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Ferrous is Ferrous, Non-Ferrous is Non-Ferrous, and Never the Twain Shall Meet?

Rob Boom
Tata Steel Research, Development & Technology, IJmuiden*
Materials innovation institute M2i, Department Materials Science and Engineering
Delft University of Technology, Delft,
The Netherlands
*Until 1 April 2011

Ironmaking, steelmaking, aluminium production, thermodynamics, inclusions

Table 1.

The role of iron and steel in the metals world is so dominant that
this world is divided into a ferrous and a non-ferrous part, the
latter without a real name. In terms of crude metal production
steel with a peak figure of 1414 million tonnes in 2010 is by far
number one, followed by aluminium with a mere 27 million
tonnes in the same year. Kipling was right in stating that iron is
master of them all. Will his famous statement about East and West
mutatis mutandis also apply to ferrous and non-ferrous metals?
What can the steel industry learn from the non-ferrous industry in
the field of process metallurgy and vice versa?
Examples of synergy between steel and aluminium will be
presented out of the history of former Hoogovens from the
Netherlands with the best of two metals approach and of the early
days of Corus as the future in metals.
In the framework of ULCOS, the European concerted action to
develop a process for ultra-low CO2 steelmaking, an overview
was generated of innovative options for steel production. What
was the interaction with non-ferrous practice in this project phase?
One of the future ways of iron production selected by the ULCOS
team is electrolysis, where the vast experience in primary
aluminium and magnesium production can be of great value.
What to think about the complaint of the blast furnace iron makers
about the decreasing iron content of iron ore if we mirror that to
metal contents in nickel, aluminium and copper ores?
There certainly is a bright future for research institutes covering
both ferrous and non-ferrous process metallurgy and nurturing
mutual interaction between ferrous and non-ferrous as well as
industry and academia, as is proven by the Dutch Materials
innovation institute M2i and McGills Metals Processing Centre

The world of metals is divided into two different camps: iron and
steel under the banner of ferrous metals, and all other metals
unified under the banner of non-ferrous. In the Periodic Table 79
of the elements (Figure 1) are metallic in the solid state, and if we
consider the liquid state we can add another two elements, silicon
and germanium, to the family of metals. Another 6 elements
behave metallic in an alloy. It implies that more than 80 metals
are just named after what they are not: ferrous! The explanation of
this curious phenomenon must be found in the strategic
importance of iron and steel for the economy, military power and
security, and infrastructure of nations since the industrial
revolution. It is also clear from the world annular production
figures for the most important construction metals as presented in



Metallic in alloy

Table 1. World production of metals in 2010 in ktonnes/year

1.413.596 WorldSteelAssociation

26.707 InternationalAluminium
12.860 InternationalLeadandZinc
9.455 InternationalLeadandZinc
1.658 InternationalCopperStudy
1.400 InternationalNickelStudy
708 ResearchinChina

100 Rosskil

The annual figure for crude steel production in 2010 is easy to

find from the data supplied by the World Steel Association, the
former International Iron and Steel Institute (IISI). To find
accurate data for the non-ferrous metals is difficult and requires
often membership of institutions. Specialised bureaus provide
overview reports at a cost. One might conclude that iron and steel
data are considered public property whilst the data for non-ferrous


metals are restricted to privileged companies or individuals. The

intrinsic value of the different metals expressed in currency per kg
explains part of the difference in accessibility. Strategic
arguments from governments related to defence policy or
materials scarcity might play another role.

Metal extraction
Primary metals production through metal extraction from ores is
the only way to produce virgin metals. The starting situation for
iron and steel is different from that for the non-ferrous metals as
the metal content of iron ores is far higher than the metal content
of most non-ferrous metals as indicated in Table 2. Economic
exploitation is directly connected to the metals market price.

developed over a period of several hundred years (Figure 3). The

furnace is charged in alternate layers with a layer of iron ore in the
form of sinter agglomerate, pellets or lumps and a next layer of
coke as reductant. Hot blast is injected and supplies the necessary
heat to make the reduction reactions run. To reduce the coke
consumption pulverised coal is injected together with pure oxygen
enriched hot blast into the blast tuyeres. Output of the blast
furnace is liquid iron saturated with carbon and containing silicon,
manganese, phosphorus, sulphur and small amounts of other
elements; liquid slag that is used as base for cement production;
and top gas that is used for furnace heating or power generation.

