Specialty steel producer Ellwood National Steel placed a contract with SMS Siemag LLC to install a new vacuum oxygen decarburizing (VOD) unit, to start up in December 2012 at the manufacturer’s melt shop in Irvine, PA. ENS is an operating unit of The Ellwood Group Inc., which also includes Ellwood Quality Steels and numerous forging operations (Ellwood Crankshaft and Machine, Ellwood National Crankshaft, Ellwood National Forge, Corry Forge, Ellwood City Forge, and Ellwood Texas Forge.)

The value of the contract was not reported. SMS Siemag LLC is the local operating unit of German metallurgical plant builder SMS Group. Its SMS Mevac division will provide the VOD process technology.

VOD is a secondary metallurgy process for treating specialty steels under vacuum, in order to produce low-carbon stainless grades. Molten steel is stirred using an electrical current as oxygen is added to the ladle and gaseous impurities are evacuated by a vacuum pump. Alloys and other additives are added to adjust the final metallurgical composition.

The VOD unit will be designed with a mechanical vacuum pump rather than a boiler-based steam ejector. SMS indicated the ENS project will be the first VOD unit in the U.S. with mechanical vacuum pumps, including gas cooler and bag filter system to reduce the environmental impact.

SMS is supplying all the mechanical process equipment, including an alloy addition system, and the electrical and automation systems. The latter will include Level 1 and 2 control packages.

Ellwood National Steel (ENS) opened in 2005 as an extension of Ellwood Quality Steels, with a 50-ton electric arc furnace to produce carbon and low-alloy steel forging ingots up to 47-in. diameter. A ladle metallurgy furnace was added in 2007.