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Jump to: navigation, search For other uses, see Steel (disambiguation). The steel cable of a colliery winding tower. Look up steel in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Steel is an alloy consisting mostly of iron, with a carbon content between 0.2 and 1.7 or 2.04% by weight (C:1000–10,8.67Fe), depending on grade. Carbon is the most costeffective alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, 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

3. Fe3C) Ledeburite (ferrite .2 Since 1850  7. heat-treated) Other Iron-based materials Cast iron (>2. hard) Bainite Martensite Cementite (iron carbide.1% carbon) Wrought iron (almost no carbon) Ductile iron .3 Stainless steel 8 See also 9 References 10 Further reading o o o 11 External links [edit] Material properties v•d•e Iron alloy phases Austenite (γ-iron.2 Crucible steel o 2. 4. δ-iron.2 Flat carbon steel  7.1 Ancient steel 2.3% carbon) Ferrite (α-iron.2.cementite eutectic.1% carbon) Stainless steel (alloy with chromium) HSLA steel (high strength low alloy) Tool steel (very hard.2 Wootz steel and Damascus steel 2.1 Blister steel  2. 12% cementite) Spheroidite Types of Steel Plain-carbon steel (up to 2.• • • • • • • • • 2.3.1 Historically o 7.4 Modern steelmaking 3 Steel industry 4 Recycling 5 Contemporary steel 6 Modern production methods 7 Uses of steel o 7.1 Long steel  7.3 Early modern steel  2.2. soft) Pearlite (88% ferrite.2.

like most metals. the mixture attempts to revert to the ferrite phase. the most stable form of iron is the body-centered cubic (BCC) structure ferrite or α-iron. understanding these is essential to making quality steel. which is similarly soft and metallic but can dissolve considerably more carbon (as much as 2.[5] As carbon-rich austenite cools. Copper melts at just over 1000 °C.4 wt% of carbon (C:50Fe) is needed to form martensite.33Fe) due to its pearl-like appearance. so that smelting results in an alloy containing too much carbon to be called steel.[4] Even in the narrow range of concentrations that make up steel. This process. Cast iron—iron alloyed with greater than 1. leading to a patterned layering known as pearlite (Fe3C:6. resulting in an excess of carbon.03 wt% carbon at 1154 °C). resulting in a cementite-ferrite mixture. showing the conditions necessary to form different phases. . Since the oxidation rate itself increases rapidly beyond 800 °C. At room temperature. Typical ironcontaining minerals include Fe2O3—the form of iron oxide found as the mineral hematite. known as smelting. As such. called austenite or γ-iron. All of these temperatures could be reached with ancient methods that have been used for at least 6000 years (since the Bronze Age). Unlike copper and tin. When austenite is quenched to form martensite. the carbon is "frozen" in place when the cell structure changes from FCC to BCC. or the similar but less beautiful bainite. and FeS2—pyrite (fool's gold). The carbon atoms are much too large to fit in the interstitial vacancies and thus distort the cell structure into a body-centered tetragonal (BCT) structure. Iron-carbon phase diagram. a fairly soft metallic material that can dissolve only a small concentration of carbon (no more than 0. A minimum of 0. One way for carbon to leave the austenite is for cementite to precipitate out of the mix. it is important that smelting take place in a low-oxygen environment. it requires extremely little thermal activation energy to form. Cementite forms in regions of higher carbon content while other areas revert to ferrite around it. Perhaps the most important polymorphic form is martensite. Martensite and austenite have an identical chemical composition.[3] Iron is extracted from ore by removing the oxygen by combining it with a preferred chemical partner such as carbon. liquid iron dissolves carbon quite readily. while tin melts around 250 °C.021 wt% at 910 °C). Self-reinforcing patterns often emerge during this process. Cementite is a stoichiometric phase with the chemical formula of Fe3C.[2] Iron can be found in the crust only in combination with oxygen or sulfur. leaving behind iron that is pure enough to take the form of ferrite. mixtures of carbon and iron can form into a number of different structures. with very different properties.Iron. was first applied to metals with lower melting points. is not usually found in the Earth's crust in an elemental state. Above 910 °C ferrite undergoes a phase transition from bodycentered cubic to a face-centered cubic (FCC) structure. a chemically metastable substance with about four to five times the strength of ferrite.7% carbon—melts at around 1370 °C.