Table 2. Metal content for economically exploitable ores















Low grade ores have to be upgraded by mineral processing which

in the case of iron ore is often restricted to crushing, sieving and
magnetic separation. For many non-ferrous metals sophisticated
ore beneficiation processes (such as multiple flotation treatments)
are an absolute prerequisite for economic exploitation of ore
deposits. For iron ore upgrading lessons could be learned from
non-ferrous ore practice for example to separate aluminium oxides
or zinc oxides from iron oxides by physical processes. This would
help India and Vietnam to beneficiate their iron ore deposits and
thus to create better starting positions for the ironmaking blast
furnace process.
The extraction of a metal from its natural ores by pyrometallurgical methods is based on reactions between the ore and a
reactant that has a higher affinity to the non-metallic component
of the ore than the metal at the conditions of the reaction. When
the ore is a metal oxide and carbon is the reductant, through the
Ellingham diagram (Figure 2) the minimum temperature can be
deduced from where the oxide is reduced to metal by carbon
under formation of CO. It is the temperature where the G
values for the formation of the metal oxide and CO are equal, so
where the MeyOx curve intersects the CO curve. The diagram is
based upon equilibrium thermodynamics no statement about
kinetics is given. For reasons of simplicity the Boudouard reaction
C + CO22CO is not included.

For iron this minimum reduction temperature by CO gas is around
700 C, technologically not very problematic. Therefore various
direct reduction processes for iron ore have been developed
making use of carbon or hydrocarbons as reductant, operating at
temperatures slightly above 700 C, and producing iron sponge
(direct reduced iron DRI or hot briquetted iron HBI).
Liquid iron is produced by the blast furnace process that is being

Figure 2. Ellingham diagram for the free energy of

formation (G) of metallic oxides and CO versus
The blast furnace is worldwide the main reactor producing virgin
iron at the same time generating 1.5 to 2.5 tonne CO2 per tonne of
hot metal. With the challenging objective to reduce in 2050 with
50 % the CO2 production per tonne of steel over the total
production chain from raw material to end product, a huge
European project ULCOS (Ultra Low Carbon dioxide
Steelmaking) was initiated involving partners from the steel
industry, suppliers, equipment builders, research institutes and
One of the outcomes [1] is the full top gas recycled blast furnace
(TGR-BF) whereby the hot blast is replaced by pure oxygen and
the CO in the top gas is recycled into the blast furnace through a
secondary ring of tuyeres (Figure 4). To this end the TGR-BF is
equipped with CO2-capturing capabilities based on Vacuum
Swing Absorption technology. The CO2 is then ready to be stored
and prevented from adding to the greenhouse effect. Pilot plant
tests at the LKAB Experimental Blast Furnace in Lule, Sweden,
have proven the feasibility of the TGR-BF and confirmed the
expectations from process modelling.


In the further development of the latter two electrolysis processes

the steel industry can learn a lot from the non-ferrous primary
metal production, especially from aluminium and magnesium.
This is clearly acknowledged by the team that is working on the
design for the electrolysis of iron oxide suspensions in alkaline
electrolyte [2].

150 C


1100 C
1450 C

1500 C

Figure 3. Typical temperatures in the ironmaking blast


Figure 4. Process scheme of the ULCOS Top Gas Recycled

Other outcomes of the ULCOS project are:
a smelting reduction process HIsarna, combining the
Converter Cyclone Furnace technology as originally
developed by Hoogovens with part of the HIsmelt
technology as operated on pilot scale by Rio Tinto Group in
Kwinana, Australia. The off gas is almost pure CO2 ready for
capture and storage;
a direct reduction process ULCORED, which produces DRI
in a shaft furnace. The off gas is recycled into the furnace
after stripping CO2 that is captured and stored;
a hydrometallurgical electrolysis process ULCOWIN, with
ore grains in a water alkaline solution around 100 C;
a pyrometallurgical electrolysis process ULCOSYS with a
molten slag electrolyte at steelmaking temperatures.

