First of all, it’s critical to understand what is iron because it makes up a considerable part of the planet’s core. The symbol of iron is Fe and the atomic number is 26. It is the most prevalent element on Earth by mass. Iron is abundant in space and is the last component to be formed when energy is released prior to a supernova’s collapse. This element is the fourth most plentiful on Earth’s surface and it’s easy to find in places like quarries and mines. Because it oxidizes when exposed to oxygen, we rarely encounter it in its purest state. Moreover, it is a brittle and hard substance. Machinery and tools, as well as cars, ship hulls, structural elements for buildings, bridges and aircraft are all made of iron. Iron oxides can be found in hematite, limonite, magnetite, pyrite, goethite and other minerals, and iron accounts for almost 90% of all refined metal today, demonstrating its importance. In this article, we will learn the properties, uses and types of iron, in detail.
Properties of iron
Iron has a number of qualities that make it extremely useful in a variety of industries, ranging from metallurgy to recycling. The following list is by no means complete, but it does provide some insight into some of properties of iron.
- Iron has ferromagnetic properties, which means it may produce magnets or be attracted to magnets, making it easier to distinguish it from non-ferrous materials.
- The amount of hardness of iron is one of its most well-known mechanical qualities. Iron is a soft metal that is when mixed with other elements, becomes extremely strong and may be employed in a wide range of applications and industries.
- This element is also inexpensive, making it important to a wide range of sectors all over the world.
- Iron is malleable, meaning it can flex under pressure like hammering, making it easy to work with and shape.
- Conductivity of iron is good for both heat and electricity i.e. Iron is a good conductor of electricity and heat and it’s also easy to magnetize.
- In humid air, it rusts, but not in dry air.
- In dilute acids, it dissolves quickly.
- It transforms to γ-iron at 910°C, which is softer in nature.
- It melts at 1536 degrees Celsius and boils at 2861 degrees Celsius.
- It is magnetic in nature.
Alloys of iron
Iron is a fundamental component of many alloys and is a very important and essential substance in our daily life. The following are some of the most regularly used iron alloys:
- Steel is a substance that is made up of iron and carbon and is widely utilized in building, weapons and transportation.
- Stainless steel is made with at least 10.5 percent chromium. It has an extraordinarily strong corrosion resistance, making it an excellent choice for harsh settings. Stainless steel is a corrosion-resistant metal that is widely used in kitchen cutlery, appliances, and cookware, as well as hospital equipment.
- Carbon steel is a malleable, low-tensile-strength alloy that is neither overly brittle nor ductile.
- Cast iron is a lightweight, robust and wear-resistant material made from pig iron and alloyed with carbon (3–5%) and silicon.
- The combination of iron and nickel results in an alloy that is more resistant to heat and acids.
- The alloy made up of iron and manganese is extremely durable.
- Tungsten and iron – adding tungsten to iron creates an alloy that can sustain hardness at high temperatures.
In the past, iron was widely utilized for tools and weapons; for example, iron ore containing vanadium was used to make Damascene steel, which was ideal for sword-making. Nowadays, iron is utilized to make steel, which is widely used in industrial and civil engineering.
Allotropes of iron
There are 4 allotropes of iron. Three allotropic forms of iron at atmospheric pressure are alpha iron (α-Fe), gamma iron (γ-Fe) and delta iron (δ-Fe). At extremely high pressures, a fourth form known as epsilon iron (ε-Fe) exists. Types of iron and allotropes of iron may get inter mixed mistakenly, but both are different terms.
Types of iron
There re four main types of iron that are:
- Pure iron
- Wrought iron
- Cast iron
- Pig iron
Pure iron is a word used to describe new iron that has been created in an electric arc furnace at temperatures high enough to melt the iron. The resulting material, often known as butter iron, is typically 99.8% pure, with a carbon concentration of roughly 0.005% and manganese content of around 0.005%. There are also traceable amounts of a number of other elements some of which add certain properties to the material and others which are of no significance.
What is wrought iron?
Wrought iron is one of the types of iron with a low carbon content less than 0.1 percent and impurities such as sulphur, phosphorus, silicon, and manganese are less than 0.25 percent. It’s a semi-fused mass of iron with fibrous slag inclusions that give it a wood-like texture that shows up when it’s bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is soft, ductile, magnetic, and strong with high elasticity and tensile strength, malleable and hence can be heated and reheated and formed into various shapes and appropriate for tension and compression members. It resists corrosion and can be welded too.
