Ferrochrome, or Ferrochromium (FeCr) is a type of ferroalloy, that is,
an alloy between chromium and iron, generally containing 50% to 70%
chromium by weight.
Ferrochrome is produced by electric arc carbothermic reduction of
chromite. Most of the world's ferrochrome is produced in South Africa,
Kazakhstan and India, which have large domestic chromite resources.
Increasing amounts are coming from Russia and China. The production of
steel is the largest consumer of ferrochrome, especially the
production of stainless steel with chromium content of 10 to 20% is
the main application of ferrochrome.
Over 80% of the world's ferrochrome is utilised in the production of
stainless steel. In 2006 28 Mt of stainless steel were produced.
Stainless steel depends on chromium for its appearance and its
resistance to corrosion. The average chrome content in stainless steel
is approximately 18%. It is also used when it is desired to add
chromium to carbon steel. FeCr from Southern Africa, known as "charge
chrome" and produced from a Cr containing ore with a low carbon
content, is most commonly used in stainless steel production.
Alternatively, high carbon FeCr produced from high grade ore found in
Kazakhstan (among other places) is more commonly used in specialist
applications such as engineering steels where a high Cr to Fe ratio
and minimum levels of other elements such as sulfur, phosphorus and
titanium are important and production of finished metals takes place
in small electric arc furnaces compared to large scale blast furnaces.
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 cost very expensive.
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
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
^ "ASTM A482".
^ "Ferrochromium -- Specification and conditions of delivery - ISO
^ Jorgenson, John D.; Corathers, Lisa A.; Gambogi, Joseph; Kuck, Peter
H.; Magyar, Michael J.; Papp, John F.; Shedd; Kim B. "Mineral Yearbook
2006: Ferroalloys" (PDF). United States Geological Survey. Retrieved
^ Lisa A. Corathers; Joseph Gambogi; Peter H. Kuck; John F. Papp;
Désirée E. Polyak; Kim B. Shedd. "Mineral Yearbook 2009:
Ferroalloys" (PDF). United States Geological Survey. Retrieved