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Basic oxygen steelmaking

    (BOS BOF Linz-Donawitz-Verfahren LD-converter) is a method of primary steelmaking in which carbon-rich molten pig iron is made into steel The LD-converter is named after the Austrian placenames Linz and Donawitz (a district of Leoben) The vast majority of steel manufactured in the world is produced using the basic oxygen furnace Modern furnaces will take a charge of iron of up to 350 tons and convert it into steel in less than 40 minutes The LD converter is a refined version of the Bessemer converter where blowing of air is replaced with blowing oxygen
    Blowing oxygen through molten pig iron lowers the carbon content of the alloy and changes it into low-carbon steel
    The process is known as basic due to the pH of the refractories - calcium oxide and magnesium oxide - that line the vessel to withstand the high temperature of molten metal


    The basic oxygen steel-making process is as follows:
    1. Molten iron from a blast furnace is poured into a large refractory-lined container called a ladle;
    2. The metal in the ladle is sent directly for basic oxygen steelmaking or to a pretreatment stage Pretreatment of the blast furnace metal is used to reduce the refining load of sulfur silicon and phosphorus In desulfurising pre treatment a lance is lowered into the molten iron in the ladle and several hundred kilograms of powdered magnesium are added Sulfur impurities are reduced to magnesium sulfide in a violent exothermic reaction The sulfide is then raked off Similar pretreatment is possible for desiliconisation and dephosphorisation using mill scale (iron oxide) and lime as reagents The decision to pretreat depends on the quality of the blast furnace metal and the required final quality of the BOS steel
    3. Filling the furnace with the ingredients is called charging The BOS process is autogenous: the required thermal energy is produced during the process Maintaining the proper charge balance the ratio of hotmetal to scrap is therefore very important The BOS vessel is one-fifth filled with steel scrap Molten iron from the ladle is added as required by the charge balance A typical chemistry of hotmetal charged into the BOS vessel is: 4% C, 02-08% Si, 008%-018% P, and 001-004% S.
    4. The vessel is then set upright and a water-cooled lance is lowered down into it. The lance blows 99% pure oxygen onto the steel and iron igniting the carbon dissolved in the steel and burning it to form carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide causing the temperature to rise to about 1700°C This melts the scrap lowers the carbon content of the molten iron and helps remove unwanted chemical elements It is this use of oxygen instead of air that improves upon the Bessemer process for the nitrogen (and other gases) in air do not react with the charge as oxygen does High purity oxygen is blown into the furnace or BOS vessel through a vertically oriented water-cooled lance with velocities faster than Mach 1McGannon p 486
    5. Fluxes (burnt lime or dolomite) are fed into the vessel to form slag which absorbs impurities of the steelmaking process During blowing the metal in the vessel forms an emulsion with the slag facilitating the refining process Near the end of the blowing cycle which takes about 20 minutes the temperature is measured and samples are taken The samples are tested and a computer analysis of the steel given within six minutes A typical chemistry of the blown metal is 03-06% C, 005-01% Mn, 001-003% Si, 001-003% S and P.
    6. The BOS vessel is tilted again and the steel is poured into a giant ladle This process is called tapping the steel The steel is further refined in the ladle furnace by adding alloying materials to give the steel special properties required by the customer Sometimes argon or nitrogen gas is bubbled into the ladle to make sure the alloys mix correctly The steel now contains 01-1% carbon The more carbon in the steel the harder it is, but it is also more brittle and less flexible
    7. After the steel is removed from the BOS vessel the slag filled with impurities is poured off and cooled


    The first basic oxygen steelmaking process was the LD process developed in 1952 by voestalpine AG in Linz AustriaMcGannon p 26 Some major steelmaking companies in the US did not convert to this process for some years with the last Bessemer converter still operating commercially until 1968 The LD process replaced both the previously common Siemens-Martin process also known as the open-hearth process and the Bessemer process European companies replaced open hearth furnaces with BOF rapidly after WWII but US companies were reluctant to give up the old and tried open hearths The first company in the US to use this type of furnace was McLouth Steel in Trenton Michigan
    The first BOF in North America was installed at Dofasco in Hamilton Ontario Canada



    • McGannon Harold E. editor (1971) The Making Shaping and Treating of : Ninth Edition Pittsburgh Pennsylvania: United States Steel Corporation

    External links

    • Basic Oxygen Steelmaking module at steeluniversityorg including a fully interactive simulation