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The Blast Furnace

Iron and Steel


Iron usually occurs in the Earth's crust as an ore. The most common ore is haematite, which is iron oxide. This is a compound of iron combined with oxygen. In the blast furnace the oxygen is removed from the iron. The iron is reduced. Reducing means taking the oxygen away. Haematite is fed into the top of the furnace along with limestone (calcium carbonate) and coke (carbon). Hot air is 'blasted' through the base of the furnace and generates the high temperatures required in the furnace. Blast furnace reactions 1 The coke burns in the oxygen of the air to form carbon dioxide: carbon + oxygen carbon dioxide 2 The carbon dioxide reacts with more carbon to form carbon monoxide: carbon dioxide + carbon carbon monoxide 3 The carbon monoxide then reduces the iron oxide to produce iron: carbon monoxide + iron oxide iron + carbon dioxide In this last step the carbon monoxide is the reducing agent and is itself oxidised to carbon dioxide The iron is run off from the bottom of the blast furnace into moulds to form ingots of cast iron. Cast iron is very brittle since it contains 3-4% carbon and so it is converted to steel. Different types of steel are made by processing the iron to reduce the amount of carbon to around 1 % and then by adding small amounts of other elements.e.g Stainless steel contains added nickel and chromium. Scrap steel that is being recycled can also be added to the mixture Why is limestone needed? The iron still contains lots of impurities. The heat of the furnace changes the limestone into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide. Calcium carbonate (limestone) calcium oxide + carbon dioxide The calcium oxide then reacts with the silicon oxide impurities in the iron to produce calcium silicate: Calcium oxide + silicon oxide calcium silicate The calcium silicate (slag) is skimmed off the top of the molten iron. The slag is used for making roads.

The Blast Furnace


Iron and Steel
Iron usually occurs in the Earth's crust as an ore. The most common ore is haematite, which is iron oxide. This is a compound of iron combined with oxygen. In the blast furnace the oxygen is removed from the iron. The iron is reduced. Reducing means taking the oxygen away. Haematite is fed into the top of the furnace along with limestone (calcium carbonate) and coke (carbon). Hot air is 'blasted' through the base of the furnace and generates the high temperatures required in the furnace. Blast furnace reactions 1 The coke burns in the oxygen of the air to form carbon dioxide: carbon + oxygen carbon dioxide 2 The carbon dioxide reacts with more carbon to form carbon monoxide: carbon dioxide + carbon carbon monoxide 3 The carbon monoxide then reduces the iron oxide to produce iron: carbon monoxide + iron oxide iron + carbon dioxide In this last step the carbon monoxide is the reducing agent and is itself oxidised to carbon dioxide The iron is run off from the bottom of the blast furnace into moulds to form ingots of cast iron. Cast iron is very brittle since it contains 3-4% carbon and so it is converted to steel. Different types of steel are made by processing the iron to reduce the amount of carbon to around 1 % and then by adding small amounts of other elements.e.g Stainless steel contains added nickel and chromium. Scrap steel that is being recycled can also be added to the mixture Why is limestone needed? The iron still contains lots of impurities. The heat of the furnace changes the limestone into calcium oxide and carbon dioxide. Calcium carbonate (limestone) calcium oxide + carbon dioxide The calcium oxide then reacts with the silicon oxide impurities in the iron to produce calcium silicate: Calcium oxide + silicon oxide calcium silicate The calcium silicate (slag) is skimmed off the top of the molten iron. The slag is used for making roads.

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