Metallurgy - Term Overview

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The metallurgy is the set of knowledge, techniques, and procedures allowing the extraction and treatment of metals starting from minerals. The term also allows to refer to the industry that is dedicated to this activity.

It can be said that metallurgy combines art, science and technology to obtain metals that can be used in multiple ways. Metallurgical work must preserve the environment and, in turn, must be sustainable from an economic point of view.

The origins of metallurgy are remote. In the Neolithic, prehistoric man already collected silver, gold and copper that he found in their natural state. Through blows, he generated sheets that he then used. Over the years, furnace smelting was discovered and molten metals began to be molded.

The experiments with alloys allowed a new advance in metallurgy and the evolution of humanity. These works led to the creation of all kinds of tools, instruments, weapons and ornaments.

It's possible to differentiate between various processes that are carried out in the framework of metallurgy. The first task is to obtain the metal from the mineral, an action that can be achieved through chemical operations (such as oxidation, leaching and hydrolysis ) or physical operations ( milling, decanting, centrifuging, distillation, etc.).

The production of alloys and purification to remove impurities are other processes carried out by metallurgy, which is considered one of the most important and dynamic sectors of the economy worldwide.

It's important to know that within metallurgy there are different branches. Among the most significant is extractive metallurgy. This is the one in charge of studying the chemical methods that must be carried out to ensure that the mineral ores, with the corresponding process, allow obtaining metals with different degrees of purity.

These operations that are carried out within this aforementioned branch can be of two types: dry and wet. Both are carried out with elements such as iron, copper, zinc, aluminum, steel or nickel, for example.

Metallurgy and steel industry are sometimes confused. However, they are different things. Thus, we can establish that the latter is the metallurgy that is specialized in steel, iron and their corresponding foundries.

Furthermore, the steel industry has to indicate that it has very varied applications. Specifically, it's present both in the automobile industry and in the manufacture of beverage containers and even in the construction sector (structures, facades, roofs, reinforced concrete...).

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