All elements are found in nature either in the Free State like gold, or in the combined
state in the form of different compounds.
Metallic compounds can be in the form of oxides, carbonates or sulphides. These
metallic compounds are also called minerals. For the extraction of metals, we require
some procedure which is economically cheap and practically easy and must give
maximum yield of metal.
What is Metallurgy?
Back to Top
Most of the metals occur in the crust of the earth in the combined state, in the formed
of compounds known as minerals. These minerals have lots of impurities. The
abundance of different metals in the earth crust varies from metal to metal, like
oxygen (45.5%) is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust followed by silicon
(27.7%) and aluminum with 8.3%. Since the different metals are present in
varying levels and have different physical and chemical properties, the
extraction of different metals from their metallic compounds requires different
methods. The process of extraction of metals from their respective metallic
compounds is termed as metallurgy.
Back to Top
The branch of chemistry which deals with the properties of matter and their
application in various areas of science and engineering is called as materials
science. The domain of materials science in which we are interested in, is related to
the studies of the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements and their
mixtures, and is known as metallurgy.
Any metallurgy process involves some common steps.
1. Crushing and grinding of a suitable metallic compound
2. Concentration of the metallic compound
3. Extraction of metal from the metallic compound
4. Refining of the crude metal
History of Metallurgy
Back to Top
The process of metallurgy is one of the oldest branches of science; it can be traced
back to 6000 BC. In the 17th century, only 12 elements were known and this number
increased to 24 by the 19th century. Gold and copper are the first metals to be
discovered and from that time to 770 years back, only 12 elements were discovered.
Out of these elements some were discovered in the 13th and 14th centuries like
arsenic, antimony, zinc and bismuth while platinum was discovered in the 16th
century. Rest of the seven metals are called Metals of Antiquity as they were the
metals upon which civilization was based.
These seven Metals of Antiquity were
1. Gold (ca) 6000 BC
2. Copper,(ca) 4200 BC
3. Silver,(ca) 4000 BC
4. Lead, (ca) 3500 BC
5. Tin, (ca) 1750 BC
6. Iron,smelted, (ca) 1500 BC
7. Mercury, (ca) 750 BC
Out of the Metals of Antiquity, five metals, gold, silver, copper, iron and
mercury can be found in their native states, but the occurrence of these metals was
not abundant. After these seven metals of antiquity Arsenic was the next element
discovered in the 13th century by Albertus Magnusthrough the heating of arsenious
The next metal to be discovered was antimony which was extracted from antimony
sulphide after roasting it in an iron pot in 1560. In 1595; bismuth was extracted by
the reduction of bismuth oxide in the presence of carbon. No doubt zinc was a well
known element that time but it was first extracted by the distillation process and later,
a mixture of calamine (zinc oxide) and charcoal was heated in an earthenware pot to
produce zinc metal. After that, several other metals were extracted from their
respective ores during the 1700's like Nickel, Manganese, Molybdenum, Tungsten,
Beryllium, Chromium, Cobalt, Uranium, Zirconium Tellurium and Yttrium.
Back to Top
There are so many terms which are specifically used in the different metrical steps of
1. Mineral: The naturally occurring chemical substance in the form of which the
metal occurs in the earth with various impurities.
2. Ore: The mineral form from which a metal can be extracted conveniently and
3. Pulverization: The grinding and crushing of the ore into small pieces by using
ball mill or stamp mill.
4. Benefaction: The process of removal of unwanted impurities from the ore.
5. Ore-dressing: The removal of unwanted silicon, and other impurities from the
ore, to increase the concentration of metallic compound in the given amount
6. Levigation: The process of removal of heavy ore particles from lighter
particles by washing with water.
7. Gangue or matrix: The unwanted impurities present in the ore.
8. Electromagnetic separation: Separation of magnetic or non-magnetic
unwanted impurities from the ore by using an electromagnet.
9. Froth-flotation method: Removal of impurities from sulphide ores by wetting
the surface of sulphide ore with oils while the gangue is wetted with water.
10. Collector: Chemical substance which increases the non-wettability of ore
particles in the froth-flotation method.
