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The Smelting Process: Reduction, Fluxes and Metals

One of the forms of extracting metals is smelting. The purpose of the smelting process is to produce a metal from its original ore. This includes many types of base metals such as extracting iron from iron ore and copper from its ore. The process of smelting uses both heat and a chemical reduction agent. This process changes the oxidation state of the ore.

One of the forms of extracting metals is smelting. The purpose of the smelting process is to produce a metal from its original ore. This includes many types of base metals such as extracting iron from iron ore and copper from its ore. The process of smelting uses both heat and a chemical reduction agent. This process changes the oxidation state of the ore.

 

Typical reduction agents are made of some type of carbon, such as coke or charcoal. The carbon works to remove the oxygen from the ore and leaves behind the metal. There are two stages of oxidization of carbon, the first produces carbon monoxide and the second produces carbon dioxide.

 

Smelting Process

Essentially, smelting may seem like it is just simply melting the ore to get to the metal. However, the process isa bit more complex than this. Ores are typically part of a chemical compound that includes the metal along withseveral other elements, including sulfide, oxides, and carbonates created by carbon and oxygen. In order for themetal to be released a chemical reaction must occur within these compounds. For this reason, the smeltingprocess must include some type of reducing substance that will combine with the elements in order to free themetal.

 

Roasting Process

For sulfides and carbonates, a roasting process is used to get rid of the unwanted sulfur or carbon. This willleave the oxide behind that can then directly be reduced. Typically, this process is carried out in some form ofoxidizing environment.

 

Examples of roasting include Malachite, which is one of copper’s common ores. It is made of mostly coppercarbonate, which will undergo thermal decomposition at the temperatures between 250 and 350 degrees Celsius.The carbon dioxide will be expelled, which leaves behind the copper oxide. This can be reduced to copper.

 

Reduction

The final high temperature step in the smelting process is reduction. This is where the final oxygen is taken from the raw metal and the elemental metal is released. The temperature required for this process will vary depending on what the melting point of the base metal is.

 

Fluxes

In the smelting process, fluxes are used to serve many purposes. The main purpose of fluxes is to catalyze thereactions and to be chemically binding to the unwanted reaction products and impurities. One of the mostcommonly used oxides for this process was calcium oxide, which is used in the form of lime. This is becausewould react with the sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide during the roasting process and keep it out of the workenvironment.

 

Common Metals

There are several types of metals that can be removed from their ore using the smelting process. The mostcommonly known metal that the smelting process is used for is iron. However, smelting can also be used forremoving tin, lead, copper, bronze, and aluminum from their ores as well as several other types of metals suchas zinc.

 

To find out more about smelting and general mining topics, please visit PublicMining.org, a free resourcedirectory showcasing public mining companies like Win-Eldrich MinesFeature Articles, Creso Exploration and thousands more.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

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