Although modern metallurgy had exponential growth after Industrial Revolution, many modern concepts in metallurgy have their roots in ancient practices that predated the Industrial Revolution. For over 7000 years, India has had high tradition of metallurigical skills. Ancient Indian metallurgists have made major contributions which deserve their place in metallurgical history of the world. In the case of zinc and high–carbon steel, ancient India contributed significantly for the developemnt of base for the modern metallurgical advancements which induced metallurgical study leading to Industrial Revolution.
Metals are required for a variety of purposes. For this, we need their extraction from the minerals in which they are present and from which their extraction is commercially feasible.These minerals are known as ores. Ores of the metal are associated with many impurities. Removal of these impurities to certain extent is achieved in concentration steps. The concentrated ore is then treated chemically for obtaining the metal. Usually the metal compounds (e.g., oxides, sulphides) are reduced to the metal. The reducing agents used are carbon, CO or even some metals. In these reduction processes, the thermodynamic and electrochemical concepts are given due consideration. The metal oxide reacts with a reducing agent; the oxide is reduced to the metal and the reducing agent is oxidised. In the two reactions, the net Gibbs energy change is negative, which becomes more negative on raising the temperature. Conversion of the physical states from solid to liquid or to gas, and formation of gaseous states favours decrease in the Gibbs energy for the entire system. This concept is graphically displayed in plots of Ellingham diagram for such oxidation/reduction reactions at different temperatures. The concept of electrode potential is useful in the isolation of metals (e.g., Al, Ag, Au) where the sum of the two redox couples is positive so that the Gibbs energy change is negative. The metals obtained by usual methods still contain minor impurities. Getting pure metals requires refining. Refining process depends upon the differences in properties of the metal and the impurities. Extraction of aluminium is usually carried out from its bauxite ore by leaching it with NaOH. Sodium aluminate, thus formed, is separated and then neutralised to give back the hydrated oxide, which is then electrolysed using cryolite as a flux. Extraction of iron is done by reduction of its oxide ore in blast furnace. Copper is extracted by smelting and heating in a reverberatory furnace. Extraction of zinc from zinc oxides is done using coke. Several methods are employed in refining the metal. Metals, in general, are very widely used and have contributed significantly in the development of a variety of industries.
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Chemistry -Principles and Processes of Isolation of Elements
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This course contains:
Table of contents
You will learn
✓ Explain the terms minerals, ores, concentration, benefaction, calcination, roasting, refining, etc
✓ Understand the principles of oxidation and reduction as applied to the extraction procedures
✓ Apply the thermodynamic concepts like that of Gibbs energy and entropy to the principles of extraction of Al, Cu, Zn and Fe
✓ Explain why reduction of certain oxides like Cu2O is much easier than that of Fe2O3
✓ Explain why CO is a favourable reducing agent at certain temperatures while coke is better in some other cases
✓ Explain why specific reducing agents are used for the reduction purposes
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