Iron is one of the transition metals that has a gray metallic luster in its natural solid state. Iron is the most abundant element, 35% of the Earth’s mass is composed of iron, and it is one of the most used metals in the world. Iron has an atomic mass of 55.845, a melting point of 2800 °F, and a boiling point of 5182 °F. Iron is most commonly used in different types of metallic alloys for many various purposes.
Iron is never found freely in nature, so various isolation purposes are used to isolate iron from minerals that it is found in.
Iron ore, such as hematite and magnetite, are where most of the iron that is used for industrial purposes comes from. Hematite is composed of the iron (III) oxide, and magnetite is composed of the iron (II, III) oxide. The iron is isolated from these minerals through a carbon reaction that is carried out in a blast furnace.
The furnace is heated to 3632 °F, coke which serves as the carbon source is added to furnace with the iron ore, and a flux like limestone is fed through the top of the furnace. Heated air is continually pushed into the bottom of the furnace to maintain the high temperatures. In the furnace, the coke and oxygen react to form carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide reduce the iron ore resulting in pure iron and carbon dioxide. The limestone, or flux, melts other impurities inside the iron to further purify the iron ore.
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