Have you ever wondered where the word steel comes from? Well, it comes from the Latin “aciarius” and this from “acies” which is what the edge of a knife is called in this language. 

Really Steel has become an essential material for the construction sector and for daily life in general., almost all utensils used daily are made of steel. But… How it all started?


The first steps: the Iron Age

The process of the discovery of this material and the tools that can be obtained from it is called “Iron Age” and we can divide it into two parts. The first began in approximately the year 1200 BC, since there is no exact date. The most important is the second stage, which was when it was discovered how to extract iron, also to make wrought iron. Thanks to this, civilizations that had weapons made of this material were stronger and usually won battles.


Steel was discovered by chance, that is, unintentionally. The first artisans who worked with iron produced what is now called wrought iron. To get to the steel they had to go through several processes before. 

What the first blacksmiths did was heat a mass of iron ore and charcoal in a large furnace with forced draft, which therefore reduced the ore to a spongy mass of metallic iron full of metallic impurities, as well as ashes. of charcoal. This iron sponge had to be removed while it was still cold, while strong blows were given to it with large hammers in order to expel the slag and weld the iron. In short, what they manufactured were the bases of what is known today as steel. But it wasn't steel back then, we're not there yet.

The Bessemer converter

Image Wikipedia


They were not aware of the new material they were creating, but they were aware that the iron they were creating was harder and more resistant. 

Thus, the first steel research works were born. They wanted to try several things, such as rapid cooling techniques, water and oil cooling, to be able to expand the resources, characteristics and be able to do great things that not even they imagined.


The development of steel: The Bessemer converter

During these investigations, came the discovery of the alignment of iron and carbon, what is known as steel. This new material was a great step and a great discovery in the history of humanity. Steel became the preferred material for making armor and weapons. The only negative point was that steel was difficult to manufacture at that time since they could produce small quantities and it took a long time.


But it doesn't end here, the engineer Henry Bessemer totally revolutionized steel manufacturing making it easier to manufacture. He created a converter called “The Bessemer converter”, this changed everything. He turned pig iron into steel. This converter was a steel boiler on the outside and the interior was made of a material that withstood heat and fire. Since then, steel has been produced in greater quantities and more quickly. 

The Bessemer converter

Since the 1960s, several mini furnaces have been operating that use electricity to produce steel from waste, that is, scrap metal. Thanks to this, steel could be used for many more things.


Steel today

Currently, steel production has furnaces in operation that are improved models of those used in the past.

Steel has reached large infrastructures, skyscrapers and railways. They have carried out some world-renowned buildings, such as the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Brooklyn bridge

Countless alignments and variables have been developed and this material has been greatly used, something that continues to be done.

There is a big market behind steel and About 1.628,6 million tons are manufactured throughout the planet. Although its manufacturing involves a lot of pollution since a lot of carbon dioxide emissions are produced. Fortunately In Spain there has been a 75% decrease in emissions and a goal, an objective has been established: produce steel with zero net CO2 emissions. If you want to know more about this topic, we invite you to read our previous blog “Steelmaking and climate neutrality in 2050". 


In conclusion, the advancement of steel began when the Bessemer converter was manufactured, after that, years later, electric furnaces appeared. 

Steel is a very versatile material, for which new ways of use or improvements in products, new alloys and coatings are always found. TRUE?