All iron melted via conventional techniques contains free-oxygen atoms. The amount of free-oxygen contamination varies depending upon the melting method and materials melted, but some free-oxygen atoms always exist.
Free-oxygen atoms are detrimental to the quality of solidified castings. They offer no benefits – only bad consequences from their presence.
Primary steelmakers deal with free-oxygen atoms’ presence by adding aluminum and other high-oxygen-affinity materials. A foundry or any manufacturer that melts iron cannot employ the same oxygen-atom-eliminating techniques. Iron foundries must seek other methods to control oxidation.
For a very long time iron foundries accepted oxidation as inevitable. Slag formation was thought to be a fundamental part of melting. Oxidation always occurred, and it could not be avoided. Most melt deck managers and operators tried to make the best of a bad situation.
The issue of oxidation has changed. For the first time since the beginning of the Iron Age, about 2500 years ago, iron can be melted without carbon and silicon oxidation losses. It is been shown now that iron melting can occur without oxidation.
Read more: Defining the Green Foundry Challenge
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