On March 3, 2023, at the VOD vacuum refining equipment project of the stainless steel division of Taishan Iron and Steel Group, workers in the smelting workshop control room closely monitored and adjusted various detection values to “run-in” the new equipment. In the future, higher-end stainless steel products will be produced here.
Since the trial production of the VOD vacuum refining equipment at the end of 2022, it is currently in the hot commissioning stage. In addition to producing 400 series ordinary steel, the stainless steel division has also successfully smelted the 409L steel type that the previous equipment could not make. This steel type can be used for manufacturing automobile exhaust pipes and other applications.
Taishan Iron and Steel Group was one of the earlier companies in China to produce 400 series stainless steel and has a leading position in the industry. As more and more steel companies enter the 400 series stainless steel production market, the production capacity increases, and profit margins decrease. To enter the high-end 400 series stainless steel market, Taishan Iron and Steel Group has launched the VOD vacuum refining equipment project.
The Taishan Iron and Steel Group’s 2×80-ton VOD vacuum refining equipment project was critical in Shandong Province in 2022.
Data indicators such as pressure, temperature, and oxygen utilization rate jump on the computer screen with complete digital control. “Next, we will introduce a smelting operation model and automatically control the addition and subtraction of materials through computer calculations to reduce the inaccuracy of manual operations,” the director of the VOD smelting workshop of the stainless steel division told reporters.
“Under vacuum conditions, decarburization and denitrification are easier, and high-quality steel is easier to produce.” The successful experiments have increased confidence. Once familiar with the equipment, more high-quality steel types can be produced to improve product-added value.
On-site, a Korean man is discussing with employees how to improve decarburization and oxygen utilization rates. He is a high-end talent that Taishan Iron and Steel Group introduced from Pohang Iron and Steel in Korea in 2019. He serves as the Minister of the stainless steel division. Under the guidance of Korean experts, Taishan Iron and Steel Group launched the VOD vacuum refining equipment project in 2021 to transform it into high-end stainless steel production.
“We actively make use of expert resources, become familiar with operations and equipment performance as soon as possible, and produce high-quality ultra-pure ferritic stainless steel products following Korean process and product standards, striving to achieve domestic leadership in product quality in a short time,” Zhao Gang said.
VOD vacuum refining is a relatively advanced technology in China and can smelt advanced steel types. In the future, Taishan Iron and Steel Group can produce steel for equipment such as automobiles, nuclear power, and offshore wind power.