What is the first thing that comes to our mind when we hear the term “Metallurgy,” it must have to do something with metals, and you’re not wrong when you think so.
Metallurgy is that branch of science which deals with different physical and chemical behaviors of different elements, their compounds, and alloys.
Humans have known the existence of metals since prehistoric times, as we know have evidence of small bits of gold first appearing in some Spanish caves around 40,000 B.C.
The process of Copper Smelting was used by us back in 5000 B.C. We now also know that during the construction of The Great Pyramids in Egypt, workers there used tools made of irons. And thousands of years later, humans are still using the same metals and have discovered a few more and are still looking for more undiscovered metals.
Common terms used
- Ore– Ores are the substance from which metals are extracted.
- Smelting– It is a chemical process that involves heating of the ore above its melting point to reduce it into metals.
- Flux– Its added to the ore during the process of smelting.
- Roasting– It’s the process of heating metal below its melting point in a regulated supply of air.
- Refining– Its the process of removing impurities from metals.
Metals are extracted from ores that contain metal and also a lot of impurities with it. The process of extracting metals from the ore and removing the impurities is called extractive metallurgy.
There are many different methods of extraction.
- One of them is crushing the ore to particles small enough that waste particles are already removed during crushing.
- Another method is leaching, where the ore is dissolved, and a solution is obtained, which is then processed for metal extraction.
- Magnetic Separation is one of another process where the crushed ore is placed on a conveyor belt which is magnetized. The metallic ores stick to the conveyor belt while the impurities are dropped off.
Types of Metallurgy
- Ferrous Metallurgy– Ferrous Metallurgy deals with ores of iron and ores of iron-related alloys.
- Non-Ferrous Metallurgy– Non-Ferrous metallurgy deals with all the ores which are not related to iron and its alloys.
Some Common Elements and their Ores
- Sodium(Na)-Sodium Chloride (NaCl), Sodium Nitrate(NaNO3), and most important Borax(Na2B4O7.10H20).
- Potassium(K)- Potassium Chloride(KCl), Potassium Carbonate(K2CO3)
- Magnesium– Magnesite(MgCO3), Dolomite(MgCO3.CaCO3)
- Calcium– Calcium Carbonate(CaCO3)
- Aluminum– Bauxite(AlO3.2H2O)
Importance of Metallurgy
Our world is dependent on metals like Iron and Aluminium because most of our infrastructure involves the use of either one of them or both. Therefore, it is very important to maintain a constant supply of these metals.
This means that we need to use Extractive Metallurgy for the development of this world. Still, we also need to understand that it’s not only about extracting metals from the ores, but it’s also about the affordable extraction of metals because we need to spend as little as possible on extraction processes so that the cost of extracted metals can be minimized.