216-676-2000 info@graftech.com

Electric Arc Furnace Solutions

UCAR® Graphite Electrodes

Graphite electrodes are used mainly in electric arc furnace steel production. They are presently the only products available that have the high levels of electrical conductivity and the capability of sustaining the extremely high levels of heat generated in this demanding environment. Graphite electrodes are also used to refine steel in ladle furnaces and in other smelting processes.

GrafTech International introduced UCAR® Grade AGX™ ultra-high power (UHP) graphite electrodes and Grade AGX™ supersize graphite electrodes, 700 to 750 mm in diameter. Now GrafTech International offers unique Grade ALX™ pinless graphite electrodes to address the issues of stub losses and poor bottom joint performance, Grade LFX™  premium quality electrodes designed and engineered specifically for the ladle furnaces and non-steel applications.

ArchiTech™ Furnace Productivity System 4.0

Visit the ArchiTech™ portal or click here to learn how this system can benefit your business.  Contact GrafTech’s ArchiTech team directly with any questions at architech@graftech.com.

What is a Graphite Electrode?

Graphite electrodes are used almost exclusively within the electric arc furnace of a steel mill. So, to understand a graphite electrode, first you must understand what an electric arc furnace is.

OK. What is an Electric Arc Furnace?

An electric arc furnace is essentially a big recycling machine. Simply put, it’s a large pot into which scrap steel, like old cars, bicycles, and refrigerators, are dumped. The furnace operator loads (called charging the furnace) carefully screened and selected scrap steel into this big pot. Then, the operator swings the furnace lid back over the pot and lowers it into place.

The electrodes are part of the furnace roof structure. Electrodes can be small, 75 millimeters (3 inches) in diameter, or quite large, up to 750 millimeters (30 inches) in diameter and as much as 2800 millimeters long. The largest weigh more than two metric tons (4,400 lbs.). The manufacturer of the furnace determines the size the electrode should be.

The electrodes are assembled into columns, usually 3 to a column. Graphite connecting pins-tapered and threaded on each end screw two electrodes together. Some furnace operators assemble the columns on the shop floor and lift them into place whole. Others add electrodes one at a time to the top of the column while it is still on the furnace. Each electrode column has a large steel arm which moves it up and down.

Furnaces using 3-phase AC (alternating current) electricity have 3 electrode columns; DC (direct current) furnaces only need one column of electrodes, but they are generally larger in diameter.

Once the furnace lid is in place, the electrodes are lowered until the tip of the electrode column almost touches the top of the scrap steel. Huge amounts of electricity–large furnaces use enough electricity for a town of 40,000 people–flow through large water-cooled cables into the electrodes. At the bottom of the electrode column, the electricity jumps (or arcs) from the electrode tip to the nearest piece of scrap steel. The intense heat of this electric arc melts the scrap steel, hence the name of the electric arc furnace.

The tip of the electrode will reach 3,000 degrees Celsius or 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, half the temperature of the surface of the sun. Electrodes are made of graphite because only graphite can withstand this incredible temperature.

Eventually, all the steel is melted. The furnace operator turns off the power and raises the electrode columns. The furnace is then tipped on its side to pour the molten steel into giant buckets called ladles. The ladles quickly carry the molten steel to the steel mill’s caster which is the next step in making new and useful products from recycled scrap steel.

To answer the question, then, what is a graphite electrode? A graphite electrode is a device to conduct electricity down into an electric arc furnace which generates sufficient heat to melt scrap steel.

Making a UCAR® Graphite Electrode

Mill, Mix & Forming

formingPremium quality calcined coke is crushed, screened, and hot-blended with pitch in controlled proportions. The resulting plastic mass is extruded through a forming press and cut into specified lengths before being water-cooled in a temperature controlled bath.


bakingGreen electrodes are placed in large cans called saggers (pronounced say gers) and baked to over 800° C (1400° F) in specially designed, computer-controlled furnaces. It takes 1-to-2 weeks to carbonize the pitch depending upon the size of the electrodes being made. After cooling, the carbon electrodes are cleaned, inspected, and sample-tested.


impregnationNext, the baked electrodes are impregnated with a special pitch to give them the higher density, mechanical strength, and electrical conductivity they will need to withstand the severe operating conditions inside our customers’ electric arc furnaces.


rebakeA second baking cycle, or “rebake,” is required to carbonize the pitch impregnation and to drive off any remaining volatiles. Rebake temperatures reach almost 750°C (1300° F).


graphitizingThe rebaked carbon electrodes are further processed in long electric resistance furnaces. Laid end-to-end, or “longitudinally,” the electrodes are heated to over 3000° C (5000° F). This ultra high temperature restructures the carbon to its crystalline form—graphite. Then the electrodes are once again cooled, cleaned, inspected, and sample-tested under GrafTech’s rigorous control procedures.


machiningIn Machining, the electrodes outer dimension are turned to its finished dimension. The two end faces are also machined to tolerance and given threaded sockets. The sockets accept GrafTech’s double-tapered, machine-threaded graphite connecting pins which allow our customers to join electrodes together into columns.


shipping-processAfter machining, the finished graphite electrodes are inspected, protectively capped and palletized. Each electrode prominently displays the GrafTech™ UCAR® Graphite Electrode logo as it is sent on its way to our customers.

