EIA touts scrap metal’s energy efficiency

EIA touts scrap metal’s energy efficiency

Agency briefing spells out energy savings from using aluminum and ferrous scrap.

May 12, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Commodities Forecasts & Statistics Metals
The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), Washington, has chosen the energy savings yielded from melting scrap as the focus of its “Today in Energy” article for May 9, 2014.

In a seven-paragraph article, the EIA states, “the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that secondary steel production uses about 74 percent less energy than the production of steel from iron ore while the U.S. Department of Energy reports that secondary aluminum production requires 90 percent less energy than primary production.”

Producers of steel and aluminum have taken advantage of this energy efficiency factor, the EIA says.
“Secondary production accounts for nearly 60 percent of U.S. aluminum production (counting both old and new scrap), while primary production accounts for almost 40 percent,” the EIA article says. “Similarly, recycling is used in most steel production. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 40 percent of U.S. steel production in 2011 came from basic oxygen furnaces (BOF), whose inputs are almost 80 percent pig iron (molten iron), whereas 60 percent of production came from electric arc furnaces (EAF), which use more than 90 percent scrap.”

The savings being achieved by U.S. producers are important, the EIA says, because “the production of iron, steel and aluminum is a highly energy-intensive process, accounting for 10 percent of total manufacturing energy use. The use of recycling in the manufacturing process of these metals has been a main driver of improvements in energy efficiency within the industry.”

The EIA includes definitions of scrap categories, writing, “Iron and steel scrap is classified as home, old and new scrap. Home, or mill, scrap is generated in the steel mill during production and is recycled in the same facility. Old scrap is postconsumer scrap. The largest source of old scrap is discarded automobiles, along with appliances, machinery, worn out railroad cars and tracks, demolished steel structures and other steel products. New scrap is produced during the manufacturing process.”