The Blast Furnace

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The method

Three substances are needed to enable to extraction of iron from its ore. The combined mixture is called the charge:

Iron ore, haematite - often contains sand with iron oxide, Fe2O3.

Limestone (calcium carbonate).

Coke - mainly carbon.

The charge is placed a giant chimney called a blast furnace. The blast furnace is around 30 metres high and lined with fireproof bricks. Hot air is blasted through the bottom.

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Several reactions take place before the iron is finally produced.

Oxygen in the air reacts with coke to give carbon dioxide:

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The limestone breaks down to form carbon dioxide:

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Carbon dioxide produced in 1 + 2 react with more coke to produce carbon monoxide:

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The carbon monoxide reduces the iron in the ore to give molten iron:

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The limestone from 2, reacts with the sand to form slag (calcium silicate):

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Both the slag and iron are drained from the bottom of the furnace.

The slag is mainly used to build roads.

The iron whilst molten is poured into moulds and left to solidify - this is called cast iron and is used to make railings and storage tanks.

The rest of the iron is used to make steel.

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