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A Profile of the Steel Industry by Peter Warrian

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Chapter 2

Steel Basics

Steel: The Metal and Its History

Iron is found in the Earth’s crust in the form of an ore, usually an iron oxide. Iron is extracted by smelting, removing the oxygen, and combining the ore with a preferred chemical partner such as carbon. Ancient methods of smelting have been used since the Bronze Age. The Haya people of East Africa invented a type of high-heat blast furnace, which allowed them to forge carbon steel nearly 2,000 years ago.

Steel is a metal alloy made by combining iron and another element, usually carbon, but it can also be combined with manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten. When carbon is used, its content in the steel is between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Varying the amount ...

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