For aluminium, the next technologically important metal after iron

and steel, the Ellingham intersection temperature lies around 2000
C, dramatically higher than the 700 C for iron reduction by
carbon. This high temperature is creating large technical
problems in terms of furnace design for a carbon-based reduction
reactor. This partly explains why carbothermic reduction of iron
ores is world standard whereas this process for aluminium is not
yet developed. However, also in the centre of the ironmaking blast
furnace temperatures around 2300 C are supposed to exist
(Figure 3), albeit surrounded by material at much lower
temperatures. So what is stopping industrial carbothermic
reduction of alumina? Primary aluminium is produced by three
major processes: alumina production from bauxite ore by the
Bayer process, carbon anode production and aluminium smelting
by electrolysis. The latter takes place in Hall-Hroult cells with
consumable carbon anodes, molten aluminium cathodes, and a
cryolite electrolyte at around 960 C whereby the carbon reacts
with the oxygen that is split from the alumina by the electrolysis.
The smelting is a highly energy intensive process and emits
greenhouse gases from fossil fuel consumption, carbon anode
consumption and anode effects. It generates hazardous by
products such as spent pot lining, used electrolyte and anode buds.
Reasons enough for the aluminium industry to join forces and
initiate a kind of Ultra-Low Carbon Aluminium Production
project (ULCAP) with the aim to reduce carbon emission by 50 %
in 2050, parallel to the steelmaking ULCOS project? Alcoa from
the USA and Elkem from Norway embarked on a collaborative
pilot plant project for carbothermic aluminium production [3]. Inhouse knowledge of Alcoa of the Al-O-C system and latest
developments of Elkems proprietary reactor technology led to an
Advanced Reactor Processing (ARP) concept for carbothermic
aluminium production. Experience of Reynolds, Pechiney and
Alcan related to their work on Aluminium Carbothermic
Technology (ACT), to the extent known, was taken into
consideration in development of the concept. All ingredients were
present to collaborate with the global aluminium industry, but
progress is not apparent. Research results or ideas are still
published in patent literature [4]. The aluminium industry had a
shining example in the steel industry but, do to the ongoing
globalisation, mergers and takeovers in the primary aluminium
industry, the time was not ripe. On top of that Elkem was
purchased in 2011 by the China National Blue Star Group. In
general when money is spent on mergers and acquisitions little
funds are left for breakthrough RD&T.
Another alternative route for primary aluminium production based
on sulphidation of Al2O3 has been proposed by Delft University of
Technology and Corus [5-6]. In a possible global ULCAP project
this alternative would then have been evaluated as well and most
likely brought to pilot plant scale.

Metal refining
The ferrous industry is used to refining the primary iron (hot
metal) from the blast furnace process. Hot metal is almost always


desulphurised before entering into the basic oxygen steelmaking

furnace (BOF). In Japan desiliconisation and dephosphorisation
processes are developed as hot metal pre-treatment is applied. In
the BOF hot metal is transferred into steel by blowing pure
oxygen onto the metal bath, thereby reducing the carbon,
phosphorus and sulphur contents of the metal to the demanded
level for the steel grade. Slags are used to remove phosphorus and
sulphur. Scrap as secondary iron source is added as a coolant in
the exothermic process. The recycled scrap, for example produced
100 years ago, is transferred into the demanded steel grade with
the more severe specification of the year of remelting. This
implies that recycled steel is standard upgraded in the process
chain. This statement holds also for the future provided the copper
contamination of scrap from automotive recycling can be
controlled either by physical separation from the solid scrap or by
innovative metallurgical refining processes. High purity steel
grades, approaching pure iron, can be produced by successive
secondary metallurgy treatment in the steel ladle and vacuum
furnace [7].
For non-ferrous metals such as aluminium, magnesium and
titanium, the product from the primary process is very pure. The
impurity element that creates most problems is iron, Fe. For
specific applications where ultra-high purity is demanded
dedicated refining processes such as fractional crystallisation are
applied on a small scale [8]. Remelting of recycled non-ferrous
metal leads in general to downgrading of the alloy grade in
contradiction to the upgrading for steel scrap.

Metal cleanliness
The mechanical properties of a metal are determined by its
composition, structure and texture. For many applications also the
surface properties and the internal cleanliness are important, the
latter determined by the amount and shape of non-metallic
inclusions in the metal.

