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Steel is an alloy consisting mostly of iron, with a carbon content between 0.02% and 1.7 or 2.04% by weight (C:1000–10,8.

67Fe), depending on grade. Carbon is the most cost-effective alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used such as manganese and tungsten.[1] Carbon and other elements act as a hardening agent, preventing dislocations in the iron atom crystal lattice from sliding past one another. Varying the amount of alloying elements and form of their presence in the steel (solute elements, precipitated phase) controls qualities such as the hardness, ductility, and tensile strength of the resulting steel. Steel with increased carbon content can be made harder and stronger than iron, but is also more brittle. The maximum solubility of carbon in iron (in austenite region) is 2.14% by weight, occurring at 1149 °C; higher concentrations of carbon or lower temperatures will produce cementite. Alloys with higher carbon content than this are known as cast iron because of their lower melting point.[1] Steel is also to be distinguished from wrought iron containing only a very small amount of other elements, but containing 1–3% by weight of slag in the form of particles elongated in one direction, giving the iron a characteristic grain. It is more rustresistant than steel and welds more easily. It is common today to talk about 'the iron and steel industry' as if it were a single entity, but historically they were separate products. Though steel had been produced by various inefficient methods long before the Renaissance, its use became more common after more efficient production methods were devised in the 17th century. With the invention of the Bessemer process in the mid-19th century, steel became a relatively inexpensive mass-produced good. Further refinements in the process, such as basic oxygen steelmaking, further lowered the cost of production while increasing the quality of the metal. Today, steel is one of the most common materials in the world and is a major component in buildings, tools, automobiles, and appliances. Modern steel is generally identified by various grades of steel defined by various standards organizations.

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1 Material properties 2 History of steelmaking o 2.1 Ancient steel o 2.2 Early modern steel  2.2.1 Blister steel  2.2.2 Crucible steel o 2.3 Modern steelmaking

• • • • • • • • • 3 Steel industry 4 Recycling 5 Contemporary steel 6 Modern production methods 7 Uses of steel o 7.1% carbon) Stainless steel (alloy with chromium) HSLA steel (high strength low alloy) Tool steel (very hard.2.3 Stainless steel 8 See also 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links Material properties v•d•e Iron alloy phases Austenite (γ-iron.2 Since 1850  7.2. This process. heat-treated) Other Iron-based materials Cast iron (>2.1 Long steel  7.[3] Iron is extracted from ore by removing the oxygen by combining it with a preferred chemical partner such as carbon. was first applied to metals with lower .1 Historically o 7. is not usually found in the Earth's crust in an elemental state.3% carbon) Ferrite (α-iron.cementite eutectic. 4. like most metals. and FeS2—pyrite (fool's gold).2. soft) Pearlite (88% ferrite.1% carbon) Wrought iron (almost no carbon) Ductile iron Iron. 12% cementite) Spheroidite Types of Steel Plain-carbon steel (up to 2. δ-iron. known as smelting.2 Flat carbon steel  7. Fe3C) Ledeburite (ferrite . Typical iron-containing minerals include Fe2O3— the form of iron oxide found as the mineral hematite. hard) Bainite Martensite Cementite (iron carbide.[2] Iron can be found in the crust only in combination with oxygen or sulfur.

