Original pilot Bessemer converter, 1865.

Made:
1865 in Barrow-in-Furness
maker:
Barrow Haematite Steel Company Limited

Original pilot Bessemer converter from which the first cast of steel was poured at the works of the Barrow Haematite Steel Company Ltd., Barrow-in-Furness, in May 1865

The Bessemer process of steelmaking was the first viable method of producing steel in large quantities. This converter was used at the Barrow Haematite Ironworks, set up by Henry Bessemer, for experiments in perfecting the process. Steel is iron containing a small amount of carbon, up to about 1.5%. Bessemer discovered that if air is blown through molten iron (which contains about 3% carbon) in a converter, some of the carbon would combine with oxygen in the air and be burnt out, reducing the carbon content. No extra fuel was required, because the carbon, oxidised during the blow, generated great heat. This made available large quantities of steel at a reasonable price, gradually replacing wrought iron. Bessemer faced technical challenges perfecting his steel-making process, particularly using it with iron ore containing a lot of phosphorus. However, modern steel making still relies on Basic Oxygen Steelmaking, which is derived from Bessemer’s original process.

On display

Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Details

Category:
Metallurgy
Object Number:
1959-186
type:
steel
credit:
Killingbeck, W.

Cite this page

Rights

We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.


Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero


Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data

Download

Download catalogue entry as json

View manifest in IIIF viewer

Add to Animal Crossing Art Generator

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.