(Pickling process results)
Pickling process stations can run either with continuous sheets of metal or semi-continuous sheets for one coil at a time.
The output of a pickling process is a hot-rolled picked and oiled (P & O) coil or sheet steel. It is an optional treatment that slitting lines can specialize in for servicing customers using hot rolled mill products.
Pickling is a method of cleaning the black oxide scale formed onto steel after it undergoes hot rolling.
Scale has properties similar to rust and develops at the steels surface because the iron gets exposed to air and, more specifically, oxygen. This results in a hard bond that will degrade the material over time, precisely as rust will.
Not to mention, the appearance of hot-rolled metal without the pickling process is unacceptable both visually and for painting. Scale goes deeper into the steel rapidly as the temperature rises during the hot rolling procedure.
Some material will develop scale up to 1/8'. More typical jackets of scale that are generally introduced into the pickling process are far less, at less than one thousandth of an inch. Scale looks dark gray.
Pickling processing involves sending the coil metal sheet into acid baths sequentially. Some systems have four tanks with hydrochloric acid in varying concentrations.
Depending on the type of material and level of scale being addressed, the concentrations can range from about 2% to as high as 10%. The baths will use temperature as a method of increasing the acid activity.
Baths will be kept tightly between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the baths, or sometimes between them, chemical inhibitors can be used for avoiding damage to the metal beneath the scale layer. These chemical inhibitors will halt the acid action with a base component.
Speeds can range to around 540 feet per minute, but vary greatly with the level of scale incoming on the coils. Post baths, the metal takes on an attractive silver appearance without any resemblance to the dark scaled metal that entered the process.
The metal must be rinsed of all active acid by water spray, cold air dried, and then sent to loop accumulators. This constant speed process allows for consistent results. Keeping the metal in the baths too long will damage the metal and the finish.
After further sizing and shaping as required, the pickled material goes to the final processing area.
Including pickling processing capability enlarges the capability of a roll and coil processing operation.
After the pickling process, the material will need a rust proofing coating of some kind prior to shipment. Oil coatings, additional processing such as galvanizing, electroplating, or painting can all be offered for post processing with a pickling operation.
Hazardous materials used in the pickling process from hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid require special consideration for their safe use. Both the pickling processing line operators as well as the company have considerable liability when using these processes.
Waste products need to be safely removed and treated as hazardous waste. These considerations make pickling a challenging process for producers to handle despite the need for it.
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