Ferroalloys are iron alloys that include a high proportion of one or more chemical elements such as manganese (Mn), aluminium (Al) or silicon (Si). They are generally used in the production of steel and other types of iron or alloys with a lower content of elements other than iron itself. In this way, their corrosion resistance is improved and also to counteract the negative effects of sulphur during the production process.
Types of ferroalloys
There are many types of ferroalloys, depending on whether the aim is to deoxidise iron or to add other metals in order to obtain special steels with defined characteristics. The most common in the industry are ferromanganese, silico-manganese and ferrochromium.
This is an alloy of iron obtained by carbothermal reduction, which is a chemical reaction of ores based on manganese oxides. It is used in the manufacture of various types of steel to reduce the amount of iron oxide resulting from the production process.
This alloy is a stable material under normal conditions, although in contact with moisture, acids or oxidising agents it produces metal oxides which can be harmful on prolonged exposure. It is not a dangerous element for transport, although according to European regulations, precautions must be taken to avoid spreading the dust it gives off, as it is a pollutant.
Ferrochrome is an alloy produced from the reduction of chromium ore and accounts for more than 90% of the production of chromium ore. This alloy is classified in the sector according to its carbon content, distinguishing between carburised ferrochrome (from 4% to 10%), refined ferrochrome (from 0.5% to 4%) or super refined ferrochrome (from 0.01% to 0.5%), where each type has a different application.
This alloy is composed of iron and silicon with a content ranging from 40% to 80%. The quality of the product varies between these two percentages. Ferrosilicon is obtained by the reduction of dylic through coking coal in the presence of iron ore in blast furnaces.
One of its main applications is as a deoxidiser in the production of stainless steels.
As with ferromanganese, care must be taken with the dust it gives off during transport, as it is harmful to the environment and causes respiratory tract irritation. It can also cause explosions if it comes into contact with humidity.
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