which is similarly soft and metallic but can dissolve considerably more carbon (as much as 2. mixtures of carbon and iron can form into a number of different structures.[4] Even in the narrow range of concentrations that make up steel. the most stable form of iron is the body-centered cubic (BCC) structure ferrite or α-iron. One way for carbon to leave the austenite is for cementite to precipitate out of the mix. leaving behind iron that is pure enough to take the form of ferrite. it is important that smelting take place in a low-oxygen environment.03 wt% carbon at 1154 °C). At room temperature.4 wt% of carbon (C:50Fe) is needed in order to form martensite. while tin melts around 250 °C.021 wt% at 910 °C). it requires extremely little thermal activation energy to form. A minimum of 0. resulting in an excess of carbon. the carbon is "frozen" in place when the cell structure changes from FCC to BCC. Unlike copper and tin. Cementite is a stoichiometric phase with the chemical formula of Fe3C.[5] As carbon-rich austenite cools.melting points. Cast iron—iron alloyed with greater than 1. with very different properties. Copper melts at just over 1000 °C. called austenite or γ-iron. Self-reinforcing patterns often emerge during this process.7% carbon— melts at around 1370 °C. a chemically metastable substance with about four to five times the strength of ferrite. understanding these is essential to making quality steel. liquid iron dissolves carbon quite readily.33Fe) due to its pearl-like appearance. so that smelting results in an alloy containing too much carbon to be called steel. or the similar but less beautiful bainite. then quenching the hot metal in water or oil. Above 910 °C ferrite undergoes a phase transition from body-centered cubic to a face-centered cubic (FCC) structure. showing the conditions necessary to form different phases. The carbon atoms are much too large to fit in the interstitial vacancies and thus distort the cell structure into a bodycentered tetragonal (BCT) structure. Iron-carbon phase diagram. the mixture attempts to revert to the ferrite phase. Perhaps the most important allotrope is martensite. resulting in a cementite-ferrite mixture. As such. When the austenite is quenched to form martensite. All of these temperatures could be reached with ancient methods that have been used for at least 6000 years (since the Bronze Age). Since the oxidation rate itself increases rapidly beyond 800 °C. leading to a patterned layering known as pearlite (Fe3C:6. cooling it so rapidly that the transformation to ferrite or pearlite does . a fairly soft metallic material that can dissolve only a small concentration of carbon (no more than 0. Cementite forms in regions of higher carbon content while other areas revert to ferrite around it. The heat treatment process for most steels involves heating the alloy until austenite forms. Martensite and austenite have an identical chemical composition.

At this point. at the very least. these internal stresses can cause a part to shatter as it cools. so these commonly found elements must be removed from the ore during processing. this process is known as tempering. To become steel. expansion occurs. by contrast. occurs almost immediately. so that the transformation between them results in a change of volume. The transformation into martensite. they cause internal work hardening and other microscopic imperfections.[7] Other materials are often added to the iron-carbon mixture to tailor the resulting properties. If quenching is done improperly. On the other hand sulfur. chromium increases the hardness and melting temperature. It is common for quench cracks to form when water quenched. Often. Large amounts of chromium and nickel (often 18% and 8%. producing a more ductile and fracture-resistant metal. the result is an extremely hard but very brittle material. respectively) are added to stainless steel so that a hard oxide forms on the metal surface to inhibit corrosion.not have time to take place. Internal stresses from this expansion generally take the form of compression on the crystals of martensite and tension on the remaining ferrite. due to a lower activation energy. Tungsten interferes with the formation of cementite. steel undergoes further heat treatment at a lower temperature to destroy some of the martensite (by allowing enough time for cementite. if the carbon content is high enough to produce a significant concentration of martensite. with a fair amount of shear on both constituents. nitrogen.[6] Iron ore pellets for the production of steel.[8] When iron is smelted from its ore by commercial processes. which forms tempered steel. it contains more carbon than is desirable. In this case. it must be melted and . resulting in high speed steel. Martensite has a lower density than austenite. to form) and help settle the internal stresses and defects. Because time is so critical to the end result. allowing martensite to form with slower quench rates. This softens the steel. etc. and phosphorus make steel more brittle. although they may not always be visible. and vanadium also increases the hardness while reducing the effects of metal fatigue. Nickel and manganese in steel add to its tensile strength and make austenite more chemically stable..

