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What Is Basic Oxygen Steelmaking?

  • March 19, 2021
Steelmaking factory

Steel is one of the world’s most important materials. Consisting of iron and carbon, it’s an alloy that’s used to make everything from screws and bolts to bridges, buildings, vehicles, engines and more. While there are different techniques used to produce steel, the most common is known as basic oxygen. Basic oxygen steelmaking accounts for over half of the world’s steel. What is basic oxygen steelmaking oxygen?

Overview of Basic Oxygen Steelmaking

Basic oxygen steelmaking is a multistep process that involves the use of pure oxygen to produce steel from molten iron. Also known as oxygen conversion steelmaking, it leverages oxygen to change the carbon ratio of steel. Basic oxygen steelmaking involves blowing pure oxygen into molten pig iron. With a higher oxygen content, the ratio of carbon to other elements — including iron — drops.

Steps to Performing Basic Oxygen Steelmaking

How is basic oxygen steelmaking performed? This common steelmaking process begins with pig iron. The pig iron is smelted in a blast furnace, after which it’s poured into a ladle. From there, it’s blasted with oxygen as a form of pretreatment. The next step of basic oxygen steelmaking involves charging.

Charging involves filling the furnace with ingredients. As you may know, steel contains more than just iron; it contains carbon, and in some cases, other elements. These ingredients are added to the furnace during basic oxygen steelmaking.

Now it’s time for the pure oxygen. The molten steel-filled vessel is raised and exposed to a lance that contains about a half-dozen nozzles, after which it’s injected with pure oxygen. The multi-nozzle lance essentially blows pure oxygen over the molten steel, thus allowing the carbon to dissolve while simultaneously creating excessively high temperatures. This step, in fact, can produce temperatures of over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fluxes are then added to the steel-filled vessel, which are responsible for the slag. The slag essentially absorbs impurities from the steel. The slag is then separated from the steel. Lastly, the steel is allowed to cool. There are different types of basic oxygen steelmaking, but most of them involve these steps.

In Conclusion

Basic oxygen steelmaking is a process for producing steel. It uses pig iron, carbon and pure oxygen. With these three elements, steel is produced in a vessel. It’s called “basic oxygen steelmaking” because it uses “bases.” The bases are slag, which as previously mentioned, help to absorb and remove impurities from the steel.

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