For steel metal cleanliness is essential for super deep drawing
applications, for example in automotive external body sheet.
Interstitial free Ti-stabilised ultra-low carbon steel grades,
deoxidised with aluminium, vacuum treated in the steel ladle and
continuously cast with care, are not allowed to have non-metallic
inclusions that show as irregularities in the paint coated car body
outer surface. Non-metallic inclusions in aluminium deoxidised
low carbon steel applied for draw and wall ironing (DWI)
production of cans for carbonated beer and beverage filling, have
to be much smaller in diameter than the ultimate wall thickness
after wall ironing (around 60 m). Otherwise inclusions in the
steel sheet will lead to holes in the can wall that are detected by
the can maker in the production line. Acceptance levels are in the
order of ppms, a few rejected cans with holes per million cans
The focus in the steel industry on clean steel making is multiple:
minimising formation of non-metallic particles (mainly
oxides) in the melt by sophisticated deoxidation practices,
using oxygen activity measurements, controlled deoxidiser
additions, and effective stirring to achieve equilibrium;
removing non-metallic particles from the melt by stirring and
slag absorption, followed by steel-slag separation;
controlling the shape of aluminium oxides by injection of
calcium metal in order to form liquid calcium aluminates

prevention of reoxidation by emptying the steel ladle into the

tundish by shielding the metal stream by ceramic shrouding
controlling steel residence time and steel flow in the tundish
by inserting dams and wears in order to maximise floatation
of non-metallic particles followed by absorption in the
tundish slag [12-13];
prevention of reoxidation by emptying the tundish into the
casting mould by shielding the metal stream by submerged
entry nozzles (SEN);
controlling the outflow of the steel from the SEN by nozzle
design and by application of electromagnetic fields generated
by electromagnetic breaks (EMBr).

The tundish is an installation part upstream of the caster mould

with two main functions:
distribute steel over multiple mould entrances;
act as a buffer when steel ladles have to be changed in order
to realise long series sequence casting.
The metallurgical function of the tundish has been the subject of
vast investigations in terms of fluid flow, steel residence time,
reoxidation of dissolved aluminium, steel-slag interaction,
additional steel heating during casting, influence of wall
refractories on cleanliness, and floatation of non-metallic
particles. Whether all suggestions for fluid flow control by dams
and wears, devices for suppression of vortices, centrifugal action
by electromagnetic induction coils really has led to improved steel
quality is questioned by several researchers. This is evident from
the titles of the Howe Memorial Lectures by A. McLean in 1988
[14]: The Turbulent Tundish Contaminator or Refiner? and by
R.I.L. Guthrie in 2000 [15]: Fluid Flows in Metallurgy - friend or
foe? In 1990 [16] researchers of Hoogovens IJmuiden expressed
in a CIM presentation also their concern entitled Tundish
Metallurgy: a solution or a limitation to clean steel? The slab
casters in IJmuiden are equipped with a large boat-shaped tundish
size of 70 tonnes, which appeared perfectly suited to produce
clean steel for EDDQ and DWI steel grades without artificial fluid
flow devices. In 2000 a single strand thin slab caster with in-line
hot rolling came on stream, equipped with an h-shaped tundish.
The long leg of the h-tundish is used to fill the tundish with the
possibility to have two steel ladles parallel teeming steel into this
leg. This makes ladle change possible without changing the steel
level in the tundish, thereby keeping the ferrostatic pressure on the
solidifying slab constant during sequence casting. The short leg of
the h-tundish is covered with an artificial tundish slag and
connected to the long leg by means of a foxhole under the level of
the tundish slag. Steel is transported to the short leg without carry
over slag from the steel ladles or the long leg. This prevents slag
inclusions from being cast into the thin slab. The H-shaped
tundish is an original development from NSC Nagoya for a two
strand conventional slab caster.

In the case of aluminium production cleanliness of the melt is
achieved by filtering out the non-metallic inclusions that are
immersed in the liquid aluminium. Porous ceramic filters made
out of Al2O3 or ZrO2 are placed in the metal flow prior to entering
the casting mould. Filters are applied with different porosities
expressed in pores per inch (ppi) with excellent results. The
amount and shape of the inclusions in liquid aluminium can be
successfully determined by LiMCA measurements, an innovative
break-through development from Canada [17-18].


