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The History of Steel

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In this presentation, Aerocom Metals look at the history of steel production, with particular reference to the UK.

In this presentation, Aerocom Metals look at the history of steel production, with particular reference to the UK.

Published in Engineering , Business
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  • 1. AEROCOM METALS A HISTORY OF STEEL 02476 645 551 www.aomerocmetals.co.uk
  • 2. The History of Steel  Steel is an iron alloy, with carbon being the most commonly used alloying element.  The carbon is important within the structure as without it the pure iron metal can become soft, ductile and weak.
  • 3. The Iron Age  The development of steel can be traced back to the beginning of the Iron Age, the previous popular metal was bronze but iron was proven to the harder and stronger and soon replaced bronze as the favoured metal, particularly in the production of weaponry.  However, iron was still untrustworthy as the quality of the product made very much depended on the ores that were available.
  • 4. 17th Century  In the 17th century iron’s properties were well understood but as urbanisation grew in Europe there was a larger and more desperate need for a more versatile structural metal.
  • 5. 19th Century  Iron was being used increasingly for railroad development in the 19th century, however there was still a need for a more versatile metal and the growing market provided an incentive to find a solution to the problems of iron- namely its brittleness and inefficiencies.  Steel was still unproven as a structural metal and the production for it was slow and expensive.
  • 6. 1865 Developments  In 1856 Henry Bessemer designed an effective way to introduce oxygen to molten iron to reduce the carbon content within the alloy. This is known as the Bessemer Process.  Henry Bessemer used a pear shaped receptacle (the converter) where iron can be heated whilst oxygen is blown through the molten metal.  As it is blown through it reacts with the carbon, releasing carbon dioxide and producing more pure iron.
  • 7. 1865 Developments  The process was much faster and cheaper than any used before it but the concept was far too effective and left too much oxygen in the final product.  This meant that Bessemer had to repay his investors and continue his research into perfecting the process.
  • 8. Mushet & Bessemer  Robert Mushet began testing a compound of carbon iron and manganese known as speigeleisen.  The manganese was known to remove oxygen if added in the right quantities so Bessemer began adding it to his process and it worked really well.  However, the manganese couldn’t remove the phosphorus which is the impurity that makes steel brittle so the alloy was far from perfect.
  • 9. Mushet & Bessemer  Robert Mushet began testing a compound of carbon iron and manganese known as speigeleisen.  The manganese was known to remove oxygen if added in the right quantities so Bessemer began adding it to his process and it worked really well.  However, the manganese couldn’t remove the phosphorus which is the impurity that makes steel brittle so the alloy was far from perfect.
  • 10. 1876 Innovation  In 1876 a Welshman named Sidney Gilchrist Thomas decided to add limestone, a chemically basic flux, to the Bessemer process.  The limestone solved the phosphorus problem by drawing it away from the pig iron into the slag, which allows the creator to remove the element.  This realisation meant that iron ore could come from anywhere in the world, which caused steel production costs to drop.
  • 11. Investment Opportunities  The fresh revolution in process in the steel industry meant that companies were able to provide low cost, high quality material.  This made it a great investment opportunity and many took advantage. Among those investors were Charles Schwabe and Andrew Carnegie who made billions of pounds in the steel industry.  Carnegie US Steel Corporation was founded in 1901.
  • 12. Investment Opportunities  Soon after, a new development was made that heavily influenced the steel industry. This was Paul Heroult’s EAF (Electric Aric Furnace).  The EAF was created to pass an electric current through material that had been charged. This resulted in exothermic oxidation that held temperature of up to 18000 degrees celcius which was more than hot enough to heat steel production.
  • 13. Developments  This development became especially popular and by the Second World War it was being used for manufacturing steel alloys.  It had a lower investment cost which meant that it could compete with larger steel companies.  EAF can produce steel from scrap feed which means that less energy is needed for production.
  • 14. The Present Method  Nowadays the majority of steel production completed globally, which is approximately 66%, is produced in basic oxygen facilities.  In the 1960s a method was developed that allowed the separation of oxygen and nitrogen on a large scale which increased motivation into the advancement of basic oxygen furnaces.
  • 15. The Present Method  The concept of basic oxygen furnaces is simple and similar to Bessemer’s values. You blow oxygen into huge amounts of molten iron and scrap steel which can create a change far quicker than the open hearth methods.  The costs of oxygen steelmaking methods is such that open hearth factories were barely a competitor and soon began closing in the later 1960s with the last facility closing in 2001 in China.
  • 16. Aerocom Metals Based in Coventry, England, Aerocom Metals supply a range of high-strength and lightweight metals to the Aerospace and Motorsports industries. Website: http://aerocommetals.co.uk/ Phone: +44 (0)2476 645 551 Email: sales@aerocommetals.co.uk