The Bessemer Thomas Steel Process

The Bessemer Thomas Steel Process was a well known method of producing high-quality steel by shooting air into molten steel to burn carbon and other impurities. The Bessemer Thomas Process was named after the British inventor Sir Henry Bessemer, who worked to develop the process in the 1850s.

What Exactly is The Bessemer Thomas Process?

The Bessemer Thomas Process is a process by which steel is made from pig iron by burning out carbon and other impurities by blasting air forced through the molten metal.

The Bessemer Thomas Process was the first ever inexpensive industrial process that allowed the mass production of steel. Before the development of the open-mouth furnace, this process used a molten pig iron to melt iron. The difference with this process was that air was forced through the molten iron to remove impurities and also burn carbon. 

Henry Bessemer

Henry Bessemer, a British inventor of the greatly improved steel process was born in Charlton, England, on January 19, 1813. 

His father owned a type foundry (A type foundry is a company or an industry that designs or distributes typefaces ), which made mechanical type used in printing presses. He also came up with a method of hardening the metal he used, which made his type last longer than the normal type made by his competitors.

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The Bessemer Converter 

The Bessemer converter was a machine that removes impurities from pig iron. The major aim behind its operation was the removal of impurities like silicon, manganese and carbon using oxidation thereby turning the brittle, largely unusable pig iron into very useful steel.

The oxidation of impurities occurs in a Bessemer converter, a large egg-shaped container in which the iron is melted. The solid iron is inserted through a hole at the top and heated from below.  Once the converter has melted in the pig iron, pressurized air that was injected through and across the liquid metal thereby forcing the unwanted silicates to react with oxygen and convert into gas and/or solid oxides.

Once the oxidation process has taken place, the usable molten steel can be poured directly from the container  by tipping it on a central pivot – the container is suspended off the ground by a pair of large struts – while the slag is skimmed off the surface for reuse or disposal. The steel is emptied into large moulds, where it can be set into different products.

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Advantages of Bessemer Thomas Process

  1. The Bessemer Thomas Process allows steel to be produced in bulk without the use of fuel, using the impurities of the iron to create the necessary heat. This method drastically reduces the cost of steel production, but raw materials with the required characteristics can be difficult to find.
  2.  The Bessemer Thomas Process made the process of making steel became less labor-intensive
  3. Due to its small size, major repairs can be carried out within short periods.

Disadvantages of Bessemer Thomas Process

  1. One of the difficulties with Bessemer Thomas Process was that it was not able to remove the phosphorus found in pig iron (This element can be removed by adding a basic flux such as lime, but the basic slag produced would degrade the acidic refractory lining of the Bessemer converter.)
  2.  The steel produced via Bessemer Thomas Process always had retention of a small amount of Nitrogen from the air blast which affected its structural stability and also it’s longevity when used for construction.
  3. The Bessemer Thomas Process usually produces inferior quality of steel associated with blow holes and inclusions.
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What was the advantage of using the Bessemer Thomas Process?

One of the advantages of using The Bessemer Thomas Process was that it allowed steel to be produced without fuel, therefore using the impurities of the iron to create the necessary heat. This helps in  drastically reducing the costs of steel production.

What problem did the Bessemer Thomas Process fix?

The Bessemer converter was an ugly, clay-lined crucible that made the problem of removing impurities ver easy — excess manganese and carbon, mostly — from pig iron is removed through the process of oxidation.

How did the Bessemer Thomas process affect people?

The biggest way that the Bessemer Process changed the world was by making steel less expensive and mass-producible. Steel became dominant amongst construction materials solely because of this invention.

What did the Bessemer converter do?

The bessemer process reduced molten pig iron. An opening in the upper narrow portion of the bessemer converter allows the iron to be introduced and the finished product to be poured out.