September 2019

I was very pleased with an announcement made recently by the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) concerning Osceola, Arkansas-based Big River Steel. The hi-tech steelmaker with its SMS group ‘learning mill’ is pushing the boundaries of steel production technology and challenging – not that it needs to be challenged – the supremacy of the integrated steel mill and the notion that they (and not EAF steelmakers) produce superior steel.

The SMA announcement was simple: Big River Steel has become a member of the SMA, the organisation representing electric steelmakers in the USA. Stateside, electric steelmaking is now (and has been for some time) the dominant form of steel production. In the early days, integrated steelmakers claimed that ‘the new kids on the block’ (electric steelmakers) were incapable of making high quality steels and were only capable of making steel for trash cans. How wrong they were!

According to Dave Stickler, Big River Steel’s CEO, phase two development at the Osceola plant will lead to the production of non-grain oriented (NGO) steels. Stickler plans to produce NGO steels fully processed down to 0.10mm thickness and 1,650mm wide – the widest and the thinnest in the world, he claims. Big River Steel is already selling direct to three automotive companies and by the year-end will be selling direct to Mercedes!

Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Cambridge in the UK, writing in the July/August edition of Steel Times International, said that the most demanding aerospace companies are buying recycled steel from Liberty Speciality Steels in Rotherham, UK, putting paid to the argument that recycled steel is of a lower quality than that produced in blast furnaces. 

Professor Allwood argues that around a third of the world’s steel output is made by electric arc furnaces. He says that pressure to act on climate change will mean a reduction in the number of blast furnaces in order to meet emissions targets: proof if any was needed that electric steelmakers like Big River Steel and Liberty Speciality Steels, to name but two, are the future of global steelmaking.

So I say hats off to Big River Steel, Commercial Metals Company, Steel Dynamics, Liberty Speciality Steels and, of course, the pioneering Nucor Corporation.

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September 2019 highlights

2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge, editor of Steel Times International

4 News Round-up – the latest news and diary dates

6 Innovations – the latest contracts and new products from international plant builders and suppliers

10 Latin America Update – Brazilian coke blast furnaces

12 Conference Report: Steel Success Strategies XXXIV (Optimisim and toned down sentiments by Manik Mehta)

19 Rolling: Speed pumps save electric power

23 Rolling: Bearing solutions for hi-speed rolling

33 Company Profile on Sandvik: Moving into additive manufacturing

40 Special and Stainless Steels: The George Washington bridge

44 Special and Stainless Steels: Stainless steel, the green metal

46 Perspectives: Voith – Satisfying customer demands

48 History: US Steel – a billion dollar idea