Monthly Archives: July 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 1.26.31 PMThe U.S. steel industry has taken enormous strides over the past decades to reduce its energy consumption; since the end of World War II, the industry has reduced its energy intensity (energy use per shipped ton) by 60 percent. Between 1990 and 1998 alone, intensity has dropped from 20 to 18 million Btu (MBtu) per ton.

According to a report by Energetics, Inc. Domestic shipments are projected to flatten out over the next decade to around 105 million tons which means that total energy consumption will also decrease. Historically, the steel industry has accounted for about 6 percent of U.S. energy consumption. Today, that figure is 1.5 percent.

The primary causes for the decrease in energy consumption since WWII are:

  • The use of pellets in the blast furnace and the application of new technology in the ironmaking process to further reduce fuel rates per net ton of hot metal (NTHM).
  • The total replacement of the open hearth process by basic oxygen and electric furnaces. C The almost total replacement of ingot casting by continuous casting (which improved yield dramatically and thus reduced the tons of raw steel required per ton of shipments).
  • The growth of the electric furnace sector of the industry at the expense of hot metal-based processes (which has also stimulated scrap recycling so that about 55 percent of “new” steel is now melted from scrap steel.



10443310_672801599463694_4872253459980714572_nDid you know Americans use 100 million steel cans each day? That’s according to During that same day, more than 67 million cans are recycled by steel companies throughout North America. 

You may not realize it but we rely on steel packaging for our food to be durable. In fact, it may surprise you that you probably use at least one steel can ever day. While people call them tin cans, metal cans or aluminum cans, most food cans are truly made of steel. 

Steel cans package a variety of products including fruits, vegetables, soups, sauces, meats, juice, pet food, cleaning products, shoe polish, paint and coffee. But, steel cans are also good for recycling. 

More steel is recycled each year than paper, pastil aluminum and glass combined. When steel is recycled, it conserves energy, natural resources as well as making the process more financially sustainable. 

Read more about recycling steel and why it starts with you in the home below: 

How do you prepare steel cans for recycling? 
Once steel cans are used, make sure there is no remaining food in the can by rinsing it out. Place the steel lid inside the can as well since both can be recycled. If your community recycling program accepts empty steel aerosol cans or empty steel paint cans, they should accept these cans as recyclable materials as well. (Check your local recycling program about steel with the Steel Recycling Locator.) Just make sure the container is empty.

How do communities collect steel cans for recycling programs? 
Through curbside collection, drop-off sites or multi-material buyback recycling centers. In some communities, household refuse may be sent to a resource recovery facility (or waste-to-energy facility), where steel cans are automatically removed for recycling by magnets. This means that the steel cans are magnetically separated and recycled even when they’re placed in the trash. However, not every city has this type of service so it’s encouraged to place your steel household products in the recycling bin every time.

Where else might steel containers be collected for recycling? 
Anywhere they are used. On-site recycling programs may be established at restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and many other establishments that have foodservice facilities.

What happens to steel cans after they are collected? 
A recycling truck takes the steel cans and other materials from the curbside, drop-off site or buyback center and hauls them to a material recovery facility (MRF). At the MRF, the steel cans are magnetically separated from the other recyclables, crushed into large cubes called bales, and then shipped to steel mills or foundries for recycling. The steel cans are then combined with other steel scrap from other recycling locations, taken to a steel mill and melted in a furnace to make new steel for many new steel products which can include automobiles, appliances, construction materials or another container.

While many packaging materials have to be “downcycled” into lesser products, steel can be continuously recycled into any common steel product without a loss of quality.

What other steel products are recycled? 
Many steel products are recycled every day. Steel from appliancesautomobilesand construction materials is routinely recycled. Each year, more than 80 percent of the steel the domestic industry produces is recycled. That’s a lot of steel!

What does it mean to “buy recycled?” 
The term “buy recycled” refers to ways that you can help keep steel’s infinite life cycle a continual loop through buying products that are made of recycled materials. All steel contains a minimum of 25% recycled material so when you buy a steel product, whether it’s a paper clip, an appliance or a steel-framed home, you can be sure you’re “buying recycled.”

What are the benefits of recycling steel? 
Recycling steel helps save landfill space while providing a valuable scrap resource to the steel industry. Using old steel to make new steel also preserves natural resources and energy. For every ton of steel recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved. And in a year, the steel industry conserves the equivalent energy to power about 18 million homes for 12 months or enough to provide the city of Los Angeles power for roughly eight years.




At Leveltek International, we are always looking for the incredible things that steel creates. The New Safe Confinement is the structure intended to contain the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, Ukraine, part of which was destroyed by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.


The sarcophagus that currently encases Unit 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a giant metal concrete structure quickly constructed as an emergency measure in 1986 to halt the release of radiation into the atmosphere following the explosion. The official Russian name is “Obyekt Ukrytiye” which means shelter or covering.