Selecting the proper UCAR® electrode grade

UCAR® GRADE AGX™ GRAPHITE ELECTRODE – A premium grade recommended for high power, ultra-high power and DC furnaces operating under severe electrical and/or mechanical conditions. AGX is graphite electrodes are also recommended for ladle furnace applications because of its increased current-carrying capacity. UCAR® GRADE ALX™ GRAPHITE ELECTRODE – A unique grade addressing applications where stub losses and column breakage is an issue. UCAR® GRADE LFX™ GRAPHITE ELECTRODE – A premium grade recommended for ladle furnaces or for low-power melting applications where standard electrodes fail to perform. The charts on this page (for melting furnaces and ladle furnaces) are based on the heating effect in a graphite electrode column by applying an assumed average phase current.

Typical Current Carrying Ranges

graph-ladle graph-melting

Size & Grade Selection

To properly select the right UCAR® graphite electrode for your application, always consider the following operating characteristics of your furnace: Conversion Cost Steel type and grade Electrode consumption goal Refractory consumption goal Productivity goal Electrode Strength and Oxidation Furnace design Scrap types/Charging practice Burner/Oxygen usage Water spray rings Fume control system Power Input Program Meltdown/Refine/Tap-to-Tap Time Power level Slag practice

When You Say Ship It, GrafTech Does It WellWorldwide.

Depend on GrafTechshipping

GrafTech’s global production network provides you with a reliable supply of quality UCAR® Graphite Electrodes.

We work closely with trucking companies who know your delivery requirements and who provide timely, reliable delivery at a competitive price. Together, we meet your schedules on time, 99% of the time.

Around the world, GrafTech works only with ocean carriers that have the specialized equipment required for secure transport of our electrodes. The shipping companies we choose provide frequent sailing schedules, multiple destinations, and effective customer service.

GrafTech customers are secure in the knowledge that UCAR® Graphite Electrodes will arrive when you want them. Around the world, GrafTech transportation services deliver.

For more information, be sure to look through our new Graphite Electrodes Brochure.

UCAR® Graphite Electrodes Come With A Big Advantage: World-Class Technical Service


GrafTech Helps You Increase Melt Shop Productivity and Reduce Costs

We demonstrate it to our customers every day. GrafTech fully understands the electric furnace steelmaking process and applies that understanding in helping customers optimize their melting

techservoperations. Using the latest analytical technologies, GrafTech focuses on the steelmaker’s ability to operate more efficiently and profitably.

Benefiting from more than a century of experience around the world, GrafTech has built a solid reputation for practical solutions. Our engineers and technicians work side-by-side with furnace operators making first-hand observations, recommending improvements and recording results.

Bringing State-of-the-Art, Real-Time Analysis to your Shop

  • Oxygen Usage
  • kWh/Ton
  • Electrode Consumption
  • Furnace Regulation
  • Optimum Power Profile
  • Power-On Time
  • Time Utilization
  • Maximum Productivity

Our exclusive analytical programs, combined with our recognized expertise in analysis, encompass the total arc furnace environment. This thorough furnace monitoring capability, whether in-shop or remotely from our technical facilities, allows us to help our customers (1) optimize power input to their furnaces, (2) reduce process variation, and (3) increase productivity. This analytical ability enables GrafTech professionals to define and completely understand the operating parameters of the electric arc furnace.

Only from such a comprehensive assessment can practical solutions be developed.

Our Proven Problem Solving Methodology

Our proven problem solving methodology covers the broad spectrum of electric furnace steelmaking: from furnace design criteria to graphite electrode applications; from charge to liquid steel.

Bringing Valuable, Customized Training Programs to your People

  • Global Steelmaking
  • Benchmarking Steelmaking
  • Technology-focused Seminars
  • New Furnace Start-up Seminars
  • Technology Leadership
  • Electrode Handling
  • Safety Programs

Just as we do in our manufacturing operations, GrafTech strives for continuous improvement in the steelmaker’s operations. We apply our extensive expertise in Total Quality Management systems to all analytical efforts. Taken as a whole, our capabilities, experience, and global presence enable you to learn state-of-the-art techniques from around the world.

Let us demonstrate our steelmaking expertise. For more information, be sure to look through our new Graphite Electrodes Brochure.

Put the GrafTech Technical Service Team to work for you now.



Innovation and Technology – The Foundation of Our Success

  • R&D scientists, applications & design engineering, customer technical service, business development, marketing & intellectual property functions all housed under one roof
  • Building on 128 years of carbon and graphite materials science expertise
  • More than 700 patents and patent pending applications
  • 16 R&D 100 Awards
  • Embracing the latest in innovation engineering methodology

The World’s Leading Electrode and Service Provider

  • Global Customer Technical Service Expertise
  • World Class Research & Development
  • Multiple Plant Sourcing Capability
  • Product Optimization & Testing Capability
  • Electrode Recovery Assistance
  • Electrode Inventory Management
  • World Class Safety Practices

For more information, be sure to look through our new Graphite Electrodes Brochure.

