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Iron and Steel Industry 2
Pig iron is smelted in steel furnaces, and is freed from all impurities. Then a small percentage of carbon is added to the pure iron to convert it into steel Manganese is an essential element in steel making. About 14 lbs. of manganese is needed to produce a ton of steel.
From the earliest age there have been continuous improvements in steel technology and it is now produced in number of processes. They are as follows:
1. The Crucible process: Wrought Iron (i.e. iron freed from all impurities) is melted in a clay and graphite pot and the carbon and allays are added directly to the molten iron. This is an old, slow and expensive process but produces the finest steel.
2. The Bessemer process: It is the earliest method for large-scale production of steel. This process requires less coal and can very rapidly convert pig iron in steel.
3. The Opern Hearth process: Though the process is a bit more expensive and slow, it produces high-grade steel. In this process more scrap can be used with pig as raw material. It is the most widely used process in the world.
4. The Basic process: It is an improvement over Bessemer process and it can drive out phosphorus from the pig iron. Steel making industries of Germany and France using ore of Lorraine are mostly benefited by this process.
5. The Electric process: This is widely used in countries, which are poor in coal but well developed in hydro-electricity. Electric furnaces are largely used in France, Sweden, Italy and Japan. Due to higher temperature and better control of heat, electric furnaces produce the finest steel.
Alloy Steel. Previously steel was only hard or medium or soft according to its carbon content. Now various kinds of alloy steel are produced by the addition of a small percentage of other metals. About one-fifth of the entire steel output is now alloy-steel.
Integrated Steel Plants and Production
For economy in cost of production, a modern steel plant is usually large in size and integrated in function. An integrated steel plant now includes at one location (i) coke ovens, (ii) blast furnaces (for pig,) (iii) steel furnaces (for steel), and rolling mills (for shapings).
Iron and steel industry is so diverse and wide in its range that its locations cover most of the industrialized areas of the world. Modern steel plants have developed in many countries yet, six great industrial nations of the world, namely, the U.S., Russia, West Germany, Great Britain, France, Japan and possibly China produce over 80 per cent of pig and steel
U.S.A.: The United States of America is the world's second largest producer of iron and steel. The U.S.A. produced 126 million metric tones of crude steel in 1983, which rose to 128 in million metric tones in 1988. Even this gigantic production cannot meet her internal demand of steel, which was about 135 million tons in 1984. To meet the enormous demand of her multifarious engineering industries she had to import steel.
The most significant fact about iron and steel industry of the USA is its heavy concentration in the north-eastern part of the country. An easy access to the best coking coal of North Appalachian coal fields, an access to the giant ore deposit of the Mesabi range (Minnesota), the splendid transport channels provided by the Great Lakes, navigable rivers and canals suitable for the movement of heavy and bulky goods like coal and iron, a dense net-work of roads and railways, earlier settlement of skilled European immigrants and an ever growing industrial market extending from middle Atlantic cost westwards to Chicago and St. Louis are contributing factors for this unusual concentration of iron and steel industry in this part of the country. Three distinct steel districts have developed in the northeastern region, namely,
1. The Pittsburgh district.
2. The lakes shore (a) on the shore of Lake Eire; (b) on the south shore of lake Michigan.
3. The Middle Atlantic Sea-board steel centres.
These three areas practically produce 85 per cent of nation's iron and steel.
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