Without any doubt, we can say that steel is one of the most popular and important structural materials. It is used in the construction of transport, aviation, construction and so on. It should be noted that today the production of steel is very well developed. This branch of metallurgy is one of the most difficult and time-consuming. Let's more in detail talk on this topic and examine all the interesting nuances and details.
On the world steel industry
In 2014, there was a recovery in the metallurgical industry, in particular steel, after the crisis in 2012. Statistics show that world smelting is growing every year. For example, from 2001 to 2012, volumes increased by almost 700 million tons. Nevertheless, the cyclical nature of production makes the steel industry relatively unstable.
Today we can say that the annual demand for this material will be constantly increasing. Countries with developed infrastructure will act as major buyers. This is due to the need for urbanization and industrialization. From this we can draw a simple conclusion - the production of steel will not go anywhere, and will only develop.
Kremenchug Steel Mill
This Ukrainian company is known practically all over the world. For the most part, parts for freight cars, in particular wheels, are cast here. In addition, the plant produces cast parts for the automotive industry and its own repair needs. This plant employs approximately 2,500 specialists as of 2014. But due to the economic crisis in Ukraine and the deterioration of relations with Russia, the plant almost completely stopped. This is due to the fact that approximately 95% of the manufactured products were purchased by the Russian Federation. As a result, they are increasingly talking about the conservation of the plant, and after that they can simply disassemble it.
The first visible deterioration began in 2009, when the company lost most of its assets. Already in 2010 the plant became bankrupt, but did not stop its work. Nevertheless, by 2013, production volumes fell by 48%, which in fact meant a halt to the plant, and it happened a little later. Now it is difficult to say whether the Kremenchug steel plant will work or not.
At present, there are several ways of obtaining steel. One of them, the same basic - oxygen-converter. This method appeared a little later than Bessemer's. In fact, we can say that the process of obtaining steel in the converter is exactly the same, but somewhat improved. Let's take a little look at how it works.
The Converter is filled with liquid iron, which is bottom blown with oxygen. In the process of oxidation of impurities of pig iron because of what is happening and its transformation into steel. Moreover, steel production technology is such that during the oxidation heat is generated, which is enough to provide the required temperature in the chamber. As you can see, this is a quite simple method to get a quality product in a short time. The temperature in the chamber is typically maintained in the range of 1,600 degrees.
The Marten process
This is another popular method for obtaining high-quality steel. The bottom line is that the melting is carried out on the floor in a reflecting furnace. Pre-it is equipped with regenerators, which are necessary for heating air or gas. It can be said that the very idea of such melting appeared long ago, but the open-hearth process of steel production requires a high temperature, which could not be achieved. But already in 1864 for the first time used regenerators, which showed themselves from the best side.
To produce steel in open-hearth furnace the charge is loaded. It includes scrap, scrap and cast iron. As a result of exposure to high temperature after some time there is melting of the charge, and then it also has special additives. They are needed in order to give the steel the required properties. The finished product is cast into ladles and transported to the destination. As the open-hearth method is quite effective and does not require large expenditures, therefore, very soon became the main almost all over the world.
About electric arc furnace production
Today, almost every steel plant has arc steel furnaces. In addition, both DC and AC furnaces exist, but they are rarely used and the volumes of smelting from them are not large. But electric arc furnaces are very popular. The reason is that in them it is possible to get the steel of the electric furnace range. It is quite easy to get high alloy and alloy steel. At the same time, it is not possible to achieve the same good results in open-hearth furnaces and converters. Due to the fact that the arc furnace is rapidly heated, which allows you to add a large number of alloying elements. Along with this, the protection of metal from fumes gives a good result. In principle, there is the possibility of not only a smooth temperature adjustment, but also an accurate one, which is also very important. In view of the fact that this method is only developing, we can talk about its prospects.
Steel production in Russia
With the Russian metallurgy are familiar all over the world, as it is quite powerful and competitive. Not an exception is the industry such as steelmaking. At present, Russia occupies the fifth place in the world in terms of the amount of steel produced. Despite the fact that domestic interests in the metal are quite high, as of 2012, about 40% of the total output was exported.
According to statistics, over the past 10 years, there has been a positive trend in the development of the steel industry in Russia. Compared to 1999, in 2009 the productivity was increased by about 64%, which is quite significant. At the same time, many leading Russian factories are not lagging behind foreign competitors and are catching up with them in terms of productivity. In 2009, in Russia, approximately 57% of steel was manufactured in oxygen converters, 27% - in electric arc furnaces and only 16% - in open-hearth furnaces. In general, the Russian Federation annually produces about 4.5% of world production. But according to statistics, this figure is gradually creeping up, which indicates positive dynamics.
About the situation in the world in 2014
As noted above, after the global crisis in 2012, the steel industry recovered only after several years. So, during this time, the world demand for the metal increased by 3.3%. Many experts say that it happened because in advanced economies the growing demand for steel. The most intensive growth of steel production takes place in China. There from 2013 to 2015 was made up 3.5%. Not to mention the growth in India where it was produced became more 5.6%. In the U.S., the increase in production volumes based on the increasing demand of the automotive industry. It is planned to produce 3% more steel compared to previous years. In Europe in 2012 and 2013 was a negative trend, that is, consumption has not increased, but decreased. But in 2014, consumption grew by 2.1%. The result, though small, but pleasant.
About the prices and something else
As noted a little higher, the steel industry is cyclical. This suggests that the price of metal is constantly changing: then they grow, then fall. Nevertheless, in comparison with 2012, a good growth was observed. However, one must understand that everything depends on the cost of the raw materials. The more expensive will coke, batch, scrap and other products, the more expensive will be steel. One can not and do not pay attention to such a factor as the glut of the market with cheap Chinese products. This can significantly reduce prices. Another interesting point is that many consumers are trying to replace steel with other materials. Instead of steel shovels use plastic, metal parts are replaced by polymer ones. For example, the body of an electric car is made not of steel, but of a special fiber, which, according to the manufacturer, has excellent strength and performance characteristics and significantly less weight.
As you can see, today there are several actual methods of obtaining steel. This is the converter method, open-hearth furnace and melting in arc furnaces. Each of them is something good and has its drawbacks. Nevertheless, the production of steel in the world is such that it is necessary to use even the most profitable, from the economic point of view, methods. One thing is for sure, steel prices will gradually increase, and volumes will increase. But this will happen until a certain moment. In any case, after some time, the best materials will appear, which will have less weight, better resistance to corrosion, etc. Today, if they are, then it is unprofitable to look at the background of metal products because of their high cost. In principle, that's all.