Iron is one of the widely used and largely available materials on earth. There are a lot of ways in which iron is used in our everyday life. It is used extensively for various purposes in both the domestic and industrial sectors. However, iron cannot be used in the raw form, the way in which it is extracted from the earth. The purest form of iron is not malleable enough to be pressed, hammered and processed. Thereby iron ore has to go through a lot of stages. In such process, the iron ore is purified and made fit for usage by adding another element in the appropriate ratio.
Most of the metals that we use today are iron in their raw form. They are processed, and at different degrees, they turn into different metals. Since it is one of the hardest materials available in large quantities, they are used in large scale. Ancient Egyptians were the first people to use iron. Carbon is one of the most common elements that is combined with iron to make it a stronger metal.
Having gained the basic idea of how iron works as a metal, let’s get to know how they are industrially processed:
To make things more vivid let us start from the scratch.
1. Extraction and Purification:
Before processing the metal, there are two stages, the extraction, and purification. In the extraction process that the iron ore is extracted through mining using heavy that could penetrate the surface of the earth and extract the iron ore. The next stage id refining the iron ore that is extracted in most of the cases if the iron ore that is extracted is of good quality then the ore shall contain about 60% of useable iron. Different methods are available under the refining process such as magnetic separation, pelletizing, crushing and washing.
2. Manufacturing process:
- Charging the blast furnace:
As it is stated earlier, the iron ore has to go with another ore to make sure that is malleable and strong enough to be processed further. This can be done only by heating up the metals and processing them through the furnace machine. This is the basic process in any iron industry. The iron ore inside the furnace reacts with the carbon monoxide that is present inside, and the resultant products are pure iron and carbon dioxide.
- Removal of slag:
Once carbon reacts with iron the extract reaches the bottom of the furnace. The limestone that is present separates the impurities which are called slag. Since this slag is light-weighted, they remain at the surface level while the pure iron lies in the bottom level. Then the slag is separated and disposed of.
- Maintaining the blast furnace:
Once this process is over the pure iron that remains in the bottom of the furnace is removed and stored appropriately. It is very important that the furnace is taken proper care of. Samples are taken from the extracted iron and tested to ensure its strength and purity.
Then the purified iron is stored and processed again by reheating it according to the desired shape and structure.