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Steel

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Author Topic: Steel  (Read 547 times)
Victoria Liss
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« on: November 18, 2010, 01:22:35 pm »

Iron, like most metals, is found in the Earth's crust only in the form of an ore, i.e., combined with other elements such as oxygen or sulfur.[2] Typical iron-containing minerals include Fe2O3—the form of iron oxide found as the mineral hematite, and FeS2—pyrite (fool's gold).[3] Iron is extracted from ore by removing oxygen and combining the ore with a preferred chemical partner such as carbon. This process, known as smelting, was first applied to metals with lower melting points, such as tin, which melts at approximately 250 °C (482 °F) and copper, which melts at approximately 1,000 °C (1,830 °F). In comparison, cast iron melts at approximately 1,370 °C (2,500 °F). All of these temperatures could be reached with ancient methods that have been used since the Bronze Age. Since the oxidation rate itself increases rapidly beyond 800 °C, it is important that smelting take place in a low-oxygen environment. Unlike copper and tin, liquid iron dissolves carbon quite readily. Smelting results in an alloy (pig iron) containing too much carbon to be called steel.[4] The excess carbon and other impurities are removed in a subsequent step.

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