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~ 0 13, NO. 2, .


published by the Center for Metals Production

An EPRl Sponsored R&D Applications Center

Understanding Electric Arc Furnace Operations For Steel Production

silicon and the burning of natural gas The use of electric arc furnaces (EAF) with oxy-fuel burners. About of the 53% for steelmaking has grown dramatiin cally in the last decade in the United Furnaces are often classified by power total energy leaves the furnace the States. In 1975 electric furnaces acrequirement levels. A scale indicating liquid steel, while the remainder is lost counted for 20% of the steel produced power classification ranging from ultra- to slag, waste gas, or cooling. Typical tap-to-tap time has decreased high-power (UHP), with over 700 kVA in the U.S.; by 1985 this figure had from over 2 hours in 1960 to 70-80 grown to 34%. Electric furnaces range per ton, downto low-power, with less minutes today. Primarily responsible are in capacity from a few tons to as many than 200 kVA per ton, is shown in UHP furnaces, oxy-fuel burners, wateras 400, and a steelmaking shop can Figure 1 along with some representacooled side panels (which allow for have a single furnace or up to three tive furnaces. higher power after the steel is molten), or four. In brief, these furnaces melt foamy slag practices (which also permit steel by applying AC current to a an EXAMPLES KVA higher power), and ladle metallurgy PER steel scrap charge by means graphite of TON (which removes the refining function electrodes. It requires about kwh 500 IMX) from the furnace and shifts it to a ladle of electricity to produce a ton steel; of ULTRA-HIGH 900 into which the molten metal is poured). consequently, these furnaces use a . .~ . . . . . .. 800 0 CHAPARRAL tremendous quantity of electricity. Trans0 BETHLEHEM (JOHNSTOWNI 700 former loads mayreach 120 MVA. Chemical Ekctricol The melting process involves the use 600 0 INLAND HIGH of large quantities energy in a short of 0 LUKENS n 500 0 ATUNTIC STEEL time (1-2 hr) andin some instances the 400 process has caused disturbances in MEDIUM 300 ARMCO (KANSAS CITY) power grids. These disturbances have 70 .0 usually been characterized as flicker LOW 0 LTV(CLEVELAND) - brief irregularitiesin voltage a frac100 tion of the60 Hz cycle in length, and I harmonics - irregularities that tend to Figure 1 to occur in a pattern repetitive the 60 EAF Power Classifications Hz cycle. The featuresof electric arc furnaces It is important to consider the energy were describedin a CMPTechEAF: The Commentary on Electric Arc Furnaces balance for a typical modem energy diagram shown Figure 2 indiin (Vol. 1, No. 3, 1985). The purposeof cates that70% of the total energy is the present Techcommentary is to electrical, the remainder being chemical give utilities and steel mills a better of understanding of electric furnaces from energy arising from the oxidation Figure 2 elements such as carbon, iron, and an electrical viewpoint. Energy Patterns in an Electric Furnace

Energy Needs

Typical Steelmaking Cycle

A typical heat cycle appears Figure 3. in To achieve meltdown as quickly as possible, electrodes are initially lowered to a point above the material, the current is initiated, and the electrodes bore through the scrap to form a pool of liquid metal. The scrap itself protects the furnace lining from the highintensity arc. Subsequently, the arc is lengthened by increasing the voltage to maximum power. Most modem furnaces are equipped with water-cooled panels in the upper half the sidewall, of rather than refractories, which allows for longer arcs and higher energy input into the furnace.In the final stage, when there is a nearly complete metal pool, the arcis shortened to reduce radiation heat losses and to avoid refractory damage and hot spots. After melt dawn, oxygen usually is injected to oxidize the carbon the steel in or the charged carbon. This process is an important source of energy; the carbon monoxide that evolves helps minimize the absorption of nitrogen and flushes hydrogen out of the metal. It also foams the slag, which helps minimize heatloss.
Conditions of furnace

Arc ignition peGiod (start of power supply )

Boring period

Molten metal period

roof from arc by supplying high power and increasing the boring speed 2. To increase the boring diameter

