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Henry Bessemer Steel Making Process

[Summary]A Brief History of Iron and Steel Manufacture A Brief History of Iron and Steel Production Professor Joseph S. Spoerl Saint Anselm College The production of iron by humans began probably sometime after 2000 BCE in south-west or south-central Asia, pe

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A Brief History of Iron and Steel Manufacture

A Brief History of Iron and Steel Production

Professor Joseph S. Spoerl

Saint Anselm College

The production of iron by humans began probably sometime after 2000 BCE in south-west or south-central Asia, perhaps in the Caucasus region. Thus began the Iron Age, when iron replaced bronze in implements and weapons. This shift occurred because iron, when alloyed with a bit of carbon, is harder, more durable, and holds a sharper edge than bronze. For over three thousand years, until replaced by steel after CE 1870, iron formed the material basis of human civilization in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

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Making the Modern World

The earliest evidence of steel production is from sub-Saharan Africa in the first millennium BC. The Haya people, from an area now in north western Tanzania, developed a technology for producing high-grade carbon steel that was in use until the 1950s.

The Hayas used a cone-shaped clay kiln to heat the iron ore, which was pre-roasted to increase its carbon content. Air was pumped into the base of the kiln, passing through the furnace through clay pipes, before arriving inside the kiln. This preheated air allowed very high temperatures to be achieved inside the kiln, improving fuel efficiency as well as the quality of the iron.

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