What is Sponge Iron?


09:02 AM

1 min read
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The domestic sponge iron manufacturers fear a continuous shortage of iron ore may bring them to the brink of collapse

About Sponge Iron

  • Direct-reduced iron (DRI), also called sponge iron, is produced from the direct reduction of iron ore (in the form of lumps, pellets, or fines) by a reducing gas produced from natural gas or coal. 
  • The reducing gas is a mixture, the majority of which is hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO), which act as reducing agents. 
  • This process of reducing the iron ore in solid form by reducing gases is called direct reduction.
  • Why is it called Sponge Iron?
    • The process of sponge iron manufacturing involves the removal of oxygen from iron ore.
    • When that happens, the departing oxygen causes micropores in the ore body, turning it porous.
    • When the eventual product is observed under a microscope, it resembles a honeycomb structure, which looks spongy in texture. Hence the name sponge iron.
  • Significance:
    • Its significance in the steel industry ranges from an alternative to scrap to boosting furnace efficiency. 
    • It is used as a substitute for scrap in induction and electrical furnaces.
    • The reason for this is that melting scrap is expensive and also in short supply, so sponge iron is the perfect alternative when it comes to using it in the production of high-quality steel.
    • It is an iron source that is relatively uniform in composition, and virtually free from tramp elements.
  • India is the world's largest producer of sponge iron, most of which is produced primarily through the coal-based method of production. India produces 20% of the world’s sponge iron with over 200 plants

Q1) What is Steel?

It is an alloy of iron and carbon in which the carbon content ranges up to 2 percent (with a higher carbon content, the material is defined as cast iron). By far the most widely used material for building the world’s infrastructure and industries, it is used to fabricate everything from sewing needles to oil tankers.The main reasons for the popularity of steel are the relatively low cost of making, forming, and processing it, the abundance of its two raw materials (iron ore and scrap), and its unparalleled range of mechanical properties.

Source: ‘Ore shortage’ hitting steel production, says sponge iron industry, seeks ban on exports