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Electric arc melting is used to produce steel from scrap, in particular for structural castings.

Sheffield Modernizes Electric Melting

U.K. steel foundry rebuilds EAF with new gantry, electrode columns and current-carrying arms, automation, process control, etc.

U.K. steel foundry and forger Sheffield Forgemasters has completed a £2-million project (est. $2.65 million) to modernize a 50-year-old electric arc furnace at its operation in Sheffield, England. Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd. produces steel castings and forgings, for major industrial, oil and gas, and nuclear energy projects.

SFIL also supplies custom castings and forgings to U.K. and U.S. defense manufacturers.

Among its recent awards is a £5.5-million (est. $7.3-million) contract from Samsung Heavy Industries to supply 73 castings (0.5 to 19.5 metric tons) for structural elements of a semi-submersible oil platform, being built for installation in a Gulf of Mexico oilfield.

The electric furnace was designed and built in the 1960s to melt and tap up to 90 metric tons, and later modernized to a 150-mt capacity. Over seven months, it was largely rebuilt, with a new furnace gantry, electrode columns and current-carrying arms, cabling, and new automation, process control, hydraulics, and water-cooling systems, to achieve a 15% improvement in performance efficiency.

“Logistically and physically, this has been an enormous undertaking and we have removed over 150 metric tons of steel, mechanical components, hydraulics, refractory material, and cabling in order to re-fit the furnace up to a much higher specification,” explained Gareth Barker, Sheffield Forgemasters Intl. Ltd. operations director.

“The previous configuration served us well over the years and has been continually upgraded and maintained, but to make a more effective melting plant we knew that it would require radical reconfiguration,” Barker added.

The upgrade project was carried out over seven months. “With the exception of the main hearth and staging, we have essentially built a new furnace which will operate much faster, with less energy consumption and will be capable of producing even cleaner steels,” Barker stated.

“It is a significant investment by the company and is part of a much broader plan to increase efficiencies and to make the company more efficient moving forward,” he said.

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