Excluding the Eastern-bloc countries, for which employment data are not available, some 1.7 million people were employed in 1987 in producing 430 million tons of steel. Bessemer ultimately had to repay his investors until he could find a method to increase the carbon content and remove the unwanted oxygen. For these reasons, production via EAFs has been steadily increasing for over 50 years and now accounts for about 33% of global steel production. When the carbon content of steel is above 0.3 percent, the material will become very hard and brittle if it is quenched in water from a temperature of about 850° to 900° C (1,550° to 1,650° F). About the beginning of the 18th century, coke produced from coal began to replace charcoal as the fuel for the blast furnace; as a result, cast iron became cheaper and even more widely used as an engineering material. The iron was produced in small shaft furnaces as solid lumps, called blooms, and these were then hot forged into bars of wrought iron, a malleable material containing bits of slag and charcoal. The higher carbon content made blister steel much more workable than pig iron, allowing it to be pressed or rolled.
One problem remained. Cast iron is strong but suffers from brittleness due to its carbon content, making it less than ideal for working and shaping.
The development of steel can be traced back 4000 years to the beginning of the Iron Age. Just after the turn of the century, another development occurred that would have a strong influence on the evolution of steel production. The large, central and adjoining smaller ingots resembled a sow and suckling piglets. Iron production began in Anatolia about 2000 bc, and the Iron Age was well established by 1000 bc. 6th century BC – Wootz steel was born in ancient India and can be traced as far back as the 6th century BC. Consequently, only phosphorus-free ore from Sweden and Wales could be used. 1950s-60s – Significant developments made in steel-making processes which saw production shift from a focus on weapons and infrastructure to consumer goods and transport amongst many other things.
Regenerative furnaces later used exhaust gasses from the furnace to maintain high temperatures in the brick chambers below.
1794 – Welsh inventor Phillip Vaughn patents the design for the ballbearing to support the axle of a carriage.
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