EAF blog post

Revitalizing the Steel Industry: The Transformative Role of Electric Arc Furnaces in Sustainable Steelmaking

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In the quest for more sustainable practices, the steel industry has found a promising ally in Electric Arc Furnaces (EAFs). Unlike traditional methods, EAFs utilize scrap metal and electric current instead of iron ore and coke. This shift in approach has significant implications for reducing the carbon footprint of steel production, marking a departure from the perceived inflexibility of the industry.

Steel, the backbone of modern construction and manufacturing, has long been an essential component of our everyday lives. However, its production comes at a significant environmental cost, contributing approximately 8% of total global emissions. The conventional method of steel manufacturing involves heating coal to produce coke, which is then burned in massive blast furnaces to melt iron ore. This process releases substantial carbon emissions, making the steel industry a notorious contributor to climate change.

Steel's ubiquity in our daily lives, from cars and airplanes to household appliances, underscores the urgency of finding cleaner and more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. The steel industry sees its responsibility for a substantial portion of global emissions, and has embraced sustainable alternatives for the well-being of our planet.

The Electric Arc Furnace (EAF): A Sustainable Revolution

Electric Arc Furnaces, which have been around for decades and are heralded as a beacon of change in the steel industry, offer a sustainable alternative to conventional blast furnaces. The most recyclable material globally, steel can now be produced entirely from scrap metal feedstock in EAFs. This process significantly reduces the energy required for steel production compared to traditional methods reliant on primary steelmaking from ores.

The numbers speak volumes – over 70% of U.S. steel comes from scrap steel melted in EAFs, resulting in carbon emissions as low as 14% of those associated with conventional processes. Beyond emission reductions, EAFs present a more flexible production model, allowing for rapid start-ups and shutdowns to align with fluctuating demand. This adaptability provides a critical advantage over the rigid operational nature of traditional blast furnaces.

The Inner Workings of Electric Arc Furnaces

Understanding the inner workings of EAFs unveils the intricacies of their contribution to sustainable steel production. Industrial EAFs come in various sizes, ranging from small one-tonne units used in foundries to large 400-tonne units employed in secondary steelmaking. Operating at temperatures surpassing 1,800 °C (3,300 °F), these furnaces play a pivotal role in transforming scrap metal into molten steel.

The process begins with the meticulous sorting of scrap metal into shred and heavy melt grades. Loaded into baskets, the scrap is carefully layered for optimal furnace operation, with considerations for furnace efficiency and safety. Some operations include pre-heating the scrap to enhance plant efficiency before the actual melting process begins.

The moment of meltdown is initiated with electrodes bore into the scrap, creating arcs that release potential energy and ignite a fiery spectacle. As the scrap melts, a byproduct known as slag forms, capturing impurities and reducing heat loss. This process involves multiple cycles of melting, refining, and superheating until the desired chemistry and temperature are achieved.

Tapping molten steel into ladles follows, marking the culmination of the production cycle. A portion of liquid steel and slag is intentionally left in the furnace to form a "hot heel," which aids in preheating the next charge of scrap and accelerates the melting process. The furnace then undergoes maintenance, including refractory inspections, ensuring a safe and efficient process at the heart of steelmaking.

Flexibility and Adaptability: Key Advantages of EAFs

What sets EAFs apart is their adaptability to varying production needs. Unlike blast furnaces, which operate continuously for extended periods, EAFs can be rapidly started and stopped, enabling steel mills to adjust production based on demand fluctuations. This flexibility aligns with the modern industrial landscape, where responsiveness and efficiency are paramount.

In scenarios where high-quality scrap is scarce, EAFs exhibit further flexibility by allowing the supplementation of lower quality scrap with direct reduced iron (DRI) and alloy additives. This versatility positions EAFs as a superior alternative to traditional blast furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces.