gaining ultimate product of a carbon intermediate—steel—by the 1st century CE. In modern steelmaking these processes are often combined. and may have been produced by managing the bloomery so that the bloom contained carbon. with ore going in one end of the assembly line and finished steel coming out the other. an idea imported from India to China by the 5th century CE. sheet. wootz is famous for its durability and ability to hold an edge. This early steelmaking method employed the use of a wind furnace. the Chinese had also adopted the production methods of creating Wootz steel. at which point other elements can be added. they were probably produced more by chance than by design.[13] Wootz steel was produced in India and Sri Lanka from around 300 BCE. dating back to 1400 BCE. Once this liquid is cast into ingots. These can be streamlined by a deft control of the interaction between work hardening and tempering. and to produce shapes such as plate.[10] In the 4th century BCE steel weapons like the Falcata were produced in the Iberian peninsula.[11][12] Along with their original methods of forging steel. It was essentially a complicated alloy with iron as its main component.[15] Crucible steel was produced in Merv by 9th to 10th century CE. which might explain some of its legendary qualities.[9] Some of the first steel comes from East Africa. It was originally created from a number of different materials including various trace elements. It is then heat-treated to produce a desirable crystal structure.reprocessed to remove the correct amount of carbon.[16] Early modern steel . In the 11th century. Recent studies have suggested that carbon nanotubes were included in its structure.[14] Also known as Damascus steel. there is evidence of the production of steel in Song China using two techniques: a "berganesque" method that produced inferior. and often "cold worked" to produce the final shape. though given the technology available at that time. it usually must be "worked" at high temperature to remove any cracks or poorly mixed regions from the solidification process. inhomogeneous steel and a precursor to the modern Bessemer process that utilized partial decarbonization via repeated forging under a cold blast. The Chinese of the Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE) created steel by melting together wrought iron with cast iron. etc. History of steelmaking Steel was known in antiquity. blown by the monsoon winds. wire.

The early modern crucible steel industry resulted from the invention of Benjamin Huntsman in the 1740s. During the 17th century it was realised that the best steel came from oregrounds iron from a region of Sweden. It was probably produced by Sir Basil Brooke at Coalbrookdale during the 1610s. and cast (usually) into ingots. produced by the cementation process was first made in Italy in the early 17th century CE and soon after introduced to England. Most previous furnaces could not reach high enough temperatures to melt the steel.[18] [edit] Modern steelmaking . [edit] Blister steel Main article: Cementation process Blister steel. The raw material for this was bars of wrought iron. almost as long as the process was used.A Bessemer converter in Sheffield. This was still the usual raw material in the 19th century.[17][18] [edit] Crucible steel Main article: Crucible steel Crucible steel is steel that has been melted in a crucible rather than being forged. Blister steel (made as above) was melted in a crucible in a furnace. with the result that it is more homogeneous. north of Stockholm. England.

[18] These were rendered obsolete by the Linz-Donawitz process of basic oxygen steelmaking. lining the converter with a basic material to remove phosphorus.A Siemens-Martin steel oven from the Brandenburg Museum of Industry. and other oxygen steelmaking processes. which like the Gilchrist-Thomas process complemented.[20] [edit] Steel industry Tata Steel plant in the United Kingdom. This enabled steel to be produced in large quantities cheaply. . the steel industry is often considered to be an indicative for economic prowess. so that mild steel is now used for most purposes for which wrought iron was formerly used. The modern era in steelmaking began with the introduction of Henry Bessemer's Bessemer process in the late 1850s. Another was the Siemens-Martin process of open hearth steelmaking. See also History of the modern steel industry. The Gilchrist-Thomas process (or basic Bessemer process) was an improvement to the Bessemer process. rather than replaced. developed in the 1950s.[19] This was only the first of a number of methods of steel production. the original Bessemer process. Steel output in 2005 Because of the critical role played by steel in infrastructural and overall economic development.