Before and during aluminium casting no special measures have to

be taken in any aspect comparable to the high technology efforts
before and during continuous casting of aluminium killed steel
grades. It is understandable that the steel industry wanted to adapt
this filtering practice from the non-ferrous colleagues.

Ceramic filtering of liquid steel

In IJmuiden industrial scale tests were performed [16] with
ZrO2/Al2O3 ceramic foam filters with 83 % porosity, pore size 10
ppi, diameter 200 mm and thickness of 38 and 50 mm,
respectively. In a first trial the priming or opening of the filters
was tested in a chimney-like construction in the tundish that did
not disturb the normal casting routine too much (Figure 5). Even
with good preheating of the ceramic filter construction the steel
will solidify as soon as it enters the filter. Additional heat supply
from the steel bath will result in remelting of the frozen steel in
the filter that will penetrate further into the ceramic material, and
so on. After a period of delay, the priming time, the steel starts to
flow through the filter obstruction. Increase of the superheat of the
steel could improve this process and reduce the priming time. To
measure the priming time thermocouples at different heights were
placed in order to follow the steel level after the filters. Using this
method the priming time was measured to be around 25 seconds
for a 38 mm thick foam filter.

the cast could be continued by overflowing the dam and fill the
tundish to the standard 60-70 tonnes steel level. Starting the cast
and priming the filters went well, but the refractory dam broke at
ladle change. No improvement in steel cleanliness between
filtered and unfiltered slab was measured, which suggested that
cracks had formed in the filter dam construction and that the steel
had bypassed the filters. In the next trial the refractory dam was
reinforced by needles in the concrete. Shortly after priming the
lower filters broke and by completion of the sequence also the
upper filters had disappeared completely. Now the dam had
strength, the filters were the weak spots and gave in on the steel
flow pressure and the thermal stresses.

Figure 6. Refractory dam in the tundish containing eight


After priming the filter, the steel level outside and inside the
chimney equalised and rose at the same speed. Apparently in this
construction the filter has no significant flow resistance. A trial
with a low dam in the tundish, with two foam filters positioned in
a refractory dam, were successful in aspects of priming. After
casting a sequence of 6 ladles one filter was missing and the other
showed deformation in the flow direction. In this filter deposits of
aluminium oxide were found and no cracks in the filter material
were seen.
A trial with eight filters in a high refractory dam was executed
(Figure 6). The height of the dam corresponded with a level of 55
tonnes of steel in the tundish. In case of full clogging of the filters

To resolve this weak spot problem thicker foam filters of 50 mm

were applied in a similar construction in the tundish. The
mechanical problems were solved, but now at the expense of
failure of priming of the filters. Only a tiny stream of liquid steel
passed through the centre of the filters and therefore the dam had
to be over flown to continue the casting sequence. After recovery
of the filters, the pores were found to be filled with steel that
contained alumina clusters that were not attached to the filter
material. It was concluded that thick filters were needed to
overcome the mechanical problems but that only thinner filters
could be primed with liquid steel with an acceptable superheat.
Large scale filtering of liquid steel cast with a throughput of 3.5
tonnes/minute was not feasible and further development at
Hoogovens was suspended. Several other projects were executed
in Japan [19-19] and in Europe [21,22,23] also with ceramic loop
filters rather than foam filters, but they did not lead to industrial
application of ceramic filters in the integrated steel industry.
Compared to aluminium the liquid steel density is more than three
times larger than that of liquid aluminium [24] and casting
temperatures for steel are some 1000 C higher than for
aluminium. This makes the demands on mechanical properties for
ceramic filters and thermal stress resistant constructions in liquid
steel applications highly demanding. Application of LiMCA
measurements in liquid steel [25] is still under development but
appears to be extremely difficult for low carbon steel grades.


Metal casting
After metal extraction, refining and alloying the metal has to be
solidified and shaped by casting. The ferrous and non-ferrous
worlds are quite different in the applied casting techniques. As in
the case of metal refining differences in melting temperature,
metal throughput, and density explain the differences in applied
casting technology. Also differentiating is the reoxidation
sensitivity of iron and the fact that iron oxide does not easily assist
in protecting the melt from atmospheric contamination as does
oxides from e.g. aluminium in casting.