To protect the furr from arc soot

Operating objectives

2. To stabilize the arc 3. To rapidly submerge the

electrode tip into scrap

I 11 Optimum current a OP

u 80 Characteristic curve of arc power 2 60 ? 40

Is Shortc~rcuiting 40 current

00 60


40 80

40 80 Arc Current



120 1 0 6

Io %

Criteria for operation of furnace

To be judged by the position where the electrode tip is submerged for about 1.5d

1. The rate of lowering the electrode 2. The lowered position of the electrode

TO be judg A? t consumption (kW the boring period

Detailed Electrical Operation

I 1 I Courtesy of the Iron and Steel Society. Inc. - Electric Furnace Steelmaking 1985

Figure 3

Steel Melting Cycle

early meltdown, and they occur at varyin After an electric furnace charged with tinguished by a minor overshoot an is ing electrode regulator or by physical move- frequencies. scrap and the roofis in place, the Many attempts have been made to operator lowers the electrodes, each ment of the scrap.As the scrap melts, establish the human eyes reaction to it can often shift and fall away from of which has its own regulator and mechanical drive. The electrodes are an electrode- extinguishing the arc, the flickerof a lamp. That these endeavors have not exactly confirmed one connected to the furnace transformers or against theelectrode- possibly another is shownin Figure 4 (from Arc breaking it. secondary delta winding, which may Furnace Power Delivery), where perBecause of thephysical movement be rated from ;bout 600 to 850 volts. ception is measured while disturbance No current flows when the first elec- and settlingof the scrap, wide excurvoltage and frequency are varied. Eye sions can take place on a random basis trode contacts scrap, but line-to-line a response to disturbances the 5-10 Hz in path through the scrap and an arc are in the secondary circuit. The abrupt range did seem to be greatest all in established when the second electrode initiation and interruption of current the studies. completes the circuit. The regulators flow provides a source of harmonic currents and causes considerable distur- Generation of harmonics may result in for each of these electrodes then two bance to high-impedance circuits. b o u t further flicker problems, and equip(A signal the drives to raise the elecment on the power system may also is trodes until the selected current-voltage 75% of the total impedance inthe secondary circuit.) Voltage and current be damaged. If static capacitors are to ratio for the arc achieved. Initiation is of the third arc depends on the scraps waves deviate considerably from sym- be used to improve the power factor, location, whichis unpredictable, hence metrical sinusoidal patterns, but they an analysisto ensure that resonance does not exist at any the harmonic of do not attain full rectangular shape, the duration of the unbalance short is according to findings the CMP report, frequencies should be made. Harmonin but random. While the scrap is still Arc Furnace Power Delivery Scoping unmelted, the arc may easily exbe Study. Disturbances are worst during


Main melting period

Meltdown period
Tapping spout

Meltdown-heating period


. ...

lid baih 'bottom Since the arc is surrounded withsolid materials, the the therrnol conductivity Of arc power is a maxlmum. Therefore, rapid and uniform melting should be planned by supplying the maximum power that the facilities permit
1. To reduce the local damages near hot spots on lining 2. To rapidly melt the remaining scrap 1. To reduce the heat radiation onto the lining as well as minimize hat spot domoge 2. To rapidly increase the temperature of molten steel to the appropriate value for refining


jowr lfter 1. Variation of arc impedance
1. Power consumption (kwh)

I20 I4O


Power consumption (kwh)

2. Therate of the F c e
temperature (IPB) 3. Powerconsumption (kwh)

2. Melting Conditions of

a full heat. Thisi generally uneconomis cal due to oxidation losses and the need to open the furnace for several separate charges, which results in loss of both time and heat. Noris the use of large heavy scrap alone optimum. A large piece might protrude and interfere with roof closure or require placement by magnet, a process which takes time. The furnace operator therefore tries to blend several types of available scrap to suit his needs. It is beneficialto arrange the heavier pieces near the 20 bottom of the charge. After about minutes of operation, dependingon available power and other practices, the electrodes will have opened some voids, and cave-ins can occur. If large pieces of scrap are on top of the pile, they can possibly slide into and break an electrode. It is generally believed that light, uniform scrap produces a smoother meltdown than does large heavy scrap. However, this is not always the case. If heavy scrap is charged, full power canbe applied. If all the scrapis light, on full power the electrodes may bore through, damaging the furnace bottom before suffia cient pool of liquid metal has formed. Generally, the initial period of melting causes the most electrical disturbances. As the scrap temperature begins rise, to a liquid pool forms, and disturbances begin to diminish. This is generally about 10 minutes or so after power-on and can vary depending on power levels and shop practices.

