Sunday, 9 October 2011

Making steel - episode 2

Last week Jean Paul finished preparing the furnace for the iron reduction. I helped by sorting the magnetic bits of ore to go into the furnace with a magnet - this was fun, but very messy!!
Thursday was the big day for extracting the iron from the ore. Jean Paul lit the fire in the morning. It needed 3 hours to reach the correct temperature before adding iron ore and charcoal in equal quantities every few minutes. We were able to watch what was going on in the furnace by looking down a pipe with a protective lens which was inserted into the side of the furnace.
The iron should melt and collect in a 'loupe' at the base of the furnace.
Jean Paul wasn't entirely happy with the way the the fire was going - so opened it up with a certain amount of trepidation! Well - there was a 'loupe' but it seems that something didn't go quite right and the iron has too much carbon in it, which turns it into steel. Well, it is steel that he wants eventually, but the loupe now has to be heated in a 'Japanese furnace', which risks adding even more carbon.....which will not be good as he will end up with cast iron!! So the experiment continues this week.......
It is proving to be a very complicated and intricate process where all the elements need to be just right for it to work effectively.
More photos of last weeks experiment are here

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