A process for further refinement of stainless steel through reduction of carbon content
The amount of carbon in stainless steel must be lower than that in carbon steel or lower alloy steel (i.e., steel with alloying element content below 5%). While electric arc furnaces (EAF) are the conventional means of melting and refining stainless steel, AOD is an economical supplement, as operating time is shorter and temperatures are lower than in EAF steelmaking. In addition, using AOD for refining stainless steel increases the availability of the EAF for melting purposes.
Molten, unrefined steel is transferred from the EAF into a separate vessel. A mixture of argon and oxygen is blown from the bottom of the vessel through the melted steel. Cleaning agents are added to the vessel along with these gases to eliminate impurities, while the oxygen combines with carbon in the unrefined steel to reduce the carbon level. The presence of argon enhances the affinity of carbon for oxygen and thus facilitates the removal of carbon.