Nucor Steel
Nucor's Crawfordsville, Ind. steel mill. In this facility, scrap metal—old automobiles, appliances and construction parts—is melted, cast into slabs, and eventually rolled into large toilet paper-shaped coils of finished steel. The steel will soon be made into anything from industrial oil pipes to cars to buildings, Crawfordsville, Ind. on Aug. 25, 2014.Ryan Lowry for TIME
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor Steel
Nucor's Crawfordsville, Ind. steel mill. In this facility, scrap metal—old automobiles, appliances and construction part
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Ryan Lowry for TIME
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Go Inside an American Steel Mill

Cheap natural gas is giving manufacturer Nucor a shot at reversing the long decline in American steelmaking

On the day after christmas 2013, John Ferriola received a FedEx package containing a dozen metal pellets, each about the size of a blueberry and the color of charcoal. They had been refined with natural gas at a temperature one fifth that of the surface of the sun. To most, the contents of the box would have looked like a heap of rubbish. To Ferriola, CEO of Nucor Corp., the tiny pellets represent a huge bet for the biggest steelmaker left in the U.S.

The technology may also help rekindle American steel manufacturing. Nearly a third of U.S. steelmaking jobs have disappeared over the past 15 years as the industry has boomed in China and other emerging economies. The lone …

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