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Hogan Steel Archive: Scrap

The “Hogan Steel Archive,” representing a three-year collaborative effort of the Walsh Library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections and Fordham’s Industrial Economics Research Institute, commemorates and preserves the remarkable steel legacy


Information on scrap, or more specifically iron and steel or ferrous scrap, is contained in 118 document files on such subjects as: U.S. supply and demand trends and outlook, geographic distribution of U.S. demand, supply in New York City, exports and prices, export monitoring, world supply and demand by countries, demand in Latin America, the U.S. reservoir of obsolete iron and steel, scrap processing capacity, automobile shredders, scrap identification, techno-economic model of the scrap industry, the 1973-74 shortage period, residual elements in scrap, tin and copper residuals, tinplate scrap, trends in scrap quality and DRI demand, pig iron and other scrap substitutes, steel technology and scrap consumption, electric-furnace melting and scrap demand, scrap quality and continuous casting, efficient scrap usage, scrap and castings quality, the steel castings industry, scrap for gray iron foundries and cupola melting, scrap and facility planning at United States Steel, secondary resource recovery, briquetted turnings, history and use of carbo-scrap, industrial scrap generation, scrap from construction, and scrap recycled from automobiles, ship breaking, used steel cans, and other packaging and containers.

The files include a study prepared for AISI by Father Hogan and Frank T. Koelble, Purchased Ferrous Scrap: U.S. Demand and Supply Outlook; a study by Battelle Memorial Institute for the Business and Defense Services Administration (BDSA), U.S. Department of Commerce, Supply and Availability of Obsolete Iron and Steel Scrap; and a study by Batelle personnel for the Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel, Inc. (ISIS) and EPA, Increased Recycling of Ferrous Solid Waste. Among the Archive’s books and references discussing ferrous scrap are The Outlook for Iron Ore , Cokeable Coal and Scrap, published by IISI, and Slag, Scrap, Services…Heckett, published by Heckett Engineering Company.

Analysis: Ferrous scrap, an indispensable production material used primarily by the steel and foundry industries, is most often categorized into three major types, revert, prompt-industrial, and obsolete, depending on its source of supply.

Revert or home scrap consists of iron and steel, non-salable as product, generated during steel and foundry operations. Resulting from yield losses in the production process, it takes the form of croppings from semifinished steel; trimmings from plates and other rolled products; rejects from casting, rolling, and processing; and additional iron units from blast-furnace scrap, slag, pouring losses, mill scale, and scarfings. Nearly all of this high-quality ferrous scrap remains within its home steel plant, where it is returned or reverted for remelting.

Prompt-industrial scrap, generated by the iron- and steel-consuming industries in manufacturing their products, results from trimming and other losses in stamping, fabricating, and machining operations, as well as from manufacturers’ rejects of steel products and castings. Manufacturers directly and promptly return such high-quality scrap to steel plants and foundries under contract or by having it auctioned as factory bundles.

Obsolete scrap is recovered from discarded, usually obsolete iron- and steel-containing products and from the demolition of buildings and other structures. Unlike revert and prompt-industrial scrap, which are prime production materials from known and readily accessible sources, obsolete scrap is derived from as many sources as there are products and structures into which iron and steel and other materials once were incorporated. Consequently, most obsolete scrap is lower in quality and less consistent in chemistry, contaminated with higher levels of non-ferrous residuals or tramp elements, which limit its utility in producing low-residual steels.

Because of the diverse nature and wide geographic dispersion of the discards and abandoned structures made available at any given time for conversion into obsolete scrap, its marketing by the ferrous-scrap industry requires an extensive reclamation, processing, and distribution effort. The industry, with its network of collectors, processors, and brokers, provides the essential marketplace for selling obsolete and other purchased scrap for recycling by steel plants, foundries, and other scrap users.

During the 1960’s, two worldwide trends started to emerge that continue to have a major impact on the relationship between ferrous-scrap demand and supply: first, an increase in scrap demand in terms of both quantity and quality, and second, a decline in the rates at which high-quality scrap is generated from both revert and prompt-industrial sources.

The worldwide growth of scrap-based steel production in electric-arc furnaces has paralleled the advent of the minimill and its evolution into a more prominent alternative to the integrated mill in producing an ever-widening range of steel products. The result has been to increase not only scrap demand, but also the need for high-quality, low-residual scrap. Since the late-1980’s, this emphasis on scrap quality has been accentuated by the commercialization of thin-slab casting, which has seen electric-furnace steel increasingly rolled into lower-residual, flat-rolled products.

Counter to the growing demand for higher-quality scrap, long-term improvements in operating efficiency and production yields have been reducing supplies of the best, most readily available scrap. The rate of revert-scrap generation has fallen as continuous casting and the application of computers have increased steel-mill processing yields by 20% or more. Likewise, the flow of prompt-industrial scrap has fallen as enhanced steel-product quality has reduced manufacturers’ reject rates, and computer-driven changes in product design and production have cut materials losses in a variety of manufacturing operations.

Given these divergent trends in scrap demand and supply, scrap consumers with a growing need for higher-quality scrap have become more and more dependent on obsolete scrap, the lowest-quality supply component. This has led to their increased consumption of such high-grade furnace inputs as DRI and pig iron to serve as diluents in reducing tramp-element contamination to acceptable levels.