Summary
Basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS, BOP, BOF, or OSM), also known as Linz-Donawitz steelmaking or the oxygen converter process, is a method of primary steelmaking in which carbon-rich molten pig iron is made into steel. Blowing oxygen through molten pig iron lowers the carbon content of the alloy and changes it into low-carbon steel. The process is known as basic because fluxes of burnt lime or dolomite, which are chemical bases, are added to promote the removal of impurities and protect the lining of the converter. The process was invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer Robert Durrer and commercialized in 1952–1953 by the Austrian steelmaking company VOEST and ÖAMG. The LD converter, named after the Austrian towns Linz and Donawitz (a district of Leoben) is a refined version of the Bessemer converter where blowing of air is replaced with blowing oxygen. It reduced capital cost of the plants and smelting time, and increased labor productivity. Between 1920 and 2000, labor requirements in the industry decreased by a factor of 1,000, from more than three man-hours per metric ton to just 0.003. The majority of steel manufactured in the world is produced using the basic oxygen furnace. In 2000, it accounted for 60% of global steel output. Modern furnaces will take a charge of iron of up to 400 tons and convert it into steel in less than 40 minutes, compared to 10–12 hours in an open hearth furnace. The basic oxygen process developed outside of traditional "big steel" environment. It was developed and refined by a single man, Swiss engineer Robert Durrer, and commercialized by two small steel companies in allied-occupied Austria, which had not yet recovered from the destruction of World War II. In 1856, Henry Bessemer had patented a steelmaking process involving oxygen blowing for decarbonizing molten iron (UK Patent No. 2207). For nearly 100 years commercial quantities of oxygen were not available or were too expensive, and the invention remained unused.
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