|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Hi Chris, What is the goal you want to consider factors for? Are you asking what resources are used to make steel? In the specialty steel companies and at the mini-mills the raw material is scrap. The method of transportation depends on the location and preferences of both the producer and the customer. In the basic steel industry the energy of chemical reactions is used to reduce iron ore to iron. Electric arc furnaces are used to melt and refine scrap. Gas fired furnaces are commonly used for reheating and heat-treating. Environmental issues effect decisions on maintaining, replacing or even adding new equipment and processes. Environmental permitting can take months to years. Economics is global rather than national. Emerging countries often consider steel production key to building economic growth. The answer to the second question, What steps are taken from research to plant production, has almost as many answers as there are research projects. The method of implementation depends on the type of project. Examples include the introduction of a new product or alloy, the development of a new process, or a modification or improvement to an existing process, improved methods for measuring and controlling a process. The first step in introducing a new alloy is to market it to a customer. This often involves sending sample quantities for the customer to evaluate. When an alloy has special production requirements, the R&D department can assist in developing production methods. The interaction between the customers, R&D and production sometimes leads to suggestions for improving the alloy and the process starts again. New processes are usually developed in the laboratory. It is difficult and costly to take existing equipment out of production for experimentation. A pilot plant or small-scale production facility is often used during the transition from R&D to production. Recommendations for the type of equipment needed and how it should be operated are passed on the production department. Modifications to an existing process are often done by experimenting with existing production equipment. The potential gain in quality, reduced cost or shortened production time must exceed the cost of lost production time. New measurement and control systems can often be run at the same time as existing process controls. The advantage is a direct comparison of the two methods and minimal impact on production output. Research involves doing or developing something that no one else has done before. Each project is by its very nature unique. The key to successful implementation of a research project is the return on investment it provides to the corporation. Projects which improve the profitability of a corporation are more likely to be implemented that the ones which are technically interesting. Bob Novak Specialist – Process R&D
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