Iron and Steel have been critical to launching our civilization into industrialization and mechanical progress. These materials have become an integral part of our society, and even though naysayers have prdicted that in time plastics and polymers would replace all metal usage, that time has yet to realize.
Iron making is a dirty process, utilizing furnaces and techniques that can be incredibly polluting. MIT researchers have just introduced a new technique for making iron that could be quite nonpolluting. This could be very interesting, but only if we ar enot just shifting the polution to another place (i.e. at an power production plant instead of the steel mill). If you are confused about the different between cast iron, wrought iron and steel, read this essay.
MIT devises eco-iron
August 28, 2006 9:43 AM PDT
Iron. It’s the material of the industrial revolution, and it’s dirty stuff to make.
Researchers at MIT, however, say they have come up with a way to produce the metal without generating carbon dioxide or other pollutants. In the experimental process, an electric current is passed through a vat of liquid iron oxide, which then gets transformed into iron and oxygen.
“What sets molten oxide electrolysis apart from other metal-producing technologies is that it is totally carbon-free and hence generates no carbon dioxide gases — only oxygen,” said Lawrence W. Kavanagh, AISI vice president of manufacturing and technology in a prepared statement.
Another potential advantage is that manufacturers are familiar with the electrolysis process: this is similar to how aluminum gets made.