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

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

During the 17th century it was realised that the best steel came from oregrounds iron from a region of Sweden. Most previous furnaces could not reach high enough temperatures to melt the steel. with the result that it is more homogeneous. The early modern crucible steel industry resulted from the invention of Benjamin Huntsman in the 1740s.[17][18] [edit] Crucible steel Main article: Crucible steel Crucible steel is steel that has been melted in a crucible rather than being forged.[16] [edit] Early modern steel A Bessemer converter in Sheffield. produced by the cementation process was first made in Italy in the early 17th century CE and soon after introduced to England. It was probably produced by Sir Basil Brooke at Coalbrookdale during the 1610s. The raw material for this were bars of wrought iron.precursor to the modern Bessemer process that utilized partial decarbonization via repeated forging under a cold blast. north of Stockholm. [edit] Blister steel Main article: Cementation process Blister steel. Blister steel (made as above) was melted in a crucible in a furnace. This was still the usual raw material in the 19th century. England.[18] [edit] Modern steelmaking . almost as long as the process was used. and cast (usually) into ingots.

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

5% of structural steel beams and plates were recycled. It is cheaper to recycle steel than to mine iron ore and manipulate it through the production process to form 'new' steel. which is enough to power eighteen million homes for one year. steel will be traded as a commodity in the London Metal Exchange. waiting to be recycled. whereas lighter gauge. in both 2004 and 2005.100 kilograms of iron ore. about three quarters of the steel produced annually has been recycled. Steel does not lose any of its inherent physical properties during the recycling process. Between 2000 and 2005. in large part because it is economically advantageous to do so. several Indian[21] and Chinese steel firms have risen to prominence like Tata Steel (which bought Corus Group in 2007). 97. Arcelor-Mittal is however the world's largest steel producer. The energy saved by recycling reduces the annual energy consumption of the industry by about 75%. See also: List of steel producers and Global steel industry trends [edit] Recycling Steel is the most widely recycled material in North America. Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation and Shagang Group.[24] Other steel construction elements such as reinforcement bars are recycled at a rate of about 65%. the numbers are much higher for certain types of products.The economic boom in China and India has caused a massive increase in the demand for steel in recent years. flat rolled steel contains about 30% reused material. The British Geological Survey reports that in 2005. 630 kilograms of coal. However. and 55 kilograms of limestone. Russia and the USA. For example. Since 2000. Indeed.[22] Recycling one ton of steel saves 1.[citation needed] The steel industry has been actively recycling for more than 150 years. . structural steel typically contains around 95% recycled steel content. China was the top producer of steel with about one-third world share followed by Japan. In recent years. In 2008. and has drastically reduced energy and material requirements than refinement from iron ore. world steel demand increased by 6%.[22] A pile of steel scrap in Brussels.[23] 76 million tons of steel were recycled in 2005.

Other special-purpose alloys include weathering steels such as Cor-ten. such as dual-phase steel. while others are nonmagnetic. As such. This creates a very strong but still malleable metal. in amounts of up to 10% by weight to improve the hardenability of thick sections.[22] Global demand for steel continues to grow. either using an electric arc furnace (for production of low-carbon steel) or an induction furnace (for production of some highly-alloyed ferrous products). Commonly recycled steel products include cans.[28] Transformation Induced Plasticity (TRIP) steel involves special alloying and heat treatments to stabilize amounts of austentite at room temperature in normally austentite-free low-alloy ferritic steels. but unlike most steel contains almost no carbon at all. which is heat treated to contain both a ferrite and martensic microstructure for extra strength.[1] Tool steel is generally used in axes. This also allows the use of precipitation hardening and improves the alloy's temperature resistance. By applying strain to the metal. most of the recycled steel is melted electrically. manganese. much of it is actively in use.[26] Some more modern steels include tool steels. automobiles. drills.[8] Carbon steel. For a typical 2. and any waste that is produced may be recycled. chromium. long-lasting cutting edge.[27] Many other high-strength alloys exist. which weather by acquiring a stable. typically 1. to provide additional strength for a modest price increase.5% manganese.[25] Low alloy steel is alloyed with other elements. recycled steel must be augmented by some first-use metal. A typical appliance is about 65% steel by weight and automobiles are about 66% steel and iron.[29] Maraging steel is alloyed with nickel and other elements. which are alloyed with large amounts of tungsten and cobalt or other elements to maximize solution hardening. while a comparable wooden frame house may require as many as 40–50 trees. there is often very little waste produced during construction. and though there are large amounts of steel existing. usually molybdenum. rusted surface. accounts for 90% of steel production. [edit] Contemporary steel Modern steels are made with varying combinations of alloy metals to fulfill many purposes.000-square-foot (200 m²) two-story house. and so can be used un-painted. or nickel. Some stainless steels are magnetic. to resist corrosion (rust).Because steel beams are manufactured to standardized dimensions. and other devices that need a sharp. While some recycling takes place through the integrated steel mills and the basic oxygen process. a steel frame is equivalent to about six recycled cars. often combined with nickel.[30] Twinning Induced Plasticity (TWIP) steel uses a specific type of strain to increase the effectiveness of work hardening on the alloy. derived from raw materials. appliances.[1] Stainless steels and surgical stainless steels contain a minimum of 10% chromium. and debris from demolished buildings. composed simply of iron and carbon.[1] High strength low alloy steel has small additions (usually < 2% by weight) of other elements.[31] Eglin Steel uses a combination of over a dozen different elements in varying amounts to . the austentite undergoes a phase transition to martensite without the addition of heat.

However. charcoal. retain their mechanical properties at extreme temperatures while minimizing creep.[32] A special class of high-strength alloy. During the late 19th and early 20th century there were many widely used methods such as the Bessemer process and the Siemens-Martin process. These are commonly used in applications such as jet engine blades where temperatures can reach levels at which most other alloys would become weak. the most commonly used structural steel in the United States.create a relatively low-cost metal for use in bunker buster weapons.[34] The American Society for Testing and Materials has a separate set of standards. converters are used to create steel from the iron.[36] [edit] Modern production methods White-hot steel pouring out of an electric arc furnace. Hadfield steel (after Sir Robert Hadfield) or manganese steel contains 12–14% manganese which when abraded forms an incredibly hard skin which resists wearing. Modern methods use coke instead of charcoal. They can also be used for converting pig iron to steel.[33] Most of the more commonly used steel alloys are categorized into various grades by standards organizations. Blast furnaces have been used for two millennia to produce pig iron. has generally replaced these older systems. the superalloys. in which pure oxygen is fed to the furnace to limit impurities.[37] Once the iron is refined. which has proven to be a great deal more efficient and is credited with contributing to the British Industrial Revolution. 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. basic oxygen steelmaking. Examples include tank tracks. and air. which define alloys such as A36 steel.[35] Though not an alloy. galvanized steel is a commonly used variety of steel which has been hot-dipped or electroplated in zinc for protection against corrosion (rust). Electric arc furnaces are a common method of reprocessing scrap metal to create new steel. a crucial step in the steel production process. from iron ore by combining fuel. but they use a great deal of electricity . For example. bulldozer blade edges and cutting blades on the jaws of life.

[38] [edit] Uses of steel Iron and steel are used widely in the construction of roads. and are thus generally only economical when there is a plentiful supply of cheap electricity. such as . Most large modern structures.(about 440 kWh per metric ton). infrastructure and buildings. railways.