Revolutionizing Steelmaking

Dr. Herbert Trenkler ...

... became manager of VÖEST's steelworks in Linz, Austria, in 1948 and facilitated the inception of the LD converter. Primetals Technologies Austria originated from Voest-Alpine Stahl AG as VAI in 1988.


LD steelmaking forever changed the way in which steel is produced: the majority of the output of today's steel plants is based on the process also known as the "basic oxygen furnace" (BOF) production process. "LD" stands for "Linz-Donawitz," and it is the two cities that make up this name where the groundbreaking innovation was developed. While several people were instrumental in bringing LD steelmaking to life, Dr. Herbert Trenkler was clearly one of the most relevant.

Dr. Trenkler first got involved with "oxygen metallurgy," as it was then called, in the late 1930s. At the time, he was working as a steel mill manager's first assistant at Gutenhoffnungshütte AG in Neuoberhausen, Germany. As Trenkler progressed within the steel industry, he continued his research into oxygen blow-in based steelmaking. In March 1948, he became manager of VÖEST's steel plant in Linz, Austria. In this role, he encouraged his team to invest significant resources into the research of oxygen-converter technology. Trenkler was determined to bring the new process to fruition and to implement it in his steel mill at full production scale. His efforts finally paid off when in November 1952 the first-ever LD steelworks went into operation. The second one was started up only a few months later in Donawitz, Austria. From there, LD steelmaking went on to become the world-renowned production method that it is today—and many more innovations from the same location in Linz were to follow.