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824
IRON AND STEEL


a closed chamber to about 1o0o° C. (1S32° F.) for from 8 to II days. Low-carbon steel might thus be converted into hightarbon steel, but this is not customary. The carbon dissolves in the hot but distinctly solid 'y-iron (compare fig. 1) as salt dissolves in water, and works its way towards the centre of the bar by diffusion. When the mass is cooled, the carbon changes over into the condition of cementite as usual, partly interstratified with ferrite in the form of pearlite, partly in the form of envelopes enclosing kernels of this pearlite (see ALLOYS, Pl. fig. 13). Where the carbon, in thus diffusing inwards, meets particles of the slag, a basic ferrous silicate which is always present in wrought iron, it forms carbonic oxide, FeO+C= Fe+C0, which puffs the pliant metal up and forms blisters. Hence the name “ blister steelf' It was formerly sheared to short lengths and formed into piles, which were then rolled out, perhaps to be re sheared and rerolled into bars, known as “single shear ” or “ double shear ” steel according to the number of shearing. But now the chief use for blister steel is for remelting in the crucible process, yielding a product which is asserted so positively, so universally and by such competent witnesses to be not only better but very much better than that made from any other material, that we must believe that it is so, though no clear reason can yet be given why it should be. For long all the best high-carbon steel was made by' remelting this blister steel in crucibles (§ 106), but in the last few years the electric processes have begun to make this steel (§ 108).

104. Case H ardeuing.—The many steel objects which need an extremely hard outer surface but a softer and more malleable interior may be carburized superficially by heating them in contact with charcoal or other carbonaceous matter, for instance for between 5 and 43 hours at a temperature of 800° to 900° C. This is known as “case hardening.” After this carburizing these objects are usually hardened by quenching in cold water (see § 28). ~ I

IOS. Deep Carburizing; Harvey and Krupp Processes.-Much of the heavy side armour of war-vessels (see ARMOUR-PLATE) is made of nickel steel initially containing so little carbon that it cannot be hardened, i.e. that it remains Very ductile even after sudden cooling. The impact face of these plates is given the intense hardness needed by being converted into high-carbon steel, and then hardened by sudden cooling. The impact face is thus carburized to a depth of about ri in. by being held at a temperature of IIOO° for about a week, pressed strongly against a bed of charcoal (Harvey process). The plate is then by Krupp's process heated so that its impact face is above while its rear is below the hardening temperature, and the whole is then cooled suddenly with sprays of cold water. Under these conditions the hardness, which is very extreme at the impact face, shades off toward the back, till at about quarter way from face to back all hardening ceases, and the rest of the plate is in a very strong, shock-resisting state. Thanks to the glass-hardness of this face, the projectile is arrested so abruptly that it is shattered, and its energy is delivered piecemeal by its fragments; but as the face is integrally united with the unhardened, ductile and slightly yielding interior and back, the plate, even if it is locally bent backwards somewhat by the blow, neither cracks nor flakes.

IO6. The crucible process consists essentially in melting one or another variety of iron or steel in small 80-lb. charges in closed crucibles, and then casting it into ingots or other castings, though in addition the metal while melting may be carburized. Its chief, indeed almost its sole use, is for making tool steel, the best kinds of spring steel and other very excellent kinds of high-carbon and alloy steel. After the charge has been fully melted, it is held in the molten state from 30 to 60 minutes. This enables it to take up enough silicon from the walls of the crucible to prevent the evolution of gas during solidification, and the consequent formation of blowholes or internal gas bubbles. In Great Britain the charge usually consists of blister steel, and is therefore high in carbon, so that the crucible process has very little to do except to melt the charge. In the United States the charge usually consists chiefly of wrought iron, and in melting in the crucible it is carburized by mixing with it either charcoal or “ washed metal, ” a. very pure .cast iron made by the Bell-Krupp process (§ IO7). Compared with the Bessemer process, which converts a charge of even as much as 20 tons of pig iron into steel in a few minutes, and the open-hearth process which easily treats charges of 75 tons, the crucible process is, of course, a most expensive one, with its little 80-lb charges, melted with great consumption of fuel because the heat is kept away from the metal by the walls of the crucible, themselves excellent heat insulators. But it survives simply because crucible steel is very much better than either Bessemer or open hearth steel. This in turn is in part because of the greater care which can be used in making these small lots, but probably 'in chief part because the crucible process 'excludes the atmospheric nitrogen, which injures the metal, and because it gives a good opportunity for the suspended slag and iron oxide to rise to the surface. Till Huntsman developed the crucible process in 1740, the only kinds of steel of commercial importance were blister steel made by carburizing wrought iron withoutvfusion, and others which like it were greatly injured by the presence of particles of slag. Huntsman showed that the mere act of freeing these slag-bearing steels from their slag by melting them inclosingd crucibles greatly improved them. It is true that Réaumur in 1722 described his method of making molten steel in crucibles, and that the Hindus have for centuries done this on a small scale, though they let the molten steel re solidify in the crucible. Nevertheless, it is to Huntsman that the world is immediately indebted for the crucible process. He could make only high-carbon steel, because he could not develop within his closed crucibles the temperature needed for melting low-carbon steel. The crucible process remained the onl one by which slagless steel could be made, till Bessemer, by his astonishing invention, discovered at once low-carbon steel and a process for making both it and high carbon steel extremely cheaply.

107. In the Bell-Kmpp or “pig-washing” process, invented independently by the famous British iron-master, Sir Lowthian Bell, and Krupp of Essen, advantage is taken of the fact that, at a relatively low temperature, probably a little above rzo0° C., the phosphorus and silicon of molten. cast iron are quickly oxidized and removed by Contact with molten iron oxide, though carbon is thus oxidized but slowly. By rapidly stirring molten iron oxide into molten pig iron in a furnace shaped like a saucer, slightly inclined and turning around its axis, at a temperature but little above the melting-point of the metal itself, the phosphorus and silicon are removed rapidly, without removing much of the carbon, and by this means an extremely pure cast iron is made. This is used in the crucible process as a convenient source of the carbon needed for high-carbon steel. 108. Eleolrie steehmaking processes, or more accurately processes in which electrically heated furnaces are used, have developed very rapidly. In steel-making, electric furnaces are used for two distinct purposes, first for making steel sufficiently better than Bessemer and open-hearth steels to replace these for certain important purposes, and second for 'replacing the very expensive crucible process for making the very best steel. The advantages of the electric furnaces for these purposes can best be understood after examining the furnaces themselves and the way in which they are used. The most important ones are either “ arc ” furnaces, .i.e. those heated by electric arcs, or “induction ” ones, Le. those in which the metal under treatment is heated by its own resistance

tg a current of electriciliy

induce in it from without. T e /=

Heroult furnace, the best known A

in the arc class, and the Kjellin '] ' ['and Roechling-Rodenhauser fur- .i ., ,, ,<.», ;¢»;2, -, gps naces, the best known of the H

induction class, will serve as ~ I ~ j

examples. ' 1

The Heroult furnace (fig. 23) is

practically a large closed crucible,

ABCA, with two carbon electrodes,

E and F, “ in Series " with the bath, FUff1a°@-H, of molten steel. A pair of electric

arcs play between these electrodes and the molten steel, passing through the layer of slag, G, and generating much heat. The lining of the crucible may be of either magnetite (MgO) or chromite (FeO~Cr2O3). The whole furnace, electrodes and all, rotates about the line KL for the purpose of pouring out the molten FIG. 23.-Heroult Doublearc

Electric Steel Purifying