It is estimated that within the shelter there is 200 tons of radioactive corium, 30 tons of contaminated dust and 16 tons of uranium and plutonium (source Wikipedia). In 1996 it was considered impossible to repair the sarcophagus as radiation levels within it were as high as 10,000 röntgens per hour (background radiation in cities is around 20-50 microröntgens per hour, a lethal dose being 500 röntgens over 5 hours).inside-sarcophagus

A decision to replace the sarcophagus with a “New Safe Containment” was taken and construction of the new structure is now well underway. Originally planned to be in place by 2005, the New Shelter is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.




The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement is the largest moveable steel structure out there. It will prevent radioactive leakage from the old nuclear site. Just one way steel is keeping us safe! 

According to The Chernobyl Gallery, The New Safe Confinement (NSC or New Shelter) is the structure, paid for by the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, intended to fully contain the damaged nuclear reactor and prevent the reactor complex from leaking further radioactive material into the environment for the next 100 years. The confinement is expected to be completed by the French consortium Novarka in 2015.


Photographs of construction progress can be seen at


The word “confinement” is used rather than the traditional “containment” to emphasize the difference between the “containment” of radioactive gases that is the primary focus of most reactor containment buildings, and the “confinement” of solid radioactive waste that is the primary purpose of the New Safe Confinement.

Objectives of the NSC:


  • Make the destroyed ChNPP Unit 4 environmentally safe (i.e. contain the radioactive materials at the site to prevent further environmental contamination)
  • Reduce corrosion and weathering of the existing shelter and the Unit 4 reactor building
  • Mitigate the consequences of a potential collapse of either the existing shelter or the Unit 4 reactor building, particularly in terms of containing the radioactive dust that would be produced by such a collapse.
  • Enable safe deconstruction of unstable structures (such as the roof of the existing shelter) by providing remotely operated equipment for their deconstruction.

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about The Chernobyl New Safe Confinement

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.08.53 PMU.S. Steel Corp. (X) is out and Martin Marietta Materials is in. After five straight annual losses, the 113-year-old metal producer, will be replaced in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by Martin Marietta Materials Inc. (MLM) 

This announcement came late last month. The Pittsburgh based company was founded by J.P. Morgan and steel magnates including Andrew Carnegie, but according to a statement from S&P Dow Jones Indices the metal producer is too small for the American equity benchmark. 

“It’s an old name,” Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, a senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management, said in a phone interview from Birmingham, Alabama. “There may be some short-term price movement based on the fact that it’s not in the index, but it’s not going out of every index.”

According to an article on, U.S. Steel, the country’s largest producer of the metal by volume, has struggled amid overcapacity in the global steel industry and competition from cheap imports. It has posted five straight annual losses and the shares tumbled 12 percent this year. 

Shares of the Pittsburgh-based company were included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) in 1901. Ninety years later, when the company was called USX Corp., it was dropped.

Martin Marietta, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, has seen its shares rally 32 percent in 2014. It has a market value of about $6.1 billion and the U.S. Justice Department yesterday approved its $2.7 billion purchase of Texas Industries Inc., helping the company gain entry into the cement market amid a recovery in the construction industry.

Steel may seem like a standard material in skyscrapers, office buildings, schools, and big retail stores, but it can be manipulated to create intricate structures and architectural wonders. Check out these eye-catching buildings created with structural steel:


1) Nascar Hall of Fame | Charlotte, North Carolina

Nascar Hall of Fame


Steel trusses are used to achieve significant spans in the project:

  • A set of trusses spanning 175 feet achieve a grand column-free ballroom
  • A 100-foot-long, bi-level footbridge, supported by a pair of one-story-deep trusses, links the ballroom with the existing Charlotte Convention Center
  • Two- and three-story-high trusses cantilever 30 feet over the broadcast studio.


2) City Creek Center Retractable Roof | Salt Lake City, Utah

City Creek Center Retractable Roof

The resulting retractable, barrel‐vaulted roof is configured in two sections, each spanning one city block:

  • Each section is 240 ft. long and 58 ft wide, with an S‐shape that echoes the curve of the signature City Creek
  • The precision‐sculpted steel and glass transparently shields patrons when closed, and disappears from sight when open; connecting nature with the areas below.


3) Bird’s Nest | Beijing, China

Bird's Nest

  • 110,000 tons of the steel were used in this structure built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
  • “In China, a bird’s nest is very expensive, something you eat on special occasions.”- New York Times
  • According to Reuters, more than 17,000 people worked on this one stadium alone


Gateway Arch | St. Louis, Missouri

Gateway Arch

  • The Arch is made of 142 stainless Steel Sections
  •  The structure was built as a monument to Thomas Jefferson and all those pioneers for who St. Louis was the Gateway to the West
  • The Gateway Arch is made of steel and concrete
  • Double wall construction with 1/4” stainless steel on the outside and 3/8” structural steel inside
  • The distance between the wall or “skins” at the surface is 3 feet, narrowing to less than 1 foot at the top
  • There is a layer of concrete between the skins approximately half way up the legs of the Gateway Arch


Sources: BDC Network