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Ferro Alloys are alloys of iron, composed of different quantities of various elements. Extensively used in the manufacturing of various alloys and special steel, ferroalloys tend to impart desirable properties to molten metals. Ferroalloys predominantly consist of silicon, manganese and chromium. Depending on the composition of the ferroalloy, they can be used to bestow upon steel, properties which include improved hardness, corrosion resistance, high tensile strength, resistance to wear and abrasion, and increased creep strength. They can also be used as deoxidisers, modifiers and help to control non-metallic particles’ inclusion providing better quality steel.
The manufacturing process and the type of steel being produced are the deciding factors while choosing a ferroalloy from the variety of options. Abundantly used in the Iron and Steel Industry, the Foundry Industry, and the Electrode Industry, good quality ferroalloys are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly method to purify and improve the quality of the product.
Classified on the basis of usage and availability, Ferro Alloys are of two categories, namely, Bulk Ferro Alloys and Noble Ferro Alloys.
Bulk Ferro Alloys
Bulk ferroalloys are produced in large volumes in electric arc furnaces and are exclusively used in iron and steel foundries and industries. They are further divided into four categories: Ferro-Manganese, Silico-Manganese, Ferro-Silicon, and Ferro Chrome.
Ferro-Manganese is an alloy of iron with a high concentration of manganese. These are primarily used in the manufacturing of steel and stainless steel industries. Ferro-Manganese is used as a deoxidizing and desulphurizing agent. The manganese in this alloy provides hardness and resistance to wear and tear. Based on the different concentrations of carbon and silicon, Ferro-Manganese is of three grades:
- High Carbon Ferro-Manganese (HC Fe-Mn): In HC Fe-Mn, the concentration of Manganese ranges from 72-82%; Carbon ranges from 6-8%, and Silicon is 1.5%.
- Medium Carbon Ferro Manganese (MC Fe-Mn): In MC Fe-Mn, the concentration of Manganese ranges from 74-82%; Carbon ranges from 1-3%, and Silicon is 1.5%.
- Low Carbon Ferro Manganese (MC Fe-Mn): In LC Fe-Mn, the concentration of Manganese ranges from 80-85%; Carbon ranges from 0.1-0.7%, and Silicon from 1-2%.
Silico-Manganese has a high concentration of both silicon and manganese along with Iron. This ferroalloy is quickly replacing Ferro-Manganese as a deoxidizing agent and especially acts as a substitute for Low Carbon Ferro Manganese. Silico-Manganese is preferably used in the manufacturing of steel. This is also used as a feedstock to produce refined alloys. As per the concentration level of different elements, there are two different types of Silico-Manganese:
- Standard Grade Silico-Manganese (Si-Mn): In Standard Grade Si-Mn, the concentration of Manganese ranges from 60-70%; Silicon ranges from 10-20%, and Carbon is 2%.
- Low Carbon Silico-Manganese (LC Si-Mn): In LC Si-Mn, the concentration of Manganese ranges from 60-70%; Silicon ranges from 10-20%, and Carbon is 0.1%.
An alloy of iron with a high concentration of silicon ranging from 65-90%, Ferro-Silicon is used to increase the strength of steel. It is a powerful deoxidizing agent. Therefore, Ferro-Silico is utilized in the manufacturing of steel used for producing wire cords for tires and ball bearings. It is also used in the manufacturing process of electrical steels that are employed for transformers and dynamos, alloy steels for tools and automobile valves, iron castings and mineral dressings. Our military uses Ferro-Silicon for the quick production of hydrogen for balloons.
With a concentration of 45-70% Chromium, this alloy of iron imparts hardness, strength and augments the stainless characteristic of steel. Thus, it is used in the production of stainless steel. Ferro-Chrome which contains less than 56% of chromium is known as Charge Chrome. Depending on the concentration of carbon in the alloy, there are three types of Ferro-Chrome:
- High Carbon Ferro-Chrome (HC Fe-Cr): In HC Fe-Cr, the concentration of carbon ranges from 6-8%. This is mainly used in the production of specialist applications such as engineering steels.
- Medium Carbon Ferro-Chrome (MC Fe-Cr); In MC Fe-Cr, the concentration of carbon ranges from 3-4%.
- Low Carbon Ferro Chrome (LC Fe-Cr): In LC Fe-Cr, the concentration of carbon ranges from 1.5-3%. This alloy is used to correct chrome percentage in steel production and for the manufacturing of acid-resistant steels. This also serves as an alternative to metallic chrome in superalloys and other melting applications.
Noble Ferro Alloys
Unlike bulk ferroalloys, Noble Ferro Alloys are used in small quantities and are relatively expensive. They are a vital additive and act as a deoxidant and alloying agent required in the production of alloys and special steels. Noble ferroalloys are high-temperature alloys and thus, render strength, resistance, and stability within a wide temperature range from 260-1200°C. These alloys are primarily used in the production of alloys and steel for turbine engines, power plants, furnaces, and all pollution control equipment. On account of the constituent elements of the alloy, there are different types of noble Ferroalloys:
Ferro Nickel (FeNi)
With a high percentage of nickel, this iron alloy is used in the production of construction and stainless steel.
In Ferro-Molybdenum, the concentration of Molybdenum varies from 60-70%. This alloy is mainly used in the production of alloy steel.
Ferro-Vanadium alloy has a Vanadium concentration that ranges from 35-80%. Used for the manufacture of high-speed steels, it modifies the microstructure of the steel and provides high tensile strength, hardness, and high-temperature strength.
Ferro Tungsten (FeW)
An alloy of iron with a high percentage of tungsten, Ferro-Tungsten is utilized in the production of special high-speed steels. Tungsten increases the high-temperature strength, hardness, tensile strength, and wear-resistance of steels since it forms stable carbides when used as an alloying agent. The high-speed steels manufactured using this alloy are used in high-speed cutting tools that have to withstand temperatures as high as 600°C.
Ferro Alloys are the simplest way to obtain the desired qualities in a product. With the latest technology that incorporates pollution control measures during the manufacture of ferroalloys, they pave an economic as well as ecological pathway for the growth and success of the Iron and Steel Industry, the Foundry Industry and the Electrode Industry.
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