Ferrosilicon: How its used and produced

Published: 12th September 2008
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Ferrosilicon is also known as ferrosilicium. Due to the fact that it consists of silicon and iron, effectively an alloy of silicon and iron, it is called a ferroalloy. The silicon make-up is usually anything between 15% and 90%. A high proportion of iron silicides are also contained in ferrosilicon with around 1% to 2% of aluminium and calcium present. It is extremely interesting to know the following about ferrosilicon: it melts at around 1200 to 1250 ºC, while it boils at 2355 ºC.

Uses of Ferrosilicon

Ferrosilicon is used as a source of silicon in foundries and steelmaking. It is of great importance in the production of other ferrous alloys, carbon steels, and stainless steels, among other things. Ferrosilicon has excellent deoxidizing properties; it is these properties that help produce the above materials. Loss of carbon from the molten steel are thus prevented through the use of its deoxidizing properties. To put it casually, one can say it is "blocking the heat". Even other ferroalloys can be produced by using ferrosilicon. During the manufacturing of cast iron, inoculation of the iron is done by ferrosilicon. Graphitization of the iron is accelerated by this process. Ferrosilicon can also be found in some electrode coatings during arc welding. Silicon steel for transformer cores and electromotors, silicon, as well as high-temperature-resistant and corrosion-resistant ferrous silicon alloys all makes great use of ferrosilicon.

Production of Ferrosilicon

The production of ferrosilicon is made possible by reducing sand or silica with a product called coke. This must take place in the presence of some source of iron, like millscale or scrap iron. Blast furnaces lined with acid fire bricks are used in the making of ferrosilicon with a silicon content of 15% or less. However, electric arc furnaces are used when making ferrosilicon which has a silicon content of higher than 15%. The prevention of any kind of silicon carbide is done by ensuring to use an overabundance of silica. A useful byproduct here is microsilica.

When wishing to purchase ferrosilicon, one can look at the following ferrosilicons that are on the market today. Ferrosilicons with 15, 45, 75, and 90% of silicon are available. The remaining percentage is of course comprised of iron, with around 2% of calcium and aluminium.

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