What is a ferroalloy?

An alloy of iron containing large amounts of other elements is called a ferroalloy. Elements such as aluminum, chromium, manganese, silicon, etc. are alloyed with iron in different percentages and added to steel and other melted metals. These compounds create desirable properties for specific use and application in metals. These elements are added to the molten material in a mixture. It is not possible to use these elements purely for two reasons:

The mentioned elements have a high price and their use without combining with iron is not economically justified.
Due to the high melting point of these elements in the pure state, they need a lot of energy to reach the molten state, which is not technically and economically economical.
How are ferroalloys produced from the past until now?

In the past, these compounds were produced using ground furnaces. In these furnaces, iron ores or iron-containing rocks were melted and ferroalloys such as silicon metal and ferrosilicon were made from the released compounds with the help of reducing agents. But since the melting temperature of these stones was high, the melting process was not possible completely and uniformly.

The result of this method was non-uniform and low-quality parts, which greatly affected the value of the final product. Until the beginning of the 20th century, for the production of crude iron and ferroalloys, this method of melting compounds and stones containing iron, chromium and titanium in blast furnaces was still common. Obviously, the low purity percentage of these products made them unsuitable for industrial use.

From 1920 onwards, with the development of the electrical industry and the construction of generators, new electric arc furnaces replaced the traditional blast furnaces. By providing the required heat for the complete melting of iron compounds, these furnaces were able to produce ferroalloys on a wider scale and with acceptable quality for industrial use. Today, these furnaces are known as a suitable and widely used method in the production of various ferroalloys.

Production methods of various ferroalloys

Some ferroalloys such as ferromanganese are still produced by the traditional method in blast furnaces. This compound is produced by melting materials such as iron ore or non-ferrous minerals, coal coke and coal. Some other compounds can be produced using electric furnaces by creating carbothermic reactions.

In this way, raw materials are oxidized by the furnace in the vicinity of iron and the resulting oxides are regenerated by carbon and its derivatives. In fact, this type of ferroalloy is obtained by combining different elements with molten iron.


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