What is cast iron?
One of the important types of iron is cat iron. The word cast iron refers to a group of ferrous alloys. Cast irons are multi-component ferrous alloys with a eutectic solidification. Iron, carbon (2% or more), silicon (1 to 3 percent), minor elements (less than 0.1 percent) and alloying elements (less than 0.1 percent) are the main constituents of cast irons. Cast iron contains more carbon and silicon than steel. Because of its higher carbon content, cast iron’s structure has a richer carbon phase than steel’s.
Cast iron is a brittle material with low impact strength in its most basic form. When compared to low carbon steels, it has a little more toughness. It has a tensile strength that is a fraction of that of low carbon steels.
What is pig iron?
Types of iron: Pig iron is an iron-carbon alloy including carbon, silicon, manganese, sulphur, phosphorus, and other elements such as titanium. Pig iron has a carbon concentration of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent, a sulphur content of less than 0.05 percent and a phosphorus value of up to 0.12 percent. Pig iron is tough, wear-resistant, flammable and brittle. Except for a few uses, it isn’t useful as a material directly. When compared to steel, it has a lower melting point (1200 degrees Celsius).
Recycling of iron
Steel has one distinguishing feature: it can be recycled indefinitely without losing its material properties. The iron atoms are indestructible and arranging them in a new, regular way to make new steel with new qualities is as simple as melting scrap metal.
Iron is employed as a component in vehicles, especially steel alloys, from cars to ships and airplanes. Recycling your automobile, including the iron in it, provides a number of environmental advantages. By doing so, you are actively assisting in the conservation of natural resources, lowering carbon emissions, and reducing the amount of energy required to produce additional metal from virgin ore. More specifically, for every ton of steel recycled, 1.5 tons of iron ore is saved, emissions are reduced by 86 percent and water pollution is reduced by 76 percent. This means that by scrapping end-of-life vehicles, you help to reduce air pollution, water pollution and mining waste, all of which contribute to greater sustainability.
Steel vs iron
Steel and iron are two of the most often utilized materials in production. They’re employed in a variety of products and components. While iron and steel have a similar appearance, they are two distinct materials with distinct features and qualities. The major distinction between iron and steel is that one is a metal and the other is an alloy.
What is iron?
With an atomic number of 26, iron is a lustrous and ductile metal. It features a gleaming chrome finish that reflects a tremendous quantity of light. Iron is also a ferromagnetic metal, which means it attracts other ferromagnetic metals and is magnetic. Even though iron is a basic element, it is brittle and lacks the stability and magnetism than steel.
Steel is iron alloy that includes less than 2% carbon, whereas pig iron is iron that contains more than 2% carbon. Pig iron is made when iron ore is combined with coke in a blast furnace. Steel is made from pig iron that has been further treated to minimize the carbon content in various furnaces. Steel may now be further treated to produce a variety of alloys. To make alloys, elements such as silicon, manganese and chromium are added. Because of its lower melting point, iron is easier to cast than steel. More carbon can lead to a greater casting temperature, which increases the cost of casting.
What is steel?
Steel is a ferrous alloy that is mostly made up of iron and carbon. Many people believe steel is a metal, however this isn’t always the case. While it has qualities that are similar to metals, it is technically categorized as an alloy. Metals are naturally occurring elements, whereas alloys are made up of several combined elements and components that aren’t found in nature. Iron is a naturally occurring element. It is the most plentiful element on the planet. Steel, on the other hand, is not found in Earth’s outer or inner core because it is a man-made alloy that requires the combination of iron and carbon.
Steel is iron-based, but it also contains carbon. Iron is distinguished from steel by the inclusion of carbon. Steel contains around 2.14 percent carbon by weight. Despite the fact that this is a modest amount of carbon, it causes profound physical effects. Steel is both harder and stronger than pure iron. Steel, unlike iron, is not a required mineral. Steel does not have to be a part of your diet.
Uses of iron
Steel is made from it, and it’s also utilized in civil engineering for things like reinforced concrete and girders.
Alloy steels, like carbon steels, are made with additions including nickel, chromium, vanadium, tungsten, and manganese.
Bridges, power pylons, bicycle chains, cutting tools and rifle barrels are all made from these materials.
Cast iron has a carbon content of 3–5%. Pipes, valves, and pumps are all made of it.
In the Haber process, iron catalysts are employed to produce ammonia.
This metal, as well as its alloys and compounds, can be used to make magnets.