Continuous casting of liquid steel is the main technology applied
whereby the solidified semi-products have different shapes: slabs,
blooms, billets, rounds, strip, and H- or U-beam blank shapes.
Only for special grades or very thick semi-products ingot casting
is applied. The development for steel strip casting with various
designs (single roll, twin roll, vertical, etc.) has taken a very long
period since the first patent for a twin-roll caster was granted to
Sir Henry Bessemer. Industrial application of strip casting is
restricted to stainless steel by TKS in Germany and carbon steel
grades by Castrip in the USA. The technology is not (yet)
introduced on industrial scale by other companies, and is not
embraced by the steelmakers as should be expected.

The bulk of aluminium is cast by DC ingot casting in shapes of
slabs or tubular semi-products. Continuous casting is applied but
not to the large extent for steel. Hazelett types of casters are
applied for strip casting of aluminium and for casting of other
non-ferrous metals. A promising technology is single belt casting
where liquid metal is fed on top of a moving water-cooled single
metal belt where the metal solidifies starting from the bottom with
a free liquid surface till full solidification is achieved. Belt casting
is operated on industrial scale for non-ferrous metals such as
aluminium, copper and tin. Development for the non-ferrous
metals aluminium and magnesium is ongoing at McGills Metals
Processing Centre in Montreal [26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34] with
the ultimate aim to cast steel strip as well. Focus is on
development of an enclosed metal delivery system ensuring isokinetic melt feeding to the strip, and on mathematical modelling
of heat exchange between melt and strip and the critical role of
interfacial thermal resistance between solidified strip and watercooled substrate.
A pilot single belt caster originally from BHP, Australia, is used
for applied research into high speed strip casting of Al, Mg, and
steel sheets. Assemblage, design and improved engineering has
been done in collaboration with the Hazelett Strip Casting

Single belt casting for steel?

Benefits of steel strip casting on a single belt directly feeding a
one or two stands hot strip mill are:
small sized low-capital installation;
high belt speed at industrial widths generates a high tonnage
mould flux is not applied, lubrication is not needed;
strip thickness after solidification of 8 to 12 mm are
sufficient for sophisticated hot rolling;
this makes thermo-mechanical processing in the hot rolling

stands possible to manipulate the structure of the strip and

thus to control its mechanical properties.
The last item makes the big difference with steel strip casting by
means of twin rolls, where the strip thickness is in the order of 1
to 2 mm, not sufficient for thermo-mechanical processing.
In the framework of an ECSC Pilot and Demonstration project a
900 mm width belt caster was tested at MEFOS, Sweden. This
installation was originally constructed and operated in Brasil by
MDH and then moved to Sweden. The installation is demolished.
At TU Clausthal, Germany, a pilot plant for steel casting is
operated with strip width of 300 mm with a single stand hot strip
mill in line. At the initial phase of this project Hoogovens
supported this initiative as industrial partner in an ECSC project,
as no German steel producer was interested at the time. An
industrial pilot plant is in the design phase at SMS Demag,
ordered by Salzgitter Stahl und Technologie (SZ), as part of a
project to produce high strength and deformable high manganese
TWIP steel grades in their steel plant at Peine, Germany [35].
Casting these grades conventionally in a slab caster would create
problems with mould flux and segregation. Single belt casting is
in theory the ideal method to cast these grades. The outcome of
this first industrial pilot will be decisive for the further
exploitation of single belt casting for steel strip.

