Graphite electrode is the only material with low resistivity and resistance to thermal gradient in electric arc furnace. It is mainly made of two kinds of raw materials, namely, oil series or coal series needle coke and coal tar. The main characteristics of the production are long production cycle (usually lasting three to five months), large power consumption and complex production process.
According to different raw materials and physical and chemical indexes of the finished products, graphite electrodes can be divided into three categories, namely, ordinary power graphite electrode, high power graphite electrode and ultra-high power graphite electrode. The specification and performance of ultra-high power graphite electrode are better. For example, compared with ordinary power and high power graphite electrode, the overall density is higher, the effective resistance is lower, the flexural strength is higher, the total number of pores is less, and the ash content is lower. Ultra high power graphite electrode is mainly used for steel manufacturing of electric arc furnace, ladle furnace and smelting furnace. Compared with ultra-high power graphite electrode, ordinary power graphite electrode and high power graphite electrode are generally of lower grade in graphite electrode products.
In recent years, the global crude steel output has maintained a steady growth. With the wide application of steel in automobile, construction, packaging, railway and other industries, the global steel consumption shows a steady growth trend. At the same time, with the improvement of steel product quality and the continuous improvement of environmental protection requirements, steel manufacturers have turned their attention to electric arc furnace steelmaking, and put forward higher requirements for the quality of graphite electrodes necessary for electric arc furnace. It is estimated that the global crude steel output will reach about 2273 million metric tons in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of about 3.1% from 2021 to 2026. In the future, leading enterprises in the global graphite electrode market will continue to take improving capacity utilization as one of the main objectives, continue to integrate backward capacity, optimize production technology, improve production efficiency, and are expected to increase the output of ultra-high power graphite electrodes.