XVIIth Century BC.
The use of iron spread into Europe and Asia, but it was only in the Middle Ages that any significant improvements in manufacturing can be noted with the introduction of
tuyeres, which blew air frombellows powered by hydraulic energy. Before the discovery of steel, iron was frequently used in the construction of buildings, bridges,
railway stations, etc. In the year 1855 an Englishman by the name of Bessemer improved the process of purifying pig iron by blowing air in at great pressure. Over the
next 25 years, a Frenchman Emile Martin then two Englishmen, Thomas and Gilchrist, introduced further improvements which allowed us to make the transition fromiron
to the modern period of steel.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the use of iron in construction was prohibited; in accordance with the new regulations only steel could be used. Nevertheless, to this
day there exist numerous structures made of iron which are still in service. Renovation of structures built in the second half of the 19th century is to be expected. The
most important question to address is whether the structural material is iron or steel. In order to answer this, a sample must be taken and laboratory tests performed in
order to determine the mechanical and chemical properties of the metal. These results will enable us to define the techniques which need to be adopted, particularly in
relation to welding.
Further developments in substituting coal and subsequently coke for charcoal prepared the way for industrial steel production which began in the middle of the XIXth
century AD.
2. STEELMAKING TODAY (PERFORMANCE AND OUTPUT)
Even though the same principles initially developed over 100 years ago are still used in the majority of steel production, instruments and techniques have developed
considerably:
in less than a century, blast furnace capacity has been increased by a factor of 100;
production of 6 to 10 million tonnes per year has become normal for a steelmaking plant;
some operations, previously independent, are now linked into one uninterrupted operation;
the intensive use of oxygen was one of the outstanding steps;
the development of computers has enabled the automation of much of the production and control equipment.
The developments have resulted in:
more sophisticated products with better control of grades and qualities;
a notable improvement in productivity: 4 hours to produce a tonne of crude steel today, compared to 9,8 hours 15 years ago;
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a nearly constant price over a long period of years;
pure and better weldable materials (no preheating);
quenched and tempered steels with higher strengths;
higher impact values and better LOD tests (for offshore structures).
an ability to respond to the changing needs of customers;
better management of products and flow of stock;
improvements, through the creation of new jobs, in the qualifications of people working in the steelmaking industry. Technical skills have taken over fromphysical
effort. One of the results has been to provide a smaller but more stable workforce and therefore reduced production costs. The cutbacks in the workforce amounted
to about one third in 14 years (Figure 1);
provision of a wide range of specifically dimensioned products for construction, with thicknesses ranging from0,7 mmto 150 mm; increased lengths and weights of
long products; with maximumimperfections (out-of-straightness) of 7 mm/m.
These factors have made it possible to simplify construction thus reducing fabrication, joining and assembly costs whilst at the same time enabling improvements in
aesthetic appearance.
For example in bridge construction, the main beamof a bridge made 100 years ago consisted of a riveted combination of flats and universal sections. Today, a single plate
with a variable thickness permits the optimisation of the section and hence a saving in weight and manufacturing costs. In addition the maintenance of the bridge is
reduced since surfaces are smooth and encourage the rapid dispersal of water.
All of these factors have made it possible to maintain competitive prices and provide the quality demanded by users.
3. STEELMAKING IN THE WORLD AND IN EUROPE
3.1 Production
3.1.1 World production
In 1989, world crude steel output was approximately 784 million tonnes.
Note: "Crude steel" refer to products which appear either in a liquid form(ready to cast) or in the formof solid ingots (obtained by liquid steel cast into a mould to be
processed later on).
The world steel producers are found geographically as follows (Figure 2):
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Far East: Japan (108 MT) - China (61 MT) - South Korea (22 MT) 191 MT 24,5%
Former USSR 161 MT 20,0%
EEC12 140 MT 18,0%
USA 89 MT 11,5%
Other countries 203 MT 26,0%
Total 784 MT

