A pear-shaped furnace, lined with refractory bricks, that refines molten iron from the blast furnace and scrap into steel. Up to 30% of the charge into the BOF can be scrap, with hot metal accounting for the rest.
BOFs, which can refine a heat (batch) of steel in less than 45 minutes, replaced open-hearth furnaces in the 1950s; the latter required five to six hours to process the metal. The BOF's rapid operation, lower cost and ease of control give it a distinct advantage over previous methods.
Scrap is dumped into the furnace vessel, followed by the hot metal from the blast furnace. A lance is lowered from above, through which blows a high-pressure stream of oxygen to cause chemical reactions that separate impurities as fumes or slag. Once refined, the liquid steel and slag are poured into separate containers.