AK Steel said that the first heat of steel was melted on March 4, 2011 in the company’s new 175-ton capacity electric arc furnace (EAF) at its Butler, Pennsylvania Works. Also, a new ladle metallurgy furnace (LMF) at the Butler plant has begun processing molten steel. Addition of the new EAF and LMF to the Butler melt shop is part of a modernization of the company’s specialty steel operations during the past several years totaling more than $180 million. Most of the capital invested was for projects at Butler Works.
“The successful start-up of our new EAF and LMF represents completion of the most significant capital investment by AK Steel in recent years,” said James L. Wainscott, chairman, president and CEO of AK Steel. ”The new furnaces will enable us to lower production costs, increase steelmaking capacity, and improve the quality of all of Butler Works’ products.”
Mr. Wainscott noted that the new furnaces also give AK Steel greater flexibility in adjusting production levels and product mix of electrical, stainless and carbon steels, depending upon market conditions.
The new EAF replaces three existing EAFs of 1960's-vintage at the Butler Works. The new EAF is capable of melting 1.4 million tons annually, or about 40% more than the total capacity of the previous three-furnace operation.
The EAF uses recycled steel scrap as the primary raw material. The steel scrap is loaded into the furnace and melted at temperatures that can be higher than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat in the furnace is created from electricity that arcs from graphite electrodes to the metal – much like a giant welding rod. The LMF is an intermediate steel processing unit that refines the chemistry and temperature of the molten metal prior to continuous casting.