The steel industry has been actively recycling for more than 150 years. 97. 630 kilograms of coal.[24] Other steel construction elements such as reinforcement bars are recycled at a rate of about 65%. several Indian[21] and Chinese steel firms have rose to prominence like Tata Steel (which bought Corus Group in 2007). which is enough to power eighteen million homes for one year. Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation and Shagang Group. Indeed. See also: List of steel producers and Global steel industry trends [edit] Recycling Steel is the most widely recycled material in North America. about three quarters of the steel produced annually has been recycled. and 55 kilograms of limestone. waiting to be recycled. Arcelor-Mittal is however the world's largest steel producer. It is cheaper to recycle steel than to mine iron ore and manipulate it through the production process to form 'new' steel. world steel demand increased by 6%. China was the top producer of steel with about one-third world share followed by Japan. and has drastically reduced energy and material requirements than refinement from iron ore.[22] A pile of steel scrap in Brussels. Steel does not lose any of its inherent physical properties during the recycling process.[22] Recycling one ton of steel saves 1. Since 2000. in large part because it is economically advantageous to do so.The economic boom in China and India has caused a massive increase in the demand for steel in recent years. The British Geological Survey reports that in 2005. the numbers are much higher for certain types of products. The energy saved by recycling reduces the annual energy consumption of the industry by about 75%. in both 2004 and 2005. However.[23] 76 million tons of steel were recycled in 2005. For example. In recent years. structural steel typically contains around .5% of structural steel beams and plates were recycled.100 kilograms of iron ore. Between 2000 and 2005. Russia and the USA.

[25] Low alloy steel is alloyed with other elements. there is often very little waste produced during construction. in amounts of up to 10% by weight to improve the hardenability of thick sections. usually molybdenum.[28] Transformation Induced Plasticity (TRIP) steel . accounts for 90% of steel production. which weather by acquiring a stable. Because steel beams are manufactured to standardized dimensions.95% recycled steel content. rusted surface. and debris from demolished buildings. For a typical 2000-square-foot two-story house. A typical appliance is about 65% steel by weight and automobiles are about 66% steel and iron. while a comparable wooden frame house may require as many as 40– 50 trees. to resist corrosion (rust). which is heat treated to contain both a ferrite and martensic microstructure for extra strength.[22] Global demand for steel continues to grow. derived from raw materials.[1] Tool steel is generally used in axes.[1] Stainless steels and surgical stainless steels contain a minimum of 10% chromium. While some recycling takes place through the integrated steel mills and the basic oxygen process. while others are nonmagnetic.[26] Some more modern steels include tool steels. most of the recycled steel is melted electrically. and so can be used un-painted. long-lasting cutting edge. Some stainless steels are magnetic. and though there are large amounts of steel existing. or nickel. Commonly recycled steel products include cans. Other special-purpose alloys include weathering steels such as Cor-ten. [1] High strength low alloy steel has small additions (usually < 2% by weight) of other elements. and other devices that need a sharp. either using an electric arc furnace (for production of lowcarbon steel) or an induction furnace (for production of some highlyalloyed ferrous products). and any waste that is produced may be recycled. a steel frame is equivalent to about six recycled cars. to provide additional strength for a modest price increase. [edit] Contemporary steel Modern steels are made with varying combinations of alloy metals to fulfill many purposes.5% manganese. such as dual-phase steel. manganese. appliances. whereas lighter gauge.[27] Many other high-strength alloys exist. As such. chromium. flat rolled steel contains about 30% reused material. much of it is actively in use. which are alloyed with large amounts of tungsten and cobalt or other elements to maximize solution hardening. This also allows the use of precipitation hardening and improves the alloy's temperature resistance. recycled steel must be augmented by some first-use metal. often combined with nickel. typically 1. drills. automobiles. composed simply of iron and carbon.[8] Carbon steel.

