What are Graphite Electrodes and Needle Coke?

May. 13, 2021

As a Graphite Electrodes Manufacturer, share with you. Graphite electrodes are the main heating element used in electric arc furnaces, which is a steelmaking process that melts scrap from old cars or old home appliances to produce new steel.

The construction cost of an electric arc furnace is cheaper than that of a traditional blast furnace, which is made of iron ore to make steel and is fueled by coking coal. However, steelmaking costs are higher because they use scrap steel and are driven by electricity.

Graphite Electrodes

Graphite Electrodes

The electrode is a part of the furnace cover and is assembled into a cylinder. Then, the current passes through the electrodes, forming a strong arc, melting the scrap. The size of the electrodes varies greatly, but the diameter can reach 0.75 meters (2 and a half feet), and the longest can reach 2.8 meters (9 feet). The largest weighs more than two metric tons.

Up to 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of graphite electrodes are required to produce one ton of steel.

The tip of the electrode will reach 3,000 degrees Celsius, half the temperature of the sun's surface. The electrodes are made of graphite because only graphite can withstand such high heat.

Then tilt the side of the furnace to pour the molten steel into a giant barrel called a ladle. The ladle then transports the molten steel to the continuous caster of the steel plant, where new products are made from the scrap of the continuous caster.

The electricity required for this process is enough to power a town with a population of 100,000. Each type of melt in a modern electric arc furnace usually takes about 90 minutes and can produce 150 tons of steel, enough to hold about 125 cars.

Needle coke is the main raw material used in the electrode, and the manufacturer says that this process can take up to six months to complete, including baking and rebake to convert the coke into graphite.

There are petroleum-based needle coke and coal-based needle coke, both of which can be used to produce graphite electrodes. "Petroleum coke" is a by-product of the oil refining process, and coal-based petroleum coke is made from coal tar that occurs during the tar production process.

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