Borderlines of flicker per perceptibility for incandescent light bulbs under laboratory conditions (1-Commonwealth Edison. 12OV. 25 4 0 + 6OW; 2-Japan. lOOV, 60W; 3-Schwabe. 120V. 60W; 4-Carjell. 220V, 6OW; 5-Wasowsk~, 220V, 40W; 6-Kendal1, 230'4 60W; 7-UIE, 230V, 60W; sinusoidal wave; 8-UIE, 230V, 60W. square wave).

Melt Down
ics contributeto wave distortion and Heating steel scrap approximately to to the increasein effective inductive 3000" F requires large quantities of reactance. This increase is often in the energy rapidly applied. Therefore, full 10 to 15% range and has been repower is called for during meltdown. 25%. Current into ported as high as The arc during meltdown canbe long the furnaceis therefore less than what because the electrode and arc are borwould be expected from calculations ing a hole down through the scrap, based on sinusoidal wave shapes, and and the roof andsidewalls are not losses in frequency-sensitive equipexposed to arc radiation. If the arc is ment such as transformers are higher extiquished, the regulator will lower the than the sinusoidal wave shape would electrode to re-establish it. This can produce. take several seconds if the scrap has moved out from under the electrode.



S 8.8 1 0 Flicker Frequency,



of sizes, densities, and chemical compo- After about 20 minutes, most electric sitions, anda mixtureis usually used. If furnaces will have begun converting only the lightest, least dense material scrap to liquid metal. Hence, wide is charged, several buckets of scrap swings in disturbances will diminish considerably. When sufficient molten must be placed the furnaceto make in metal exists(in some high-powered

