The World Bank

Iron and Steel Manufacturing Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


Courtesy of The World Bank


Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Industry Description and Practices

Steel is manufactured by the chemical reduction of iron ore, using an integrated steel manufacturing process or a direct reduction process. In the conventional integrated steel manufacturing process, the iron from the blast furnace is converted to steel in a basic oxygen furnace (BOF). Steel can also be made in an electric arc furnace (EAF) from scrap steel and, in some cases, from direct reduced iron. BOF is typically used for high-tonnage production of carbon steels, while the EAF is used to produce carbon steels and lowtonnage specialty steels. An emerging technology, direct steel manufacturing, produces steel directly from iron ore. This document deals only with integrated iron and steel manufacturing; that on Mini Steel Mills addresses the electric arc steel process and steel finishing processes. Steel manufacturing and finishing processes discussed in that document are also employed in integrated steel plants. See also Coke Manufacturing.

In the BOF process, coke making and iron making precede steel making; these steps are not necessary with an EAF. Pig iron is manufactured from sintered, pelletized, or lump iron ores using coke and limestone in a blast furnace. It is then fed to a BOF in molten form along with scrap metal, fluxes, alloys, and high-purity oxygen to manufacture steel. In some integrated steel mills, sintering (heating without melting) is used to agglomerate fines and so recycle iron-rich material such as mill scale.

Waste Characteristics

Sintering operations can emit significant dust levels of about 20 kilograms per metric ton (kg/t) of steel. Pelletizing operations can emit dust levels of about 15 kg/t of steel. Air emissions from pig iron manufacturing in a blast furnace include particulate matter (PM), ranging from less than 10 kg/t of steel manufactured to 40 kg/t; sulfur oxides (SOx), mostly from sintering or pelletizing operations (1.5 kg/t of steel); nitrogen oxides (NOx), mainly from sintering and heating (1.2 kg/t of steel); hydrocarbons; carbon monoxide; in some cases dioxins (mostly from sintering operations); and hydrogen fluoride.

Air emissions from steel manufacturing using the BOF may include PM (ranging from less than 15 kg/t to 30 kg/t of steel). For closed systems, emissions come from the desulfurization step between the blast furnace and the BOF; the particulate matter emissions are about 10 kg/t of steel. In the conventional process without recirculation, wastewaters, including those from cooling operations, are generated at an average rate of 80 cubic meters per metric ton (m3/t) of steel manufactured. Major pollutants present in untreated wastewaters generated from pig iron manufacture include total organic carbon typically 100–200 milligrams per liter, mg/l); total suspended solids (7,000 mg/l, 137 kg/t); dissolved solids; cyanide (15 mg/l); fluoride (1,000 mg/l); chemical oxygen demand, or COD (500 mg/l); and zinc (35 mg/l).

Major pollutants in wastewaters generated from steel manufacturing using the BOF include total suspended solids (up to 4,000 mg/l, 1030 kg/t), lead (8 mg/l), chromium (5 mg/l), cadmium (0.4 mg/l), zinc (14 mg/l), fluoride (20 mg/l), and oil and grease. Mill scale may amount to 33 kg/t. The process generates effluents with high temperatures. Process solid waste from the conventional process, including furnace slag and collected dust, is generated at an average rate ranging from 300 kg/t of steel manufactured to 500 kg/t, of which 30 kg may be considered hazardous depending on the concentration of heavy metals present. Approximately, 65% of BOF slag from steel manufacturing can be recycled in various industries such as building materials and, in some cases, mineral wool.

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