State of the art in evaluation and control of steel cleanliness

Lifeng Zhang, Brian G. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This paper first reviews the current "state-of-the-art" in the evaluation of steel cleanliness, discussing over 20 different methods. The demand for cleaner steels requires lowering non-metallic oxide inclusions and also controlling their morphology, composition and size distribution. Because no single method can measure all of these aspects accurately, it is best to combine several methods together to quantify steel cleanliness in a given operation. Owing to the cost, time requirements, and sampling difficulties, steel cleanliness is widely inferred using total oxygen, nitrogen pick-up, and other indirect methods. Recent cleanliness values using these indicators are summarized for LCAK at many steel plants around the world. Secondly, this paper reviews operating practices to improve steel cleanliness at the ladle, tundish and continuous caster, emphasizing findings quantified with plant measurements. Inclusions come from many sources, including deoxidation, reoxidation, slag entrapment, refractory wear, and chemical reactions. They generate many defects such as cracks and slivers in the steel product. Steel cleanliness is controlled by attention to a wide range of important operating conditions throughout the steelmaking and casting processes. For ladle operations, FeO and MnO in the slag, ladle treatments, and inclusion modification are discussed. For tundish operations, tundish depth and capacity, casting transitions, refractory lining, tundish flux; gas stirring, and flow controls are discussed. Important transfer operations from ladle to tundish and from tundish to mold, such as argon protection, sealing issues, and SEN clogging are summarized. Caster operations reviewed include the effect of casting speed, fluid flow pattern control, surface level control, and caster curvature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-291
Number of pages21
JournalISIJ International
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Caster
  • Inclusions
  • Ladle
  • Mold
  • Nitrogen pick-up
  • Plant measurement
  • Steel cleanliness
  • Total oxygen
  • Tundish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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