The graph of world raw steel production reflects the development of the world economy (Figure 3).
3.1.2 International trade
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In 1988, more than a fifth of the steel produced in the world (167MT out of 780) was involved in international trade. Because of its high specific value i.e., the ratio
between the price per ton and the density, steel is a product that "travels" more easily than other materials such as aluminium, wood, cement or glass. Nevertheless, most
international steel trade is over short and middle distances, and seldomover long distances. Exchanges are essentially intra-community exchanges - 41 MT out of the
above-mentioned 167 MT were exchanged between the different EEC countries and, on a larger scale, 83 MT between continental European countries. Moreover, 23 MT
of steel were exchanged between Asia and Australasia.
3.2 Consumption
The growth of apparent raw steel consumption shows that the need for steel is rising in the world (Figure 4).
Improvements in the making of steel and its intrinsic properties have led to a decrease in its specific consumption, i.e. the weight of steel used for a specific purpose.
Although Figure 4 indicates only a slow increase in raw steel consumption, greater use occurs because the improved quality of products, reduces the weight of steel in
them.
Global changes in the world economy, the possible growth of steel needs, the developing areas and the arrival of "new" producers are all factors that influence the
economy of the steel industry.
Certain patterns of production have gradually appeared:
Developing countries disposing of raw materials, make and export semi-finished products and simple products for direct use, such as rebars.
Industrialized countries concentrate on the production of more sophisticated products with a higher added value due to their appearance (for example coated sheets)
or their composition (for example stainless steel).
3.3 Steelmaking and the Environment
The environmental nuisance created by the steel industry has been considerably reduced. Considerable investment has been made in connection with environmental
factors:
industrial waters are recycled;
air is filtered;
gases are used as an energy source;
slag is used for substructure construction;
scrap steel is reprocessed.
4. HOW IS STEEL PRODUCED?
4.1 General
The basis for industrial production of steel is pig iron, and although the fundamentals of the production method are largely unchanged, instruments and techniques of
production have been greatly improved.
There are several types of steel. Depending on whether the metal will be used, for example, in building, electronics, automobile or packaging industries, it will require
suitable physical, chemical and mechanical properties for that purpose. These properties are obtained through:
the adjustment of the carbon content: the lower it is, the more malleable the steel is; the higher it is, the more resistant and harder the steel is (the hardening or
"mildening" can also be adjusted using some additional elements).
4.2 Steelmaking
Iron is, as a chemical element (Fe), the main constituent of pig iron (96% iron and 3-4% carbon). It provides the basis for the refining of steel.
Iron, pig iron and steel are three manufactured products that appeared in this order in the history of materials. They represent different chemical combinations of iron and
carbon. The carbon content determines the nature of very different products:
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Iron: minute carbon content. As a soft and malleable material it is the ancestor of "mild" steel (today: "low-carbon steel"). It was formed initially by forging and then
later by rolling.
Pig iron: high carbon content (from2 to 5-6%). There are several qualities of pig iron, from"hard and resistant" to "malleable and ductile". It is formed by casting.
Steel: carbon content fromabout 0,03% to 2% maximum. It is malleable and resistant. It is formed, in its solid state, by rolling (squeezing between two cylinders in
order to make it thinner and stretch it) or forging.
There are three steps in the steelmaking process:
Fromraw materials to liquid steel 1.
aim: to adjust the chemical content of the steel
two processes: "integrated" steelmaking
"electric" steelmaking.

Fromliquid steel to semi-finished products 2.
aim: to solidify the steel into blanks
two processes: continuous casting
ingot casting.

Fromsemi-finished products to finished products 3.
aim: to shape and size through rolling, and finish for sale.
two groups of products: long products (beams, bars, wire)
flat products (plate, sheet, coil).
Note: Not all steels are formed by rolling; they may also be forged, cast or manufactured fromalloy powders.
The process is described in Lecture 2.2.
5. EUROPEAN STANDARDIZATION OF STEEL PRODUCTS
5.1 Standardization Process
Steel products have been standardized in order to ensure a common language between producers and customers of steel products. Since the beginning of the XXth
century, countries have developed their own standards defining and classifying steel products. The creation of the EEC has made it necessary to establish common
standards named "European Norms" (EN).
5.1.1 The establishment of European Norms within member states for steel products
The "Commission de Coordination et de Normalisation des Produits Sidrurgiques" COCOR, founded in 1953 to service the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC),
was commissioned to coordinate standards. Since 1965 COCOR has been placed under the authority of the European Commission and has published about 175
Euronorms. Each country is free to adopt or not, fully or partially, the Euronorms and Background Documents.
The completion of the European Single Market scheduled to occur at the end of 1992 has required the speeding up of standardization. The Commission created and
financed, within COCOR, an independent technical department exclusively devoted to standardization activities: the ECISS (European Committee for Iron and Steel
Standardization). ECISS, with the assistance of Technical Committees (TC), has developed documents which are submitted to COCOR for approval before being proposed
to the CEN (Comite European de Normalisation) for adoption as Euronorms.
When a Euronorm(EN) is adopted by the CEN members, it must be fully applied as a national normby all EEC Countries (even if they voted against it) and by EFTA
members which voted for it. The EN, once adopted, invalidates and replaces the Euronormand the corresponding national standard.
5.2 Contents of the Euronorms (EN) for Steel
The EN is concerned with the standardization of the manufacture, chemical composition and mechanical characteristics of steel products. By way of illustration, consider
one aspect of these norms, the way steels are designated.
The specification of steel quality is essentially composed of:
the normnumber;
the Fe symbol;
the minimumguaranteed tensile strength expressed in N/mm
2
.
Example: A hot-rolled non-alloy structural steel (for use in the manufacture of welded or assembled structural elements to be used at ambient temperatures) is designated:
EN 10 025 S355
The designation may be followed by symbols concerning:
the weldability and guaranteed values of impact energy (B);
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the deoxidation method used, if applicable (FU);
the steel's suitability for a particular application, if applicable (KP);
whether the steel is delivered in an effectively normalised condition (N).
The range of symbols is detailed, for this example, in the text of EN 10 025.
The relevant Euronorms and current national equivalents are shown in Table 1.
Table 1 Corresponding Table of Euronorms, ISO Standards and National Standards for EC Countries
European
Standard
EH
Euronorm(I) ISO
Standard
Germany
DIN
BelgiumNBN (2) Denmark
DS
Spain
UNE (3)
France
NF
Greece Italy
UNI
Ireland Luxembourg Netherlands
NEN
Portugal
NP
UK
BS (4)

