Unpacking the Basic Oxygen Process in Steelmaking

The basic oxygen process (BOP) is responsible for more than half of today’s global steel production, 66%, in fact. It references a method used in steelmaking in which pure oxygen is bright into contact with the molten results delivered by a blast-furnace to iron and scrap metals.

Leading Up to the Basic Oxygen Process

The 19th Century Bessemer Process saw the steel come within the industry affordability range that initiated the growth and popularity of steel. But that was not the only breakthrough.

One Karl Wilhelm Siemens, a German engineer brought the Open Heath Process to birth. The use of shallow furnaces kept running at high temperatures permitted a faster production turnaround. That soon led to the demise of the Bessemer method per se.

Basic Oxygen Process Crossed the Steelmaking Rubicon

As if joining us on the historic journey of steelmaking, it is of note that the advent of the basic oxygen process in steelmaking caused the closure of open-hearth factories one by one. Not that long ago, in 2001, the last one in China was closed. Steelmaking had crossed the great divide, never to look back.

The basic oxygen process causes a series of reactions, each of them of a heat-releasing specification. The oxidation of impurities such as manganese, phosphorus carbon, and silicon being among the impurities released.

If pure oxygen in the quantities required were available to Henry Bessemer back in the day, we would still be calling the process after him. As it is a Swiss man, Robert Durrer, in collaboration with Austrian engineers and developed the first pure oxygen converter known as the LD Process.

Within forty years of their discovery, all the steel in Japan and more than half of the worldwide steel was produced using the basic oxygen process.

Basic Oxygen Process Stirs the Pot

Ingenuity has not stopped there. Despite bottom converters requiring a tad more maintenance than their sidewall cousins, the pros outweigh the cons. Bottom oxygen blowing accesses a larger surface ratio of reactants, plus the yield is higher.

Bottom blowing can be enhanced with post-combustion top lancing and oxy-fuel lancing that preheats the scrap metal. Coal powder is similarly injected through bottom tuyeres (small pipes), which add the needed oxygen.

Smart scrap metal yards keep the various grades of treated steel separately. That way stainless steel producers and other high-alloy customers get to purchase whichever is closest to the steel they make from the scrap dealers and minimize the cost of alloys that are not required.

In essence, then, the variety possible with the basic oxygen process makes steelmaking more bespoke. Understanding its evolution, helps us respect the industry and the standards upheld for manufacturing essential construction components.

Be sure to contact out the trusty team at https://www.steelmor.co.za/. With us, you have a specialist to hand in the steelmaking business.