Posts tagged History
Our science books are full of successful inventions of Thomas Edison like electricity, phonograph and many others, but there is hardly any mention about his failures. One of his most peculiar failures was his lack of ability to find an effective way to excavate iron ore.
If he had been successful in excavating iron ore, he would have been a billionaire at that time and the possibilities that would have been generated after excavation like creation of millions of jobs, and many other inventions.
Iron is the most economical of all the metals available for mining, and yet at the same time is of no use in its pure form. Pure Iron is very delicate and cannot be used to manufacture any products. It is silver in color in its pure form. Its gets its gray color after it is combined with oxygen. Iron can not be put any practical application in its pure form.
Hence it was important that an effective extraction process was discovered. For ten years, from 1880 to 1890, Edison carried out many experiments, hired the services of scientists, to find a novel way to extract iron ore. He was doing this to extract iron ore for the Pennsylvania steel mills.
He shifted from his comfortable office to work in the old iron mines to look for an economical way to meet with the growing demand of steel . His experiments of testing and processing were getting very expensive and he had to sell all his stock in General Electric to fund his invention. His heirs must be regretting his decision even today.
Edison could not succeed to extract the iron from unusable, low grade ores. He had to finally abandon this project. He could never recover his money that he had put in this project. Later on however, he a earned lot of money after he continued his work on the phonograph and motion pictures etc.
It was a challenging task for both Edison and the American economy to find an economic way to produce steel at cheaper rates. After 1840 the American iron industry was going thru a resurgence as American was not one of the major steel producer in the world.
In 1844, government surveyors traced huge deposits of iron ore of anthracite in the Great Lakes area. After this Pennsylvania became known as America’s largest supplier of iron and steel.
A British engineer named Henry Bessemer invented a process for steel extraction process. He accomplished the incomplete task of Thomas Edison. He devised an iron smelting process thur which it was feasible to produce large quantities of steel. This process is still used by some manufacturers even today.
His invention was quite inexpensive and provided an efficient process to produce steel from iron ore. But still a refined process was invented by Abram S. Hewitt who even improved on Bessemer process of Andrew Carnegie. He soon became a steel tycoon that by his improved process of developing the open-hearth converter and his process was preferred over that of Bessemer by American steel manufacturers.
The American steel industry was revolutionized with the invention of low cost steel production. American Industry was now the leader in the world in steel production. In 1873 alone, America produced nearly 115,000 tons of steel. It was now possible to use steel in many industries because of fall in its prices.
Automotive industry in America is the major (nearly 70%) user of finished steel in America.
Andrew Caxton is the author of many resources on home decoration related topics.