11. Froth-stabilizer: Chemical substances which stabilize the froth formed during
the froth-flotation method.
12. Leaching: The process of treatment of the ore with suitable reagent which
can selectively dissolve the ore but not it's impurities.
13. Calcination: The process of conversion of the ore into it's oxide by heating it
below its melting point in the absence of oxygen.
14. Roasting: The process of conversion of the ore into it's oxide by heating it
below its melting point in the presence of oxygen.
15. Flux: Chemical substance which can combine with gangue for separating it
from the crude metal.
16. Slag: the fusible material formed by combination of flux and gangue.
17. Pyrometallurgy: Conversion of the metallic oxide to metal in the presence of
a suitable reducing agent at high temperature.
18. Hydrometallurgy: Conversion of the ore to crude metal in the presence of a
suitable reducing agent in a solvent.
19. Electrometallurgy: Electrolysis of a suitable metallic compound to get pure
20. Ageing (Age Hardening): The process of changing the structure which may
occur gradually in certain metals and alloys at atmospheric temperature or
more rapidly at higher temperatures.
21. Annealing: The heating process followed by cooling to make an object soft
and for removing stresses.
22. Anodizing: The process of coating metallic alloy like aluminum or aluminum
alloys with a layer consisting essentially of aluminum oxide.
23. Poling: A refining process of crude metal for removing metal oxide impurities
by stirring molten metal in a ladle with a pole of green wood.
Back to Top
The study of the processes used in the separation and concentration of a metallic
compound to get pure metal is called extractive metallurgy. It is a sequence of
processes from mining the ore from the earth's curst and removing the impurities,
followed by conversion of the ore into crude metal which is further purified to get
maximum yield of metal. The different steps are as follows.
1. Crushing and grinding of ore
In this step, the big lumps of ore are crushed by using a ball mill or stamp mill into
small pieces so they can react quickly. This step is also termed as pulverization.
2. Ore-dressing or benefaction of ore
This step involves the removal of gangue or matrix by using a suitable method which
depends on the type of ore. For example; if the ore is heavier than gangue, simple
washing by water can be used, which is termed as hydraulic washing or levigation or
gravity separation method.
For sulphide ores froth â€“flotation method is used in which the impure ore is mixed
with water and pine oil to make a suspension. The suspension is violently agitated by
the rotating paddle which draws in air, causing frothing. Due to this the ore particles
which are wetted by oil come to the surface with the froth, which can easily be
separated to get pure ore.
If any one part of the impure ore is magnetic in nature (either ore or gangue)
electromagnetic method can be used in which the impure ore is dropped over a
conveyer belt moving around two rollers, one of which is an electromagnet. The
magnetic parts will be attracted by the electromagnet and collect as a separate heap
from the non-magnetic part.
3. Conversion of ore to their oxide
It involves two methods.
Calcination: This method is used for carbonate and hydrated ores which are
heated strongly below the melting point in a limited supply of oxygen. The
carbonate ores release carbon dioxide and form metal oxide while hydrated
ores become dehydrated. For example;
â†’ CaO + CO
O â†’ Fe
Roasting: This method is used for sulphide ores in which the ore is heated
below its melting point in the presence of excess air. This step removes
moisture and organic matter associated with the ore as well as non-metallic
impurities like phosphorus, arsenic etc.
4. Conversion of metallic oxide in to metal
There are three different methods for the conversion of metallic oxides into metal.
Pyro metallurgy: It is a high temperature process in which ore particles
undergo reactions to form intermediate compounds for further processing or
to get converted into their elemental or metallic state. It involves the heating of
the material obtained from roasting or calcination, in the presence of a
suitable reducing agent. During the heating process some chemical
substance is added which further reacts with gangue at high temperature and
is known as flux.
Hydro metallurgy: The process of dissolving an ore in a suitable reagent
followed by the extraction of the metal either by electrolysis or displacement of
the metal by a more electropositive metal is called hydro metallurgy. This
process uses aqueous solutions to extract metals from their ores. The most
common hydro metallurgical process is the extraction of gold and silver.
