Ferrochrome production is essentially a carbothermic reduction operation taking place at high temperatures. Cr Ore (an oxide of chromium and iron) is reduced by coal and coke to form the iron-chromium alloy. The heat for this reaction can come from several forms, but typically from the electric arc formed between the tips of the electrodes in the bottom of the furnace and the furnace hearth. This arc creates temperatures of about 2,800 °C (5,070 °F). In the process of smelting, huge amounts of electricity are consumed making production in countries with high power charges very costly.
Tapping of the material from the furnace takes place intermittently. When enough smelted ferrochrome has accumulated in the hearth of the furnace, the tap hole is drilled open and a stream of molten metal and slag rushes down a trough into a chill or ladle. The ferrochrome solidifies in large castings, which are crushed for sale or further processed.
Ferrochrome is often classified by the amount of carbon and chrome it contains. The vast majority of FeCr produced is charge chrome from Southern Africa. With high carbon being the second largest segment followed by the smaller sectors of low carbon and intermediate carbon material.
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