From the examples presented in this paper the picture is
confirmed that the two worlds of ferrous and non-ferrous metals
are clearly separated from each other. It is also demonstrated that
there would be great benefit in learning from each other in terms
of technologies successfully developed in one world to be adapted
in the other world and vice versa. To this end the contacts
between experts and specialists in ferrous and non-ferrous
metallurgy should be enforced. The strong global orientation, the
willingness to collaborate with competitors, the open innovation
attitude combined with the internal focus of the iron and
steelmaking research community, is in itself a strong point for
iron and steel, but makes contact with the non-ferrous colleagues
the more difficult. The balance in terms of tonnage produced and
size of the companies is completely at the ferrous site. The ferrous
community is well organised in terms of institutions such as AIST
(USA), ISIJ (Japan), and VDEh (Germany) supporting their
members in many aspects, organising regular iron and steel
conferences, publicising edited journals, and producing books and
educational material. A few organisations try to incorporate all
metals, such as CIM (Canada), AIM (Italia), IOM3 (UK, also for
glass and polymers) and CSM (China). World wide there are only
a few R&D centres studying all metals, no matter ferrous or nonferrous. CSIRO (Australia), MMPC (Canada) and the Materials
innovation institute M2i (The Netherlands) are examples. National
institutes for metals research such as IMR (Shenyang, China) or
NRIM (Tsukuba, Japan) tend to rather study and develop more
advanced materials by means of world class metals physics than
develop process metallurgical knowledge.
It starts with the change in focus of students education at
universities and graduate schools. Historically first steel as main
direction was replaced by metals, then metallurgy by materials
science, eventually leading to lack of education in process
metallurgy skills. An exception is the reverse specialisation for
graduate education in ferrous technology at GIFT (Pohang,
Korea), stimulated and sponsored by POSCO (Korea).
Some metal manufacturers are active in both ferrous and non-


ferrous production, but in most cases their research laboratories

are specialised and split in iron and steel on one hand and the
other metal(s) such as aluminium or titanium on the other. The
former Hoogovens of the Netherlands had the philosophy of
supplying the best of two metals, being steel and aluminium,
and organised RD&T in a way that the synergy between the
knowledge and technological experience of steel and aluminium
was exploited to the maximum. This has amongst others led to
fast development and successful market introduction of
aluminium automotive body sheet based on deep knowledge and
long technological experience with steel sheet for the same
purpose. After merger of Hoogovens and British Steel into Corus
(now Tata Steel) the philosophy of multi-metals production was
continued till the economic situation made sale of the aluminium
activities inevitable. The bankers in the City of London did not
believe in synergy between ferrous and non-ferrous metal

From the analysis made in this paper the following conclusions
can be formulated:
from the Periodic Table more than 80 metals are named nonferrous, thus after what they are not: ferrous;
iron is by far worlds most important metal produced with an
annual production of about 1.4 billion tonnes in 2010, which
is 53 times more than global aluminium production;
global production data for iron and steel are publically
available, for non-ferrous metals access is restricted;
iron makers can learn a lot from non-ferrous ore
beneficiation experience which will help to explore not
attractive iron ores containing zinc and aluminium;
the ironmaking blast furnace is a well developed
carbothermic redactor of iron oxides;
to reduce emission of carbon dioxide the European steel
industry orchestrated the ULCOS project;
the ULCOS top gas recycled blast furnace will be an
improved low-CO2 carbothermic reductor of iron oxide with
good prospects for carbon capture and storage;
the aluminium industry should combine forces to develop a
carbothermic aluminium oxide reductor making use of
mature ironmaking experience;
the steel industry should learn from the non-ferrous industry
to develop electrolysis of iron oxide through a
hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical route;
refining of liquid iron is inevitable to produce steel, and nonferrous metal purification could adopt developed steel
refining practices to a larger extent;
steel scrap is upgraded after recycling whereas non-ferrous
scrap after recycling ends in lower grade products;
cleanliness control of liquid steel demands sophisticated
control and understanding of a chain of processes before start
of casting;
filtering of liquid aluminium to remove non-metallic
particles is highly effective, for high throughput steel casting
filtering does not work;
continuous casting of steel in various forms is state-of-theart, which is not yet the case for non-ferrous metal casting;
strip twin roll and belt casting is state-of-the-art for nonferrous metals and not for steel strip casting;
single belt strip casting with in-line hot rolling is a promising
technology for the production of high alloyed high strength

and ductility steel grades;

R&D for ferrous and non-ferrous metals is highly separated,
whereby the internal exchange in the iron and steel industry
is better developed than in the non-ferrous metal industry;
ferrous is ferrous, and non-ferrous is non-ferrous, but when
they meet and organise a better exchange, the level of
technology will improve in both metal worlds.


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