Electro metallurgy: Electro metallurgy is the metallurgical processes in
which the extraction of metal takes place in an electrolytic cell. The molten
metallic salt is taken as the electrolyte in the cell, with suitable electrodes. The
molten metallic salt dissociates in pure metal and is collected at the cathode.
For example, Dow process is used for the extraction of magnesium from its
salt, magnesium chloride, which is the main component of sea water.
Hence magnesium metal is collected at the cathode and chlorine gas is released as
a side product.
5. Refining of metal
The process of purifying the crude metal is called as refining. There are various
methods for the refining process which depends upon the physical as well as
chemical properties of metal. For example; distillation, liquation, electrolytic refining,
zone refining, vapor-phase refining and chromatography.
Back to Top
Iron is usually extracted by using oxide ores like
Limonite ( Fe
Iron pyrites (FeS)
Out of these ores, haematite is the best ore of iron. Iron metallurgy involves the
1. Concentration: Since iron ores are heavier than their impurities, hydraulic
washing is used for the concentration of the ore. For iron sulphide, the froth-
flotation method is a good method for concentration or ore-dressing.
2. Calcination: The oxide ores of iron are heated in the presence of limited
oxygen in a reverberatory furnace. This process is used to remove moisture
and non-metallic impurities associated with the ore. The ferrous oxide present
in the ore is oxidized to ferric oxide.
3. Smelting: The calcined ore is reduced with carbon in a blast furnace at high
temperature. The blast furnace is a tall cylindrical furnace made up of steel
and lined with fire bricks. It is slightly narrow at the top and wide at center with
a narrow bottom. There is a cup and cone arrangement in the furnace which
helps to feed the charge from the top without letting any gas from inside
escape. The charge consists of ore, coke and limestone in a 8:4:1 ratio. The
temperature of the blast furnace is maintained at 1000 K by blowing hot air in
the furnace. Different reactions take place at different temperatures.
Zone of combustion:
Temperature is around 1500-2170K
CO2 + C → 2CO
Zone of slag formation:
→ CaO + CO
CaO + SiO
Zone of reduction:
+ CO → 2FeO +CO
+ CO → 3FeO + CO
FeO + CO → Fe + CO
The iron obtained from the blast furnace is called pig iron and contains 4% of carbon
with lots of other impurities. This pig iron is further converted in to cast iron which
has less content of carbon and is brittle in nature. The purest form of iron is called
wrought iron, having only 0.2-0.5% of carbon with traces of phosphorus and silicon.
Wrought iron is ductile, soft and malleable in nature.
Powder Metallurgy Process
Back to Top
The process of formation of precision metal component from metal powder is called
Powder metallurgy (PM). For making the required shape of the metal component, the
metal powder is first pressed into the product shape at room temperature and then
heated, so that the metal particles are fused together without melting.
The metallic components produced by powder metallurgy have adequate physical
and mechanical properties. Powder metallurgy is a cost effective process to produce
a component of a given shape and the required dimensional tolerances compared to
the cost of casting or making it as a wrought iron product. The main industrial
applications of PM parts include self â€“ lubricating bearings, porous metal filters and
many engineered shapes, like gears, cams, brackets, sprockets, etc. In powder
metallurgy there are three main steps; mixing (or blending), compacting,
Mixing: This step involves the homogeneous mixing of powdered
metal or alloy powders which depends on the need.
Compacting: The controlled amount of the mixed metal powder is
subjected to high pressure in the range of 100 MPa to 1000 MPa in a
precision die. The pressure required depends upon the nature and shape
of the particles as well as the method of mixing. The compacting process
is generally done at room temperature so that the metallic powder is
consolidated and densified into a shaped model. These models are
known as â€œgreen compact.â€• The compacting process involves
The empty die cavity is filled with mixed metallic powder.
The metal powder in the die is pressed by the simultaneous movement of
upper and lower punches.
The upper punch is withdrawn, and the green compact is ejected from the die
by the lower punch.
The green compact is pushed out of the pressing area so that the next
operating cycle can start.
Sintering: The heating process of green compact is known as
sintering. The compact metal is heated in a protective atmosphere
furnace to a suitable temperature, below the melting point of the metal.
