The Physics
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Temperature of an Arc Furnace

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Brown, Theodore L. Chemistry The Central Science. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003: 927. "When this concentrate is calcined at temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius, anhydrous aluminum oxide is formed. Anhydrous alumnium oxide melts at over 2000 degrees Celsius." 2000 °C
Jackson, Trevor. Recycling of Electrical Furnace Dust: Jorgensen Steel Facility. Cincinnati,Ohio: March 1998. "For this project, a portable pilot scale process furnace was utilized… Natural gas burners were used to heat the furnace to its operating temperature of approximately 2500 degrees Celsius." 2500 °C
Dr. Siemens. Dr. Siemens Electrical Furnace. American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 1880: 315-316. "The temperature available in both furnaces is limited by the point of complete dissociation of carbonic acid and aqueous vapor…. may be estimated from 2500-2800 degrees Celsius." 2500-2800 °C
The Chemistry of Steelmaking Electric Arc Furnace. Schoolscience. 2002. "The temperature around the arc rises to 1200 degrees Celsius." 1200 °C

The arc furnace or the electric arc furnace was created by a French man named Paul Héroult. These furnaces at first were used to melt calcium carbide for lamps such as a bicycle light lamp. The electric arc furnaces are used for making steel in heavy industry today.

The arc furnace consists of a refractory-lined body, covered with a retractable roof where more than one graphic electrode enters. The body is usually water cooled. Operating an arc furnace involves many things being lodged around and thrown out. First scrap metal is delivered to the shop of factory where they melt the scrap. Then the scrap is placed in large buckets and heavy melt is poured onto the bucket. After loading the melt, they are passed through hot furnace to heat the scrap and recover material to ensure the overall efficiency. The bucket is taken to the melt shop and the furnace is charged with scrap. If the furnace is hot, then the furnace will ignite into a fire ball. The falling scrap often raises a large amount of dust, mostly loose steel particles during charging. After charging is done, the retractable roof is swung back over the furnace and meltdown begins. Then electrodes are allowed into the scrap an arc is struck and the electrodes are then set to bore into the layer of shred at the top of the furnace. Once the electrodes have reached the heavy melt at the base of the furnace and the arcs are shielded by the scrap, the voltage can be increased and the electrodes rose slightly,lengthening the arcs and increasing power to the melt.

When the scrap melts down, the water cooled sections of the furnace become exposed to the radiant heat of the arc, increasing the risk of damage to them. Once flat bath conditions are reached, i.e. the scrap has been completely melted down, often another bucket of scrap is charged into the furnace and melted down. After the second charge is completely melted, refining operations take place to check and correct the steel chemistry and superheat the melt above its freezing temperature in preparation for tapping. Once the temperature and chemistry are correct, the steel is tapped out into a preheated ladle through tilting the furnace. Often a few tons of liquid steel and slag is left in the furnace in order to form a 'hot heel', which helps preheat the next charge of scrap and accelerate its meltdown.

There are many advantages with the electrical arc furnace. These furnaces were used in making shell casings out of steel during World War 2. Today, steel making furnaces make many different kinds of steel in quality. They also have been used to make other industry factories such as the automotive and oil industry.

Arif Hussain -- 2006