Deoxidation of steel, also known as killing of steel, occurs toward the end of the steelmaking process, but before desulphurization. After primary steelmaking, for example in a basic oxygen furnace (BOF) or electric arc furnace (EAF), the liquid steel contains a large amount of dissolved oxygen [O] (400 to over 1000 ppm, see the example on kinetic simulation of BOF process). This oxygen must be removed from the liquid steel for several reasons, including:
- Desulphurization is not effective with high oxygen content in the steel (see example on desulphurization)
- Continuous casting of un-killed steel is not possible and will result in “boiling” of the steel in the mould and massive porosity, as shown in the figure.
Blowholes formed during casting of a steel billet with insufficient deoxidation.
The two most widely applied methods of deoxidizing or killing the steel are adding Al (Al-killed steel) to the steel and adding Si (Si-killed steel) to the steel. These elements readily react with oxygen to form oxides that precipitate within the liquid steel. This does not reduce the total amount of oxygen in the liquid steel; it simply transforms the dissolved oxygen into an oxide precipitate. This oxide precipitate then needs to be removed from the steel by flotation during secondary metallurgy in the ladle furnace (LF).