Importance of Scrap Main Melting Period Scrap is availablein a wide variety

Figure 4 Borderline of Flicker Perceptibility

as oils) and low-boiling-point nonferrous as furnaces only8-10 minutes is required), When the carbon electrode acts the metals. Preheat could come from Waste the arc is shortened by an adjustment cathode, it is a good emitter of eleci trons (hence, carbon cathodes in the heat or supplemental gas or oil burners. to the electrode regulators. The curThe recent trend toward using the rent will rise since overall resistance is large mercury arc rectifiers of several electric furnace asa main melting unit reduced, and the power factor and arc years ago); steel, even molten,is not has ledto the practice of leaving Some power will decline. Arc length is changed nearly as good. During the half-cycle slag and molten metalin the electric when the scrap orthe bath is the so that the shorter arc will deliver a furnace. CMP-AIS1 studies at Sidbeccathode, arc initiationis a little slower higher portion of its heat the metal to is below the electrode than will the longer and weaker than when the electrode Dosco indicated that this ractice reduces arc furnace flicker. cathodic (Figure6). This slight variaarc, which radiates more heat furto tion between the opposite half-cycles nace sidewalls. Many studies have been conducted which confirm the ad- tends to create the even-numbered vantages of thelong arc for meltdown harmonics -the second and fourth. of heavy scrap and the short arc for operation after sufficient liquid metal has been formed. The short arc much is Tests havebeen run with hollow elecmore stable than the long arc, and trodes, both dry and with argon, and operation during the refining period argon and lime injection. Work by W.E. follows sinusoidal concepts much more Schwabe in the 1950s demonstrated Many ways exist to reduce the effects closely. of the arc disturbances. These are deter-the stabilizing effect of hollow electrodes in furnace^.^ He described the mined by the utility system which to development of the trumpet profile in to the furnace or furnaces are be the tip which decreased load swings connected, and they influenced are mainly by the size and stability of the during meltdown. Photos have been taken during the refiningperiod to show the electric arcs power grid. Some sizable shops require Trials with hollow electrodes and ar1970s showed no particular flicker control equipment. gon injection during the is action. High-speed photography a marked smoothing of oscilloscope needed to capture the60 arc cycles per It is quite possible that, if a furnace traces of arc voltage andcurrent4.The shop is fed from 220 kV or higher a second. It has been shown that the system with a short-circuit capacity of favorable effect of argon resulted from arc moves around on the tip of the the arc-supporting effect the media of electrode and, in some cases, consider- 6500 MVA or more,the utility will due to the greater number of atoms disturbance, ably off the vertical. This movement is experience verylittle load of believed to be caused by the electro- and the steelmaker can have consider- present for ionization. Injection powable flexibilityin configuring his internal dered lime into the arc zone cut arc magnetic forces induced by the high resistance in half and eliminated all current flow (Figure When the same plant power system. 5). Most utilities require power factor high-frequency componentsof the arc conditions were observed with hollow voltage. correction. Shops with large electric electrodes, the arc still moved around Based on these favorable results, furnaces would more than likely use considerably, but it appeared be more to nearly vertical and better consolidated static capacitors; synchronous condens-trials ona commercial-sized electric furnace were undertaken by the Center ers of sufficient capacity would be than with solid electrodes. for Metals Production, with joint financprohibitively expensive for multifurnace a shop. Before such systems are installed, ing by 20 steel companies and the A transient analysis is required to determine:Electric Power Research Institute.2 20% reduction in flicker was found when (a) Capacitor bank configuration argon and lime were injected down (b) Need for harmonic tuning of the electrodes during these tests. Howsections ever, savings in power and electrodes (c) Switching procedure (This is were minimal, offering little incentive important to avoid a power for adopting this practice for steelmelting. Cycle I Cycle 2 Cyde 3 factor penalty and does not eliminate flicker.) Figure 5 If additional regulationis needed, VAR Arc Pattern Flow control equipment would probably be Operation of an electric furnace with required. However, if plans have alone direct-current electrode rather than ready been made for power factor the three electrodes conventional of capacitors, including tuning reactors, alternating-current designs has proven then the thyristors and main reactor are reduce electrical system disturbto the only further additions required. ances. Improvements in load variation, a 60% reduction in flicker, and elimination of phase unbalance has been reported with DCfurnace^.^ Major problems withDC operation are the relatively Anode short life of the bottom electrode and Preheating the scrap charge helps re- contact between the scrap and the botFigure 6 tom electrode during initial meltdown. duce electrical disturbanses melting in Variation in Arc Shape with Half of and removes some contaminants (such Except for the bottom electrode, most Cycles

Argon and Lime Injection

Reducing Electrical Disturbances

Arc Movement

DC Furnaces

Other Means of d Reducing Flicker

monic filters, which would also help t the equipment for a DC furnace i s avoid power factor penalties.It is also conventional, and large DC loads are helpful that makers of electronic apparanow routinely handledin steel mills. A V 60 MW furnace load would be compara- tus - computers, T , X ray, etc.-have .. ble to rectifiers supplying a wide 7-stand improved their power supplies in recent years, making these systems less hot stripmill for rolling steel. vulnerable to power fluctuations. 3000-5000 Rectifiers for these main hp drive motors are of the 12-pulse type. These rolling mill systems handle large impact loads which are close to step functions and probably could handle initial disturbances in DC melting furnaces. 1. Arc Furnace Power Delivery Scoping .

Most important, utilities have become vitally interested in power quality. To further this goal, the Electric Power Research Institute has formed Power a to Electronics Applications Center investigate further the question utility power of quality.


It is true that the arc furnace incurs short circuits. However, relative magnitude should be kept in mind: current If at maximum circuit power is considered to be 100 percent, or 1.O per unit, then a short circuit will result in only 1.414 timei this full load current not too serious a problem. When the primary breaker is closed ontransformer, a the inrush current can be times 10 rated load-far more than the 1.4 times due to a secondary short in the electric arc furnace.A hot strip rolling mill cango from no load to 60 MW faster than a MW furnace, and this 60 can occur every2 minutes. While the rolling mill load is a balanced-phase load (a major advantageover arc furnaces), the mill load cycles much more frequently.

