I was looking up a book about choosing refractories (a fire resistant type of brick) for steel industries. In the introduction, the author writes (emphasis mine):

Why do you pick the refractory you do? How do you choose? Where do you start the selection process?


The answers to the first three questions - in a word they are COMPLEX. It is always a balance of competing interests between operations, purchasing and the suppliers. The refractory engineer/selector is at a crossroads to decide which is the correct material for each application.

The goal of this book is not to select refractories for any individual facility or process or piece of equipment, but instead to provide a step by step process for how to do it.

This book will be a guideline, with enough depth to provide a good solid basis for material selection, but well short of the depth needed to actually design a material from a refractory manufacturer point of view. The first five chapters will be the process described, and the next five chapters some principles for key pieces of the steel shop.

Note that the examples will be for steelmaking only as it makes up ~80% of the dollars spent by a steel plant (~50% of the worldwide refractory market); however, the process can be used in any refractory application in any industry.

What exactly does the author mean with the "~80% of dollars spent"? Is it 80% of the total steel plant's expenses? This would really surprise me, since refractories are not that expensive (~750$ per ton) and steel plants have huge heating needs.

A friend said that he understands steel plants to be responsible for 80% of the entire refractory revenue. But this doesn't make sense to me. Why would they pay 80% of the revenue for only 50% of product?

1 Answer 1


It's unclear.

My first reading was that 80% of dollars spent in a steel plant are spent on steelmaking. But this seems unlikely and irrelevant.

My second thought is that 80% of the money spent on refractories by steel plants is spent on refractories for steel making. That is relevant, but I wonder what the other 20% is spent on (I read that steel plants are important producers of sulphur, naphtha and ammonia, as by-products, so that may be the explanation)

Your friend might be right. It may be that steel plants require very high-quality and high-value refractories, so steel plants are 80% of revenue, but only 50% of the product.

The text is unclear. But also not very important, (if your goal is to understand refractory purchasing decisions) so I suspect most readers would just skip past that line.

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