Particularly after the mid-1960’s, the world steel industry increasingly shaped its investment and operating decisions to reflect a growing environmental concern and the need to attain compliance with increasingly stringent pollution-control standards. The Archive’s 69 document files on the environment examine industry measures to abate the air and water pollution associated with such activities as mining iron ore, making coke, producing iron and steel, and rolling and processing finished steel products. In addition, the documents assess the economic impact on the industry and review the technologies and operating changes involved in making steel plants more environmentally compatible. The contents of the files include consultants’ studies prepared for AISI, Reserve Mining Company, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as papers and studies by AISI, IISI, and a number of steel companies. In addition, Steel Production: Processes, Products and Residuals by Clifford S. Russell and William J. Vaughan is included in the Archive’s book collection.
Analysis: Energy and the environment are interrelated subjects, since the most effective way to avoid environmental pollution is to reduce energy consumption. During the past three decades, the energy consumed in steelmaking has been cut by more than 45%, limiting carbon dioxide emissions by a comparable amount. At the same time, air and water pollution from steel mills has been reduced by upwards of 90%. Contributing to this progress has been the application of the latest in control technologies and savings in energy that have resulted from the adoption of such production advances as continuous casting, direct rolling, waste heat recycling and cogeneration, and the use of more recycled ferrous scrap, mainly in electric-arc furnaces, and also as a result of process and practice changes in the basic-oxygen furnace or BOF.
Not only is steel the most recycled production material, but in the form of ferrous scrap that has been melted previously, it stores energy and can be reused over and over again. The steel industry puts some recycled steel into virtually all the new steel it produces, and by emphasizing recycling, it conserves both energy and such raw materials as iron ore and coking coal, which limits both land disturbance and greenhouse-gas emissions. Underscoring the extent of the industry’s recycling effort, some 98% of all cars are now recycled, and 28% of all the steel in the UltraLight Steel Auto Body (ULSAB) is made from recycled ferrous scrap.
During 1990-2002, the U.S. steel industry’s energy intensity per ton of steel shipped declined 17% to some 14 million BTU’s, and the industry has made a commitment to achieve an additional 10% reduction by 2012, which will require continuing investments in new technologies to both increase productivity and further reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions.