Facts about steel

We found 14 facts about steel

Just a bit of carbon changes everything

Steel is a highly versatile and durable material used in a wide range of industries, including construction, automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing. The modern steel industry began in the 19th century, but the history of steel production dates back to ancient times.

There are many different types of steel, each with its own unique properties and characteristics. The versatility and durability of steel make it an essential part of modern society, and it is likely to continue to play a key role in shaping the world we live in for many years to come.

It is worth remembering that iron is an element, while steel is an alloy of which iron is the main component.

Production of steel dates back to 1800 BC.

So far, the oldest excavation site where steel production was carried out is located in Anatolia in present-day Turkey.

Modern steelmaking began in 1855.

The father of the process was Sir Henry Bessemer, an English inventor. His method was widely used for nearly 100 years until it was replaced by more efficient and cheaper ones. Bessemer's method relied on the use of "pig iron" - an intermediate product made by smelting iron ore in a blast furnace. 

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Steel is primarily made up of iron (98%) and carbon (2%). 

Other additives such as manganese, nickel, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum or tungsten give the alloy specific properties.

More than 1.9 billion tons of steel are produced annually.

This means that approximately 5.2 million metric tons of steel are produced every day.

The most produced type of steel is carbon steel. It is made of carbon and iron and accounts for about 90% of the world's steel production.

It can have aditional elements but in small quantities. Carbon steel is used in the construction of buildings, bridges, railroad tracks, automobile parts, and pipes for the oil industry. Since it is susceptible to corrosion, it shouldn't be used with water and in humid conditions. To protect it from rusting, it is coated with protective coatings such as paints.

Carbon is what gives steel its hardness and strength. It makes up to 2.14% of an alloy. 

Steel becomes harder but less plastic as more carbon is added.

Most types of steel melt between 1370°C (2500°F) and 1500°C (2732°F).

The melting temperature depends on its composition. In general, high-alloyed steels containing more alloying elements have higher melting points than low-alloyed steels.

Tungsten steel contains 2% to 18% of this element. It is extremely resistant to heat, corrosion and wear.

Tungsten is one of the oldest elements used in steel alloys. It is used in many industries that rely on high durability, such as rocket engine nozzles, gears, bearings, valves, cutting equipment and surgical tool manufacturing.

Stainless steel contains a minimum of 11% chromium. It is characterized by superior biological cleanability.

Such alloy is perfect for food or pharmaceutical purposes. It is worth mentioning that stainless steel is not completely immune to corrosion. It is generally considered to be biologically inert, but it can release small amounts of nickel and chromium during the preparation of highly acidic foods.

While nickel is known to increase the risk of cancer, there is no scientific evidence that stainless steel cookware can cause this disease.

Mangalloy is an alloy steel containing 11 to 15% manganese.

Manganese is added to steel to make it tougher, stronger and more resistant to wear and abrasion. It is also used to remove any impurities and as a deoxidizer. Mangalloy is used in the mining industry and in high-impact environments.

China is the world's largest producer of steel. The country accounts for 57% of the world's production.

The European Union is the second largest producer and India is the third largest producer. Other major global steel producers are: Japan, USA, Russia, South Korea and Turkey.

It is one of the most recycled materials in the world.

Approximately 60% of steel is recycled. However, because more steel is produced than is recycled, only about 40% of steel produced comes from recycling.

The first all-steel bridge is the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, USA.

Construction began in 1867 and was completed in 1874 at a cost of about $10 million. It is a combined road and railroad bridge that is still in use. It was designed by James Buchanan Eads, a famous American inventor and engineer.

The first building constructed primarily of steel was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, USA, completed in 1885. 

The building was designed by architect William Le Baron Jenney. It had 10 stories and a height of 42.1 m (183 ft) and was later raised to 12 stories in 1891.

The building weighed about 30% of a masonry building, which caused panic among Chicago officials. They were so concerned about safety that at one point they stopped construction to make sure it wouldn't collapse.

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