Steel Industry cont.



Federal Furnace / Interlake / Acme Steel

Interlake Iron Corporation opened a coke plant on Torrence Avenue near 112th Street on June 23, 1905 under the name of By Products Coke Corporation. In 1915, a blast furnace plant, shown above and known as the Federal Furnace Plant, was acquired by the By Products Coke Corporation and both plants since that time have been operated under one management. The plant originally went to operation in December, 1905. The greatest portion of the coal used by this company comes from mines in West Virginia and Kentucky by rail to Lake Erie ports, thence by boat to the company's slip on the Calumet River. The principal product of the plant was Solvay Coke. 

Acme Steel Coke Ovens on Torrence Avenue

The coke plant is located on the rails of the Chicago Short Line Railway. Per day, the company employed about 350 persons. The present corporation was formed in December 29, 1929, and consists of blast furnaces and coke oven plants.

Valley Mould and Iron Corporation, 108th Street and the Calumet River, was previously known as the Thomas D. West Company. The first owners were Thomas D. West and George H. Boyd. The original plant moved several times. In 1925, this company built its ingot mould plant in South Chicago, and it was the first in the United States to manufacture ingot moulds from direct metal which is taken from the blast furnace. It was the largest manufacturer of cupola moulds, and ingot moulds in the United States and perhaps the largest in the world. The Chicago plant furnished western steel producers for many years.  The plant is no longer in operation and has been torn down.  (Article by Sandra R. and Elizabeth R.)



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The Steel Making Process

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon and possibly other elements. Henry Bessemer developed a process for making steel in 1855 and invented the Bessemer furnace which made steel by refining molten iron with blasts of hot air, hance the name "blast furnace". Blast frunaces are still used to make steel from iron ore but some mills produce steel from scrap metal in electric furnaces. They are often referred to as "mini mills".

Pouring Steel

In the basic steel making process coal is first baked in huge ovens which burn off most of its gasas and convert the coal to coke. Coke burns hotter and cleaner than coal. Coke, iron, and limestone are sent to the blast furnace. Coke provides the heat, iron the basic material, and limestone is a cleanser. For a ton of molten pig iron it takes 2600 pounds of iron ore or ore pellets, 1000 pounds of coke, and a few hundred pounds of limestone or other calcium based material. The materials are melted and the molten iron is collected from the bottom of the furnace. The lime from the stone combines with impurities in the ore to form "slag" which floats to the top of the batch because it is lighter than the metal. The impurities are then skimmed off and disposed of. The molten iron is then made into steel by blowing oxygen onto it. The steel is then poured into molds and cooled. Later the steel is reheated and rolled into coils or flattened into sheets. (Article by Marisol H.)