Saturday, April 19, 2008

Steampunk Technology: Bessemer Converters in Babbage Square

Bessemer Converters in action across from the Rusty Cog, in Babbage Square

While walking around Babbage Square a few weeks back, I came across one of the more unique builds in New Babbage - a set of working Bessemer Converters. Often called "those things with molten metal", the Bessemer Converters was the first means to inexpensively mass-produce steel from molten pig-iron.

Imagary of a British Converter in the 1891, at Sparrow's Point, UK

The key principle is removal of impurities from the iron by oxidation through air being blown through the molten iron. The oxidation also raises the temperature of the iron mass and keeps it molten.

Another photo of the New Babbage Converters

As the process decreased the cost of, and increased speed and quantity of steel, this material became more common place during the latter half of the 19th century, allowing its use in more industrial works (e.g. bridges, buildings).

Artistic impression of a converter at Longwy Steelworks, France

By the mid 20th century, it was replace by the Linz-Donawitz process, which allowed better control of composition of the forming metal.

Converter in use in Workington, UK

However, steampunk in almost every aspect (including the iconic "cog"), depends on metals (including the processes that produce them), and not everything is copper and brass (lol)! So after conducting a bit of research on them, I can actually use my "Thurston Howell, III" voice when asked about it...."I say, it a set of Bessemer Converters, old chap!

and yes, they can even be topiary!

References: (for the bulk of the article)

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