17-1970 8457TI 59110 =524

38089 A 45-051

5598

EU 17 =330


18-1979 377 50125 A 03-001

3630038400 A 03-111

UNI-EU 18

EU 18 2451 4360

19-1957 657/8 1025T5 533

38526 A 45-205

5398

EU 19 2116


21-1978 404 17010500-49 A 02-001

38007 A 03-115

UNI-EU 21

EU 21 2149


22-1970 783 50145 A 11-201

7223 A 03-351

3918

EU 22

3688/1

23-1971 642 50191 A 11-181

7279 A 04-303

3150

4437

24-1962 DP 657/10 1025T11028 632-01

3852136522 A 45-210

5879
5680

EU 24

4
10025 (25-1986)
630-1052
4995
17100 A 21-101

38080 A 35-501

7070

EU 25 1729 / 4360

27-1974 DIR 4949

147

38009 A 02-005

UNI-EU 27

EU 27 1818


28-1985 883/12604/4 17155 / 829
/ 830

38087/1 A 38-205A
38-208

7070

EU 28

=1501/1-2

29-1981 7452 1543 =A 43-101

38559 A 48-503A
46-505

UNI-EU 29

EU 29

1501/1/4360

30-1969

17100
(=EU 25=
EU 30)

A 33-101

3063

EU 30


31-1969

A 43-301

7063

EU 31

/ 970/1

34-1962 657/13 1025T2T3et
T4
=632-02

3652736528
36529
A 45-211

5397

EU 34 2117 4

36-1983 437 EU / 271

7014 A 06-301

UNI-ISO 437

62005381
6. STEEL IN CIVIL ENGINEERING AND BUILDING ACTIVITIES
6.1 Steel in Construction
In construction, the penetration of steel in civil engineering and building activities is very variable across the regions of the world. In 1988 steel consumption in three
major regions of the world was as shown in Table 2.
Table 2 Steel consumption in major regions
(Kt) Kg/inhabitant
JAPAN
USA
WESTERN EUROPE
9050/10400
(1)
5200
5700/6200
74/85
21
17/18
(1) with or without "composite construction"
For each type of work, these consumptions are spread across different types of construction as shown in Table 3.
Table 3 Steel consumption by type of construction
(% tonnages) JAPAN USA EUROPE
housing
industrial
other buildings
pylons
bridges and hydraulic
engineering
21
34
34
3
8
4
33
45
5
13
2
58
31
5
4
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TOTAL 100 100 100
Table 3 shows, for all constructional steelwork, the particular importance of:
housing in Japan;
tertiary buildings in the USA;
industrial buildings in Europe.
There are marked differences between countries in the consumption of constructional steelwork, for example in Europe in 1988 (Table 4).
Table 4 Consumption of constructional steelwork (1988)
(Kt) Kg/inhabitant
United Kingdom
West Germany
France
Italy
Spain
Netherlands
Luxembourg
Sweden
Finland
Switzerland
Portugal
Austria
Norway
Denmark
Greece
Ireland
Belgium
1227
1045
683
570
500
727
100
94
185
89
100
94
80
73
50
60
195
22
16
15
11
13
31
28
17
25
18
10
11
20
11
5
17
28
estimated TOTAL 5867 17
Source: European Convention for Constructional Steelwork
Several "small" countries have a very high constructional steelwork consumption/ inhabitant (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Norway). In the United
Kingdom, which is the European country with the largest constructional steelwork industry, the use of steelwork/inhabitant is higher than in any other major country.
Steel product tonnages of all construction steelwork are globally distributed as follows:
Steel products:
Hot rolled sections H, I, U, L about 60%
Plates about 20%
First processing products:
Coated sheets,
Cold rolled sections, pipes about 20%.
7. CONCLUDING SUMMARY
Although iron has been in use for a very long time, steel production is relatively recent.
Developments in production methods have improved both efficiency and quality. Energy consumption has been reduced and environmental factors improved.
European Norms are being established to achieve common standards throughout Europe.
Steel consumption shows some marked difference between individual countries, worldwide and within Europe.
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