Steel remains one of the most important elements in engineering across nearly all divisions. This crucial building material helps construct roads, provides structure to stadiums and skyscrapers, and offers reinforcement to concrete. In North America alone, steel is recycled at 69 percent. That’s more than any other recyclable resource around. For every ton of steel that gets recycled, we conserve 2,500 lbs of iron ore, 120 lbs of limestone, and 1,400 lbs of coal. The reliance on steel also offsets the need for other building materials, as it’s both consistent and dependable.
This short documentary chronicles how steel gets piecemealed back together, specifically at the Steel Dynamics Inc. campus. It takes you from scraps to a finished product and then back to scraps again. The 24/7 operation continues year-round, especially as scrap yards sort through millions of tons of steel scrap each year.
Even more impressive are the machines used to sift through and transport the process. The large front loaders, massive magnets, and full train cars are the stuff of dreams for anyone who obsesses over heavy machinery.
Then there are the furnaces themselves which melt down hundreds of tons of steel. (We also can’t help but think of that scene in Toy Story 3 when Woody and the gang find themselves in a scrap steel furnace.) Granted, that process is far from eco-friendly. Traditional blast furnaces consume a lot energy to melt down the steel. However, several major mills use EAFs (electric arc furnaces).
Once the steel is poured into a slab, it quickly solidifies, going from molten metal to a solid in about 20 seconds. The exiting slab clocks in at a temperature of over 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 1,150 Celsius), and that’s even with high-pressure water sprayers blasting the steel.