Looking Towards a Greener Future: The Role of Renewable Energy and Green Hydrogen-Produced DRI

As the global steel market is expected to grow by approximately 30% by 2050, the industry faces the challenge of reconciling growth with sustainability. To meet net-zero emissions goals set by major steelmakers, significant changes are required. The integration of EAFs powered by renewable energy, especially those utilizing green hydrogen-produced DRI, presents a transformative opportunity.

Renewable energy sources offer a cleaner and more sustainable power supply for EAFs, reducing the carbon output per ton of steel produced. Green hydrogen-produced DRI, when incorporated into the steelmaking process, brings the industry significantly closer to achieving carbon neutrality. This represents a crucial step forward in aligning steel production with broader environmental objectives and addressing the urgent need for more sustainable energy infrastructure.

A Local Perspective: R.T. Patterson's Commitment to Sustainable Steel Production

In Pittsburgh, a city synonymous with steel production, R.T. Patterson stands at the forefront of the industry's modernization. With a legacy of completing 13 melt shop engineering projects and winning ESWP's Industrial Project of the Year two decades ago for a Melt Shop at Wheeling Pittsburgh's Steel plant, our firm has a deep understanding of the importance of sustainable steel production.

The awarded project included a powerful 250-ton AC electric arc furnace and a state-of-the-art ladle furnace, representing a significant leap forward in sustainable steel production two decades ago. The advancements made in that project, coupled with our ongoing commitment to innovation, underscore our dedication to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the pursuit of sustainable steelmaking.

Considerations for EAF Installation: A Holistic Approach

While the benefits of EAFs are evident, the installation process requires a thoughtful and holistic approach. Factors such as shop configuration, furnace capacity, existing infrastructure, and the age of the facility (brownfield vs. greenfield) must be considered to ensure a seamless integration and maximize the environmental and operational advantages offered by EAF technology.

As we navigate the path toward a greener future, RTP remains committed to providing cutting-edge solutions that balance the operational needs of the steel industry with the imperative of environmental responsibility.

Forging a Sustainable Path Forward

The global EAF market was valued at 730 million in 2023, and is expected to reach 1,473 million by 2023. The rise of Electric Arc Furnaces marks a significant shift in the steel industry's trajectory towards sustainability. By embracing these innovative technologies, the industry has the potential to not only reduce its environmental impact but also thrive in a rapidly changing global landscape.

In the coming years, the continued evolution of steel production processes, guided by principles of environmental stewardship and technological innovation, will play a pivotal role in shaping a world where progress and sustainability coexist harmoniously. The journey towards a carbon-neutral steel industry is underway, and Electric Arc Furnaces are lighting the way.

Wayne interview blog post

Driving Excellence in Engineering Leadership: Interviewing the President at RTP, Your Trusted Industrial Engineering Firm

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With a wealth of engineering and leadership experience spanning 40 years within R.T. Patterson, Wayne Johnson, PE embodies the very essence of our industrial engineering firm. His journey mirrors the evolution of RTP, from its founding to becoming a leading force in the engineering landscape. Wayne’s visionary leadership has not only steered us through industry shifts but has also fostered an environment where innovation and collaboration thrive. In this blog post, we dive into Wayne's unparalleled contributions as our President, exploring how his expertise continues to drive RTP's commitment to excellence and lays the groundwork for future successes.

As someone who has dedicated over 40 years to R.T. Patterson, what's motivated you to stay with the company for such a significant period?

During college I, I worked at RTP for a summer job as a draftsman. After graduating college, I went to work for one of the largest engineering companies in the country, but I realized the work was very limiting, you were pigeonholed into only one bit of a project and that's all you did every day. So after about six months of doing that, I thought I'd like to come back to Pittsburgh, and RTP immediately came to mind. At RTP, the projects you were a part of weren’t huge projects, but you did every aspect of it, you weren't doing just in charge of one little piece. I started advancing in my career, from Project Manager to General Manager of the Pittsburgh operations, to Vice President of Engineering, and then to President of RTP when Roy Patterson stepped down. As I was doing these interesting projects and advancing my career, I felt no need to go look elsewhere. I truly enjoy working here!

