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Teaching old tricks to new dogs : using the bloomery as a teaching tool for extractive metallurgy

Dr Ir Vitry Veronique | University of Mons, Belgium

Teaching old tricks to new dogs :  using the bloomery as a teaching tool for extractive metallurgy

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The experimental aspects of teaching extractive metallurgy are often very limited due to the complexity of the process and the high temperatures required. Consequently, most practicals involve either plant visits, were the students can see less and less of the process each year due to the increase of the security measures in iron and steelmaking plants. The lab alternatives are often outside of the main processes: raw materials preparation and evaluation, chemical analysis of raw materials and products, or they involve mostly computer modeling of the process (using tools as steeluniversity for example). To answer to the need of the students to observe the phenomena happening in steelmaking, we chose to use an experimental bloomery. For our first attempt, this was carried out as a 3rd year bachelor group project in our chemistry and materials science engineering curriculum. The group of students studied the process, designed the bloomery themselves, based on a lit review and went on to construct and operate it, using loosely the guidelines of the CDIO approach. After the experiment, we were able to obtain several kilograms of bloomery iron that were investigated with modern methods (SEM, EDX, numerical microscopy). In the future, the experiment will be reproduced by the lab staff, to present a one day practical for the students and to enable us to show the iron and steelmaking processes to non-scientific audiences.