May 30, 2017 Rotarians were treated to a fascinating tour of the Nucor Steel Facility in Berkeley County on Tuesday. The largest of 25 Nucor Steel Mills, the Berkeley Facility is what is considered a “mini mill” or one that is locally based in its material sourcing, labor supply and production. Although “mini” in the world of steel, Nucor Steel Berkeley sits on 8000 acres, 5000 of which is a protected wildlife preserve, and has 2.5 million square feet under roof. This facility produces steel bars such as Wide flange beams and I beams as well as coiled sheet steel. The overall process from raw material to finished product includes melting, casting and finally rolling.
Nucor Berkeley uses recycled steel that is categorized into groups of similar chemistry, then the melting process changes the chemistry of the metal as they remove unwanted impurities from the steel. They have 2 electric arc furnaces (EAF) for melting. Slag is the “sponge” that absorbs the unwanted materials and allows for their removal.
Once the impurities are removed, the liquid steel is analyzed for chemical makeup in a Ladle Metallurgical Furnace (LMF) and can be adjusted to meet the customers’ requirements by the addition of other elements to enhance chemical makeup or remove additional impurities. Notable in the Lowcountry is that the humidity makes unwanted hydrogen a concern to be monitored in steel production.
After the steel is chemically correct, it is sent to casting at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit to be solidified and cooled. From there it is delivered to the Hot Mill to be rolled into flat coiled steel. Such was the processes that we were able to observe. Our Rotary group had an hour plus tour but the full tour usually lasts 2-3 hours.
Notable stats on Nucor Berkeley include:
Plant was commissioned in 1996
Facility has approximately 940 employees.
Melts 50,000 tons of scrap metal per week
Has 3.5 Million Ton per year production capacity
Power bill is about $8 Million/month
Submitted by Don Baus, Keyway Committee