EAF Furnace Loads 2. Arc Stability in Electric Furnace SteelAre Not Unreasonable making,CenterforMetalsProduction, ReDozNo. 86-9, 1986.

Study, Center for Metals Production, Report No. 84-1,1984.

4. W. J. Maddever. Gas Injection Process During Electric Furnace Steelmaking and Continuous Casting, Ph.D. thesis, University of Toronto, 7978.
5. DCArc FurnacesforSteelProduction. Metals Report Center No. Production, for 86-8, 7 986.
6. Techno-Economic Assessmentof Electric Steelmaking Through the Year 2000 EPRI, 1987 (to be published).

3. W E. Schwabe. Experimental Results . with Hollow Electrodes, Iron and Steel Engineer, June 1957, pp. 84-92.

CMP Publications of Interest

84-1 Arc Furnace Power Delivery (1984) to A detailed analysis the technical problems relating large electric furnaces of and utilltypower grids. 85-1 Ladle Refining Furnaces for the Steel Industry985) (1 A review of supplemental steel heating and refining units often used in conjunction with electric arc furnaces.
85-2 Electric Arc Furnace Dust Disposal985) (1 An analysis of dusts generated by electric furnaces and a review of methods for treatment and disposal.

Utility Engineering Progress

Most of the larger electric arc furnaces installed over the past years have 20 been fed from high-voltage, stiff utility power grids. Problems of previous years -transformers failing because of resonance on a certain tap combination or utility capacitor banks failing far from an offending furnace have not been repeated. Users and utilities have done their homework prior installation, to and potential problems have been identified and corrected. The user can decide what to do inside his plant regarding the potential flicker problem. For example, he may want install harto

Vol. 1, No. 3 Electric Arc Furnace Steelmaking (Techcommentary 1985) A description of the structure and function of electric arc furnaces.
(1 86-7 Electrode Tip Analysis 986) An examination of electrode wear by various photographic means.

86-8 DC Arc Furnaces for Steel Production 986) (1 30 ton A comparison of the electrical energy consumption of a conventional AC furnace with a ton DC furnace. 30 86-9 Arc Stabilityin Electric Furnace Steelmaking 986) (1 Field testingthe effect on furnace performance of hollow electrodes, lime and argon injection, and changes in other operating parameters.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) conducts a technical research and development program for the U.S. electric utility industry. EPRl promotes the development new and of improved technologies help the to utility industry meet present and future electric energy needs in environmentally and economically acceptable ways. EPRl conducts research on all aspects of electric power production and use, including fuels, generation, delivery, energy management and conservation, environmental effects, and energy analysis.

The Center for Metals Production (CMP) is an R&D application center sponsored by the Electric Power ResearchInstitute (EPRI) and administered through Mellon Institute Camegie Mellon of University. CMPs goal is to develop and transfer technical information that improves the productivity and energy efficiency of U.S. primary metals producing companies(SIC 33). Target areas are reductiotdsmelting; refining remelting; and surface conditioning1 protection.

This report was prepared and sponsored by the Center for Metals Production (CMP). Neither members of CMP nor any person acting on their behalf: (a) makes any warranty expressed or implied, with respect to the use of any information, apparatus, method, or process disclosed in this report or that such use may not infringe privately owned rights; or (b) assumes any liabilities with respect to the use of, or for damages resulting from the use of, any information, apparatus, method, or process disclosed in this report.

EPRl Robert Jeffress, Project Manager

CMP Joseph E. Goodwill, Director Richard M. Hurd, Chairman Steelmaking Processes James M. Hensler, Manager of Technical Projects John Kollar, Manager of Communications William C. Flora, Consultant David J. Westhead Company, 1nc.i Advertising

Center for Metals Production

Mellon Institute 4400 Fifth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 1521 3-2683 412-268-3243

0 1987 Center for Metals Production