Script - Heroult Electric Furnace Dedication

Remarks by Steve Frodge
ISS Electric Furnace Division Chairman

Thank you, Mr. Binczewski. It is indeed my pleasure to be here today at this very important dedication. My name is Steve Frodge and I am the current chairman of the Iron & Steel Society's Electric Furnace Division. As you might guess, this dedication has significant meaning to our organization because quite frankly, if it were not for the invention of the electric furnace, we would not exist today.

Few people, thru-out history, have ever invented an operation, or designed a piece of equipment, that has stood the test of time. Dr. Paul Heroult was one of those who did.

From the vision of Dr. Heroult, and the installation of an Electric Arc Furnace on this site in 1907, a seed was planted in the United States that would eventually grow to help build cities, help win wars, and offer a means of income for thousands of people and businesses over the course of the last 92 years.

I might also add to that comment that if it were not for the Electric Furnace invention, the steel industry would not be the modern, highly efficient, and automated industry that currently exists. In fact, today's US steel industry accounts for some 105 millions tons of production each year with electric furnace operations accounting for nearly 50% of that total.

If we think about what steel making conditions existed in the early 1900s you have to remember people like, Frick, Carnegie, and Schwab who were all involved in the making of steel. These were the people who created the "big steel" image and who are famous for the building of steel mill towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. But in the midst of all that, you have Paul Heroult who was probably much less a capitalist of those times and who created a process that was much more futuristic in nature. Steel was made either by the Bessemer process or with an open hearth furnace during the 1900s ... so it seems ironic that today the only surviving steel making process from that time period was invented by Paul Heroult. The history books need to be rewritten to give credit to this man and his steel making process as companies like Nucor, Steel Dynamics, TXI, and mine, Harrison Steel Castings Company, use this process to make the steel which will be used in the 21st Century.

 You see, the Bessemer process and the open hearth furnace did not survive the 20th century. The last operating open hearth furnace was closed in 1989 in the United States and the Bessemer process has not been used since World War 2. Paul Heroult was a visionary, saw another way to make steel and pursued the challenge of this endeavor.

All successful arc furnaces in this country today are essentially) three phase / three electrode furnaces, and with the exception of some design details, they are the same type furnace that Dr. Heroult developed in 1899.

Out of this growing industry a need came for gathering together and exchanging knowledge on the operation of these furnaces. In 1943 the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers held the first Electric Furnace Steel Conference. Several of the papers presented at this first conference were about developments in the arc furnace industry over the prior 30+ years. Dr. Heroult's name is cited several times in these proceedings.

In 1974 the Iron & Steel Society of AIME was formed and they took over the presentation of the Electric Furnace Conference. The Iron & Steel Society seeks to be the premier professional and technical society serving its member and advancing knowledge exchange in the global Iron & Steel Industry. The society is presently over 8,500 members strong worldwide and consists of 5 Divisions and 9 Student Charters.

The Electric Furnace Division, of which I have the honor of representing, is dedicated to bring into association, within the Iron & Steel Society, those persons engaged or interested in the operation, design, maintenance, and under standing of Electric Furnaces, including but not limited to Electric Arc Furnaces, Induction Furnaces, Plasma Furnaces, and secondary Refining Units.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Iron & Steel Society and the 57th Electric Furnace Conference to be presented. I wish all of you could attend this conference to see how Dr. Heroult's idea of 1899 has evolved into the sophisticated Electric Arc Furnaces of today.

As many of you know, the electric furnace installed on this site, was the first used for the direct reduction of iron ore. Today's steel industry is very actively developing methods for direct reduced iron. This is probably one of the largest areas of research and development in the industry at the present time. In fact, the Iron & Steel Society would confirm for you that the best selling book at the present time published by the Society is on DRI.

So as you can see from Dr. Heroult's small seed planted on this site in 1907, a process and industry has grown that has helped construct, sustain thru difficult times, and propel this great country into the next millenium.

So today as I participate in the dedication of this plaque in honor of Paul Heroult, I say thank you for having the vision and the commitment to trying new ideas and processes. Today's modern steel industry owes this man an incredibly large thank you. For without the invention of the electric furnace, the steel industry would not be as efficient or as lean as it is today. Just 25 years ago, the steel industry directly employed over 500,000 individuals. Today with the electric furnace steel making companies leading the way, the steel industry directly employees only 165,000 people.

So, as I close, let me say thank you to Paul Heroult on behalf of the steel industry and for those of us who are involved in the electric furnace industry today.

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