who invented steel

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.

ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1830’s – Farming in America increasingly employs steel machinery for its strength and ability to cut through dense, sticky soil as migration drew to the west (see – John Deere). 20th century – World wars in the first half of the 20th century means steel production increased evermore. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, The Bessemer Process and Modern Steelmaking, What You Should Know About Metallurgical Coal, Properties and Composition of Type 201 Stainless Steel, The Properties, Production, and Applications of Tin, The Properties and Applications of Platinum, An Overview of Commercial Lithium Production, Deforestation Facts, Causes, Effects, and What You Can Do, How Air, Water, and Plastic Pollution Affect the Economy, An Introduction to Cryogenic Hardening of Metal, Trade Wars and their Effect on the Economy and You, A Brief History of Lead Properties, Uses and Characteristics. In 1876 Welshman Sidney Gilchrist Thomas came up with the solution by adding a chemically basic flux, limestone, to the Bessemer process. Paul Heroult's electric arc furnace (EAF) was designed to pass an electric current through charged material, resulting in exothermic oxidation and temperatures up to 3272°F (1800°C), more than sufficient to heat steel production. These developments have continued ever since, with steel becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the modern world. Iron billets were heated with charcoal in sealed clay pots that were placed in large bottle-shaped kilns holding about 10 to 14 tons of metal and about 2 tons of charcoal. The carbon contents of the early irons ranged from very low (0.07 percent) to high (0.8 percent), the latter constituting a genuine steel. The open-hearth process produced steel from pig iron in large shallow furnaces. Initially used for specialty steels, EAFs grew in use and, by World War II, were being used for the manufacturing of steel alloys. However, by the beginning of the 15th century, waterpower was used to blow air into bloomery furnaces; as a consequence, the temperature in the furnace increased to above 1,200° C (2,200° F), so that, instead of forming a solid bloom of iron, a liquid was produced rich in carbon—i.e., cast iron.

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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