involves special alloying and heat treatments to stabilize amounts of austentite at room temperature in normally austentite-free low-alloy ferritic steels. [34] The American Society for Testing and Materials has a separate set of standards. By applying strain to the metal. the superalloys.[29] Maraging steel is alloyed with nickel and other elements.[35] Though not an alloy. This creates a very strong but still malleable metal. Hadfield steel (after Sir Robert Hadfield) or manganese steel contains 12–14% manganese which when abraded forms an incredibly hard skin which resists wearing.[33] Most of the more commonly used steel alloys are categorized into various grades by standards organizations.[32] A special class of high-strength alloy. bulldozer blade edges and cutting blades on the jaws of life. Examples include tank tracks. For example. the austentite undergoes a phase transition to martensite without the addition of heat. retain their mechanical properties at extreme temperatures while minimizing creep. These are commonly used in applications such as jet engine blades where temperatures can reach levels at which most other alloys would become weak. which define alloys such as A36 steel.[36] [edit] Modern production methods White-hot steel pouring out of an electric arc furnace.[31] Eglin Steel uses a combination of over a dozen different elements in varying amounts to create a relatively lowcost metal for use in bunker buster weapons. . the most commonly used structural steel in the United States.[30] Twinning Induced Plasticity (TWIP) steel uses a specific type of strain to increase the effectiveness of work hardening on the alloy. but unlike most steel contains almost no carbon at all. the American Iron and Steel Institute has a series of grades defining many types of steel ranging from standard carbon steel to HSLA and stainless steel. galvanized steel is a commonly used variety of steel which has been hot-dipped or electroplated in zinc for protection against rust.

and screws. Most large modern structures. A piece of steel wool [edit] Historically Before the introduction of the Bessemer process and other modern production techniques. infrastructure and buildings.[37] Once the iron is refined. particularly for the cutting edge of knives. in which pure oxygen is fed to the furnace to limit impurities. in electrical appliances and motor vehicles (despite growth in usage of aluminium. basic oxygen steelmaking. However. razors. from iron ore by combining fuel. mining. such as stadiums and skyscrapers. has generally replaced these older systems. Electric arc furnaces are a common method of reprocessing scrap metal to create new steel. charcoal. railways. such as bolts. including those used in clocks and watches. In addition to widespread use. tools. steel was expensive and was only used where no cheaper alternative existed. They can also be used for converting pig iron to steel. [38] [edit] Uses of steel Iron and steel are used widely in the construction of roads. oil and gas pipelines. It was also used for springs. are supported by a steel skeleton. swords. Even those with a concrete structure will employ steel for reinforcing. and armour in the form of personal vests or vehicle armour (better known as rolled homogeneous armour in this role). and other items where a hard. Modern methods use coke instead of charcoal. aerospace. it is still the main material for car bodies). steel is used in a variety of other construction-related applications. which has proven to be a great deal more efficient and is credited with contributing to the British Industrial Revolution. a crucial step in the steel production process.[18] . office furniture. sharp edge was needed. nails.[39] Other common applications include shipbuilding. steel wool. and are thus generally only economical when there is a plentiful supply of cheap electricity. and air. converters are used to create steel from the iron.Blast furnaces have been used for two millennia to produce pig iron. During the late 19th and early 20th century there were many widely used methods such as the Bessemer process and the Siemens-Martin process. but they use a great deal of electricity (about 440 kWh per metric ton).

• Major appliances • Magnetic cores . steel has been easier to obtain and much cheaper. • The inside and outside body of automobiles. trains.[40] [edit] Long steel A stainless steel sauce boat. the availability of plastics during the later 20th century allowed these materials to replace steel in many products due to their lower cost and weight. • As supports in reinforced concrete • Wires • railroad tracks • Structural steel in modern buildings and bridges [edit] Flat carbon steel A steel pylon suspending overhead powerlines. However.A carbon steel knife [edit] Since 1850 With the advent of faster and more efficient steel production methods. It has replaced wrought iron for a multitude of purposes. and ships.

[edit] Stainless steel A steel roller coaster. Main article: Stainless steel • Cutlery • Rulers • Wrist watches • Surgical equipment [edit] See also • • • • • • • • • • • • • Cold rolling Foundry Global steel industry trends Hot rolling Iron in mythology Pelletizing Rolling Rolling mill Silicon steel Steel producers Steel mill Tinplate The Riddle of Steel .