Molten iron from the blast furnace is sent to a basic oxide furnace, which is used for the final refinement of the iron into steel. High purity oxygen is blown into the furnace and combusts carbon and silicon in the molten iron. The basic oxide furnace is fed with fluxes to remove any final impurities. Alloy materials may be added to enhance the characteristics of the steel.
Steelmaking further refines the iron by removal of carbon, silicon, sulfur, phosphorous, and manganese. In an integrated mill, the molten iron along with a certain amount of scrap is charged into a basic oxygen furnace (BOF) in which oxygen and fluxes are used to oxidize the impurities out of the iron melt. After the steel has been refined, the furnace is tilted (opposite to the charging side) and molten steel is poured out into a preheated ladle. Alloys are added to the ladle during the pour to give the steel the precise composition desired. In some steelmaking applications, further refining is conducted in the ladle to remove oxygen and sulfur from the molten steel. This is a process called "Tapping."
Coke and coke by-products are produced by the pyrolysis1 (heating in the absence of air) of suitable grades of coal. The process also includes the processing of coke oven gas to remove tar, ammonia (usually recovered as ammonium sulfate), phenol, naphthalene, light oil, and sulfur before the gas is used as fuel for heating the ovens. In the coke-making process, bituminous coal is fed (usually after processing operations to control the size and quality of the feed) into a series of ovens, which are sealed and heated at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, typically in cycles lasting 14 to 36 hours.
During iron-making, iron ore, coke, heated air and limestone or other fluxes are fed into a blast furnace. The heated air causes the coke combustion, which provides the heat and carbon sources for iron production. Limestone or other fluxes may be added to react with and remove the acidic impurities, called slag, from the molten iron. The limestone-impurities mixtures float to the top of the molten iron and are skimmed off, after melting is complete.