This process produces the physical and mechanical properties in the
powder metal part by developing metallurgical bonds between the
powder particles. The structure and porosity of sintered compact depends
on the temperature, time, and processing method.
Back to Top
Bronze is a metal alloy. It is made by blending copper and tin in different amounts.
The amount of copper, tin, and other elements depends on the use of bronze. Some
other elements like manganese, lead, and phosphorous are added in the making of
bronze, which adds the specific properties in this alloy. For example, the addition of
phosphorus increases the alloy hardness while the use of lead makes it easier for
casting. The lead bronze contains 10 to 29% of lead.
The aluminum bronze is good in strength and are resistant to corrosion. Bronze is
used in bells, gears, valves, pipes, and plumbing fittings material etc. It is very useful
in industries as it contains some specific properties. It is highly useful in machine
parts due to minimal friction.
Due to non sparking property makes it useful in combustible environments. The
property of natural patina of bronze makes the alloy dark, dull in color. It forms a
protective layer which prevents the alloy from oxidation below the surface of alloy.
Back to Top
It is the science related to the physical and mechanical character of the metal and
alloy. These properties are affected by chemical, mechanical and thermal treatment
of metal and alloy. Some of the important concepts of physical metallurgy are given
Recrystallization and recovery
Nucleation and growth
Hardenability of steel
Eutactoid transformation in steel
Tempering of mertencite
Electrical resistivity of alloy
1. Recrystallization and recovery - When the metals are cold worked; some
amount of energy is stored in its deformed structure which acts as a
thermodynamic driving force. This stored energy induced the metal to get un
deformed state. Thus the formation of the defect Free State is known as
Recrystallization. It is done at particular temperature which is known as
recrystallization temperature. For pure metal its equal to 0.3 to 0.4 T and for
alloys its 0.5Twhere t is melting point.
2. Grain growth - In the grain growth, the effect of time and temperature is
studied. The grain growth depends on the following factors like the annealing
temperature, the duration of annealing process, the degree of cold work and
the use of additives in metal and alloy. The annealing process is the process
of grain growth. If the temperature is higher than the Recrystallization
temperature then the grain are continuously grow and thus the large crystal
are formed by absorbing the small ones.
3. Nucleation and growth - The main objective is to measure the nucleation
and growth rate of metal and alloy. There are two phase of transformation one
is homogeneous and the other is heterogeneous. In the most of the alloys,
heterogeneous transformation is observed. The rate of heterogeneous is
determined by the rate of the nucleation and growth. The rate of nuclei is
expressed in terms of number of nuclei formed per unit time and per unit
volume and the growth rate is expressed in terms of cm per second.
4. Carburizing - This is the process of measuring the diffusion coefficient of
carbon in steel.
5. Hardenability of steel - The susceptibility to hardness of steel is measured
by quenching. The susceptibility of steel shows the depth of hardening of steel
under given cooling condition. The hardenability is related to the isothermal
transformation. Steel will harden up to high degree with low critical cooling
rate than steel with high critical cooling rate.
6. Eutactoid transformation in steel -This involves the measurement of inter-
lamellar spacing and volume fraction of pearlite. When the high temperature
of austenite transforms into the aggregate of two layers ferrite and cementite
is known as pearlite. This transformation is affected by time, temperature and
pearlier morphology factors.
7. Tempering of mertencite - It involves the study of decomposition of
mercentite in the process of tempering. Tempering is the simple heat
treatment which is used to increase the physical properties of quenched steel.
8. Electrical resistivity of alloy - It includes the calculation of band gap energy
in the semiconductors like germanium etc.
9. Electrical conductivity of ionic solid - The electrical conductivity of ionic
solids is due to the migration of ions in the influence of electric field. The
migration is because of presence of some lattice defects in crystal.
10. Dielectric behavior of barium titanate - The dielectric behavior of barium
titanate is measured by calculate the dielectric constant and Curei-weiss
temperature. The polymorphic transformation occurs in barium titanate. It is
from Rhombohedral to Orthorhombic to Tetragonal to Cubic. All these are
interconvertible to each other at particular temperature.