What do you believe sets your team apart from your competitors?

We were and continue to be a family organization. RTP really looks out for their employee’s well-being and happiness in the workplace, and what’s happened over the years is when people come here, they come to stay. We actually have several people that have put in around 25 years, and a few that are approaching 40 years! We even had one employee who was with us for 50 years before retiring. And I think that kind of sets us apart quite a bit. It’s the people, and the environment created by our people.

What is RTP looking forward to as a new member of the ARG family?

I am genuinely excited about moving the company into new markets, with a special emphasis on mentoring the new generation of engineers. Most of our people are very experienced, being in the later stages of their career with many years under their belts. I'm really looking forward to creating a synergy that blends the fresh perspectives of our new engineers with the seasoned expertise of our veterans to see how we can continue to expand RTP for the next 60 years as a top industrial engineering firm serving clients across the United States.

Steel industry growth article

Powering Pittsburgh's Steel Engineering Industry: RTP's 50-Year Legacy

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With a steadfast commitment to excellence, RT Patterson (RTP) has been a pillar of strength for Pittsburgh's steel industry for over five decades, solidifying our place as the leading engineering firm in Pittsburgh. Recently, the global steel sector experienced a notable upswing, with world crude steel production seeing a 6.6 percent surge compared to the same period last year. As we move forward, this promising momentum in steel production showcases a robust industry ready for further expansion. 

In July alone, 63 countries reported a collective production of 158.5 million tons, marking a significant boost in steel output according to an enlightening article from Metal Center News. In the U.S., July saw the production of 6.9 million tons, indicating a 0.5 percent increase from the previous year. Although the year-to-date figures remained relatively flat globally, RTP has been at the forefront of supporting US steel production, contributing to the sector's resilience and growth.

RTP's extensive experience in the steel industry spans various projects, reinforcing our position as the go-to engineering firm for steel clients. From revitalizing production lines to designing cutting-edge steel facilities, our expertise has been pivotal in propelling the steel industry forward. At RT Patterson, we stand as dedicated supporters of U.S. steel production and are eager to witness the trajectory of this industry's growth throughout the remainder of 2023. RTP is poised to continue its legacy of excellence, driving innovation and progress in Pittsburgh's vibrant industrial engineering and steel sector. 

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R.T. Patterson Company Strengthens Engineering Capabilities with Acquisition by Allied Resources Group

We are thrilled to announce that Allied Resources Group (ARG), a leading provider of engineering, inspection, staffing, and technology solutions, has acquired R.T. Patterson Company (RTP). With a rich history spanning over 65 years, RTP is a respected and established engineering firm renowned for its expertise in heavy industrial engineering. This acquisition brings significant benefits to RTP and aligns perfectly with their vision for growth and delivering exceptional services to clients.

This strategic acquisition provides RTP with access to a wide range of resources and expertise across multiple industries. ARG's specialization in Engineering, Industrial Inspection, Project Management, Engineering, and Healthcare Staffing complements and enhances RTP's existing capabilities, allowing them to offer a more comprehensive suite of services to their clients. This expanded scope empowers RTP to tackle complex projects with increased efficiency and deliver even greater value. This alliance opens doors to new opportunities and markets, enabling RTP to extend its services and footprint beyond its current areas of operation. 

Wayne Johnson, President of RTP, shared his excitement about joining forces with ARG. "We are excited to join forces with ARG. We share a common vision and commitment to providing exceptional services and delivering value to our clients. Together, we can leverage our complementary strengths to drive growth and innovation in the industry."

Dennis F. Zatlin, CEO of ARG, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "We are thrilled to welcome R.T. Patterson Company to the ARG family. This acquisition is a significant milestone in our journey to become a leading provider of engineering, inspection, staffing and technology solutions to clients in the manufacturing, energy, and chemical markets. The addition of RTP’s talented team and expertise will enable us to offer a broader range of services to our clients and accelerate our growth, while strengthening our geographic footprint from the Midwest through the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions."

