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An ironworks or iron works is an industrial plant where iron is smelted and where heavy iron and steel products are made. The term is both singular and plural, i.e. the singular of ironworks is ironworks.
Ironworks succeed bloomeries when blast furnaces replaced former methods. An integrated ironworks in the 19th century usually included one or more blast furnaces and a number of puddling furnaces or a foundry with or without other kinds of ironworks. After the invention of the Bessemer process, converters became widespread, and the appellation steelworks replaced ironworks.
The processes carried at ironworks are usually described as ferrous metallurgy, but the term siderurgy is also occasionally used. This is derived from the Greek words sideros - iron and ergon or ergos - work. This is an unusual term in English, and it is best regarded as an anglicisation of a term used in French, Spanish, and other Romance languages.
Ironworks is used as an omnibus term covering works undertaking one or more iron-producing processes.Such processes or species of ironworks where they were undertaken include the following:
From the 1850s, pig iron might be partly decarburised to produce mild steel using one of the following:
The mills operating converters of any type are better called steelworks, ironworks referring to former processes, like puddling.
After bar iron had been produced in a finery forge or in the forge train of a rolling mill, it might undergo further processes in one of the following:
Most of these processes did not produce finished goods. Further processes were often manual, including
In the context of the iron industry, the term manufacture is best reserved for this final stage.
The notable ironworks of the world are described here by country. See above for the largest producers and the notable ironworks in the alphabetical order.
The largest Japanese steel companies' main works are as follows:
Pig iron is an intermediate product of the iron industry, also known as crude iron, which is obtained by smelting iron ore in a blast furnace. Pig iron has a very high carbon content, typically 3.8–4.7%, along with silica and other constituents of dross, which makes it very brittle and not useful directly as a material except for limited applications.
Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content in contrast to cast iron. It is a semi-fused mass of iron with fibrous slag inclusions, which gives it a "grain" resembling wood that is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile, corrosion-resistant and easily welded.
Steelmaking is the process of producing steel from iron ore and/or scrap. In steelmaking, impurities such as nitrogen, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur and excess carbon are removed from the sourced iron, and alloying elements such as manganese, nickel, chromium, carbon and vanadium are added to produce different grades of steel. Limiting dissolved gases such as nitrogen and oxygen and entrained impurities in the steel is also important to ensure the quality of the products cast from the liquid steel.
A steel mill or steelworks is an industrial plant for the manufacture of steel. It may be an integrated steel works carrying out all steps of steelmaking from smelting iron ore to rolled product, but may also describe plants where steel semi-finished casting products are made, from molten pig iron or from scrap.
Open hearth furnaces are one of a number of kinds of furnace where excess carbon and other impurities are burnt out of pig iron to produce steel. Since steel is difficult to manufacture due to its high melting point, normal fuels and furnaces were insufficient and the open hearth furnace was developed to overcome this difficulty. Compared to Bessemer steel, which it displaced, its main advantages were that it did not expose the steel to excessive nitrogen, was easier to control, and it permitted the melting and refining of large amounts of scrap iron and steel.
In American Colonial history, the Iron Act, short-titled the Importation, etc. Act 1750, was one of the legislative measures introduced by the British Parliament, within its system of Trade and Navigation Acts. The Act sought to increase the importation of pig and bar iron from its American colonies and to prevent the building of iron-related production facilities within these colonies, particularly in North America where these raw materials were identified. The dual purpose of the act was to increase manufacturing capacity within Great Britain itself, and to limit potential competition from the colonies possessing the raw materials.
Puddling is a step in the manufacture of high-grade iron in a crucible or furnace. Known by the 1st century AD in the Han Dynasty of ancient China, it was advanced in Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution. There molten pig iron in a reverberatory furnace was stirred with consumable rods resulting in a less brittle, more purified steel. It was one of the most important processes of making the first appreciable volumes of valuable and useful bar iron. Eventually, the furnace would be used to make small quantities of specialty steels.
A finery forge is a forge used to produce wrought iron from pig iron by decarburization. The process involved liquifying cast iron in a fining hearth and removing carbon from the molten cast iron through oxidation. Finery forges were used as early as 3rd century BC, based on archaeological evidence found at a site in Tieshengguo, China. The finery forge process was replaced by the puddling process and the roller mill, both developed by Henry Cort in 1783-4, but not becoming widespread until after 1800.
JFE Steel is the second largest Japanese steel manufacturer. The company was created in 2002 through the merger of the steel manufacturing business of Kawasaki Steel and NKK. It is owned by JFE Holdings, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and alloys. It began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel. It is not known when or where the smelting of iron from ores began, but by the end of the 2nd millennium BC iron was being produced from iron ores from at least Greece to India, and more controversially Sub-Saharan Africa. The use of wrought iron was known by the 1st millennium BC, and its spread marked the Iron Age. During the medieval period, means were found in Europe of producing wrought iron from cast iron using finery forges. For all these processes, charcoal was required as fuel.
Cornwall Iron Furnace is a designated National Historic Landmark that is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Cornwall, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania in the United States. The furnace was a leading Pennsylvania iron producer from 1742 until it was shut down in 1883. The furnaces, support buildings and surrounding community have been preserved as a historical site and museum, providing a glimpse into Lebanon County's industrial past. The site is the only intact charcoal-burning iron blast furnace in its original plantation in the western hemisphere. Established by Peter Grubb in 1742, Cornwall Furnace was operated during the Revolution by his sons Curtis and Peter Jr. who were major arms providers to George Washington. Robert Coleman acquired Cornwall Furnace after the Revolution and became Pennsylvania's first millionaire. Ownership of the furnace and its surroundings was transferred to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1932.
Oregrounds iron was a grade of iron that was regarded as the best grade available in 18th century England. The term was derived from the small Swedish city of Öregrund, the port from which the bar iron was shipped. The process to create it is known as the Walloon method.
The Lancashire hearth was used to fine pig iron, removing carbon to produce wrought iron.
Ebbw Vale Steelworks was an integrated steel mill located in Ebbw Vale, South Wales. Developed from 1790, by the late 1930s it had become the largest steel mill in Europe. Nationalized after World War II, as the steel industry changed to bulk handling, iron and steel making was ceased in the 1970s, as the site was redeveloped as a specialised tinplate works. Closed by Corus in 2002, the site is being redeveloped in a joint-partnership between Blaenau Gwent Council and the Welsh Government.
The Fitzroy Iron Works at Mittagong, New South Wales, was the first commercial iron smelting works in Australia. It first operated in 1848.
The Yahata Steel Works is a steel mill in Kitakyūshū, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Imperial Steel Works was established in 1896 to meet increasing demand from the nation's burgeoning shipbuilding, railway, construction, and armaments industries. The site chosen was the former town of Yahata, now merged into Kitakyūshū, near coal mines and with easy access to the sea.
Nippon Steel Corporation, was formed in 2012 with the merger of the original Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal. The original Nippon Steel Corporation was formed in 1970 with the merger of Fuji Iron & Steel and Yawata Iron & Steel. Nippon Steel Corporation is the world's third largest steel producer by volume as of 2017.
Kakogawa Steel Works is Kobe Steel, Ltd.'s ironworks in Kakogawa, Hyogo, Japan, established in 1969. It is responsible for about 80 percent of the company's iron and steel production.
Kimitsu Steel Works is an ironworks in Kimitsu, Chiba, Japan, established in 1965 by Nippon Steel Corporation (新日本製鐵), part of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation after its 2012 merger with Sumitomo Metal Industries.
Fuji Iron & Steel was a major Japanese steel-producing company that existed from 1950 to 1970.
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