The UCAR® Arc Furnace Electrode Digest©

GrafTech proudly updates the classic melt-shop primer, The UCAR® Electric Arc Furnace Electrode Digest, with all new technically-advanced, world-class steelmaking techniques and issues. Twelve in-depth chapters covering The Evolution of Arc Furnaces, Furnace Regulation, Foamy Slag, Post Combustion, and more. This modern edition takes furnace operators and melt shop managers to the next level of educational excellence addressing the physics, chemistry, and engineering aspects of electric furnace fundamentals.

Distributed exclusively through GrafTech representatives. Available now exclusively on CD, contact your local representative for your copy today.

Optimization of Electrode Performance

Monitoring and analysis of factors affecting electrode performance

  • Handling Practices
  • Jointing Techniques
  • Time Utilization
  • Oxygen and Burners
  • Foaming Slag
  • Furnace Regulation
  • Power Program
  • Raw Materials

Training Programs

  • Hands on Electrode Training
  • Customized Audio/Visual Electrode Handling
  • EAF Benchmarking
  • EAF Productivity
  • Energy Utilization
  • Modes of Graphite Consumption
  • EAF Raw Materials
  • Ladle Furnace Operation
  • Electrical Principles
  • Arc Furnace Technology Programs
    • High Voltage/High Reactance
    • Furnaces
    • DC Furnaces
    • Ladle Furnaces
  • Alternative Iron Practices
  • Slag Practices
  • Metallurgy Practices
  • Inventory Management

Equipment Consultation

Our global presence gives us an independent overview of all EAF equipment and technology. We can help you in your new project planning and your new furnace start-up.


  • Equipment Selection
  • Productivity Planning and Capability
  • Design Layout and Vetting
  • Customized Training Seminars (On Site)
  • Electrode Handling Basics
  • Troubleshooting Assistance
  • Metering
  • Electrode Phase Rotation
  • Power Programs Regulation
  • Adjustments
  • Electrode Performance

Technical Literature

  • Papers Published by GrafTech
  • Papers Published by other experts
  • Customized Information Search
  • Arc Furnace Monitoring

Using the Arc Furnace Analyzer (PAFA) and other latest technology, arc furnace electrical operation can be analyzed and optimized.

  • Power Optimization
  • Unique DC EAF Expertise
  • Productivity Analysis
  • Power Curves (Circular Diagrams)
  • High-Speed Measurement and Fourier Analysis
  • Furnace Regulation Checks
  • Metering Verification
  • Short Circuit Test and Phase Balancing
  • Determination of Phase Sequence Line
  • Reactance Calculation
  • Short Circuit Reactance

EAF Steel Practices

Through our close and confidential relationship with customers operating more than 2000 electric arc furnaces in more than 80 countries, we have an unparalleled view of arc furnace performance.


  • Comparative analysis through benchmarking
  • Advice and Training on best practices

New Arc Furnace Technology

Through our extensive technical contact with the steelmaking community we are abreast of all the latest thinking on steel technology. Our own GrafTech experts can help in understanding the implication of these developments.

Arc Furnace Technology Seminars

We tailor seminars for customer groups focusing on subject areas of interest. This list is only a sampling of subjects we have addressed in the past:


  • EAF Benchmarking
  • AC/DC Furnace Comparisons
  • High Reactance Technology
  • Physics of Arcs
  • Current EAF Technologies
  • Electrode Consumption Model
  • Worldwide Scrap Trends

GrafTech Value Added Services

  • Global Presence
  • Largest Electrode Supplier Worldwide
  • Technology Leadership
  • Global Customer Technical Service
  • Multiple Plant Sourcing Capability
  • Active Member of Iron and Steelmaking Community

UCAR® graphite electrodes are covered by one or more of the following U.S. patents: US6440563; US6280663; US6803108. Other U.S. and foreign patents granted or pending.

The UCAR® ALX™ graphite electrodes are covered by one or more of the following U.S. and foreign patents: CN ZL200580020188.5; EP1813134; KR 10-1009569; KR 10-1049641; MX 260540; PL 210593; RU 2369047; US7230969; US7016394; US7301982; US 9313834. Other U.S. and foreign patents granted or pending.

UCAR® graphite electrodes may also be covered by one or more of the following patents:  European Patent No. CA 2401625; EP1261549; KR 802030; MX 248543 as well as EP 1993325 and EP 2373121

Customer Technical Services has obtained the following proprietary rights regarding their service offerings:  CA2392788; CA 2528151; EP 1327352; MX 229069; US 6804582; US 7386369

The ArchiTech® Furnace Monitoring System may be covered by one of more of the following patents:  EP 1817943; EP 2776770; EP2928268; US 7313160; US 7991039; US 9439247; D749621

Graphite Electrodes Overview