The 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.