RTP's esteemed team will join ARG as a subsidiary, continuing to provide the high-quality services that their clients have come to expect. ARG is dedicated to upholding RTP's legacy and reputation while leveraging its expanded capabilities to deliver even greater value to clients.

About ARG:

ARG consists of six business units specializing in Engineering, Industrial Inspection, Project Management, Engineering, and Healthcare Staffing. To learn more about ARG and its comprehensive range of solutions, visit www.argroupllc.com.

About RTP:

R.T. Patterson Company is a respected engineering firm with a history dating back over 65 years. Renowned for its expertise in heavy industrial engineering, RTP has served clients in the metals, energy, chemical, and industrial sectors. For more information about RTP and its services, visit www.rtpatterson.com.

Stay tuned for more updates and collaborative successes as ARG and RTP combine their strengths to deliver exceptional engineering solutions and drive innovation in the industry.

rtp forging success

Engineered for Success: RTP Completes Project at CMC Steel Texas

We are excited to share RTP's most recent engineering project at CMC Steel Texas in Seguin, TX. This endeavor involved the replacement of the Electric Arc Furnace, installation of a new cooling system, and various additional components, all within an operating steel facility. Through hard work and consistent dedication by RTP's expert team of engineers, the project was executed flawlessly, exceeding expectations and achieving remarkable results.

Completing the project within a tight 47-day outage, three days ahead of the scheduled 50-day melt shop outage, showcases RTP's efficiency and dedication to delivering on time. The demolition and installation of equipment went seamlessly, setting the stage for a smooth transition to the newly implemented systems.

One of the project's standout achievements was the operation of both the new and modified equipment, which commenced on day 47 and has since continued without a hitch. This seamless integration speaks towards RTP's meticulous planning and execution capabilities, ensuring minimal disruption to CMC Steel's operations.

The resounding success of the project left the customer, CMC Steel, highly satisfied with RTP's engineering capabilities. Their confidence in RTP's ability to execute complex projects and deliver exceptional results further solidifies our position as a trusted partner in the steel industry.

We extend a heartfelt congratulations to the entire RTP team for their exceptional work, unwavering dedication, and successful collaboration throughout the project. This achievement is a testament to their commitment to engineering excellence and their passion for surpassing client expectations.

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RTP Unveils an Exciting Rebrand, Ushering in a New Era of Engineering Excellence in Pittsburgh and Beyond

As part of the combined acquisition initiative by RTP and ARG, RTP underwent an exciting rebranding transformation. This includes an updated logo, a complete overhaul of our website, and the introduction of dedicated social media channels.

RTP's new logo embodies the essence of their engineering history, representing their passion for innovation and the dedication to delivering top-notch solutions while incorporating Allied Resource's color scheme. It reflects RTP's forward-thinking approach, while honoring the rich history and expertise that spans over 60 years.

The revamped website showcases a modern and user-friendly design, making it easier than ever for visitors to explore our comprehensive range of engineering services, expertise, and successful projects. It offers enhanced navigation, informative content, and an engaging visual experience that perfectly captures the essence of RTP's experience in the engineering sector.

In line with RTP's commitment to foster stronger connections with their clients and peers, they are excited to launch dedicated social media channels on LinkedIn and Facebook. These platforms will serve as valuable communication channels, allowing RTP to share industry insights, project updates, and important announcements, while also providing an interactive space for conversations and networking within their professional community.

This rebranding initiative is an important milestone for RTP and they firmly believe that effective communication is essential for success in today's fast-paced world, and their renewed focus on social media will enable them to engage more actively, share knowledge, and foster collaboration within the industry. 

RTP invites you to explore their newly revamped website and connect with us on our social media channels. Stay tuned for exciting updates, industry trends, and insightful content that will help RTP collectively drive innovation and engineering excellence forward!