- Pig iron
puddling process of smelting
iron oreto make wrought ironfrom pig iron, the right half of the illustration (not shown) displays men working a blast furnace, "Tiangong Kaiwu" encyclopediapublished in 1637, written by Song Yingxing( 1587- 1666).]
Pig iron is the intermediate product of
smelting iron orewith coke, usually with limestoneas a flux. Pig iron has a very high carboncontent, typically 3.5 - 4.5%,cite book | last = Camp | first = James McIntyre | coauthor = Francis, Charles Blaine | title = The Making, Shaping and Treating of Steel | publisher = Carnegie Steel Co. | date = 1920 | location = Pittsburgh | pages = p. 174 | edition = 2nd ed. | url = http://books.google.com/books?id=P9MxAAAAMAAJ | oclc = 2566055 ] which makes it very brittleand not useful directly as a material except for limited applications.
The traditional shape of the molds used for these
ingotswas a branching structure formed in sand, with many individual ingots at right angles to a central channel or "runner." Such a configuration is similar in appearance to a litter of piglets suckling on a sow. When the metal had cooled and hardened, the smaller ingots (the "pigs") were simply broken from the much thinner runner (the "sow"), hence the name "pig iron". As pig iron is intended for remelting, the uneven size of the ingots and inclusion of small amounts of sand was insignificant compared to the ease of casting and of handling.
The Chinese were making pig iron by the later
Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC - 256 BC). In Europe, the process did not become common until the 14th century.
Pig iron is typically poured directly out of the bottom of the
blast furnacethrough a troughinto a ladle car for transfer to the steel plant in mostly liquid form, referred to as hot metal. The hot metal is then charged into a steelmakingvessel to produce steel, typically with an electric arc furnaceor basic oxygen furnace, by burning off the excess carbon in a controlled fashion and adjusting the alloycomposition. Earlier processes for this included the Bessemer process, open hearth furnace, finery forge, and the puddling furnace.
steel mills and direct-reduction iron plants transfer the molten iron to a ladle for immediate use in the steel making furnaces or cast it into pigs on a pig casting machine for reuse or resale. Modern pig casting machines produce stick pigs, which break into smaller 4-10 kg pieces at discharge.
Pig iron can also be used to produce
cast iron. This is achieved by remelting pig iron, often along with substantial quantities of scrapiron, and removing undesirable contaminants, adding alloys, and adjusting the carbon content.
Pig iron is melted and a strong current of air is directed over it while it is being stirred or agitated. This causes the dissolved impurities (such as silicon) to be thoroughly oxidized. The metal is then cast into molds or used in other processes. This is known as refined pig iron, finers metal or refined iron.cite book | last = Rajput | first = R.K. | title = Engineering Materials | publisher = S. Chand | date = 2000 | pages = p. 223 | isbn = 8121919606]
* [http://www.ironfurnaces.com ironfurnaces.com - a free wiki dedicated to preserving iron furnaces (manufacturers of pig iron)]
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