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In this section, you will learn how Henry Bessemer and his idea of the Converter changed all of Metallurgy

Born to a successful inventor named Anthony Bessemer, Henry Bessemer was born in Charlton, Hertfordshire on January 19, 1813. His father was famous for helping to invent the steam engine, which turned out to be very helpful during the Industrial Revolution.

Although Henry wanted to go to England to pursue his dream of becoming an artist, he first started in his father's factory, which produced gold chains for jewelry. When he went to London in hope of becoming an artist, he realized that he couldn't survive, because his income was incredibly low. So, he started a "Bronze Enterprise". What he did was he discovered a new way to create bronze dust, so it could be used as a tint for paints.

One of Bessemer's siginificant inventions was a stamp. Because of this invention, he was knighted in 1879, to become Sir Henry Bessemer. Yet after this, Henry became more bored with bronze and more fascinated with iron. Because this was the Industrial Revolution and wars were approaching, Bessemer was asked by the British Government to create a stronger steel for a cannon. The reason why Bessemer was asked to do this was because he had a great reputation for his inventions.

When Bessemer was working to find a way to create stronger steel, he theorized that he had to remove the impurities from molten pig iron in order to have a stronger steel. After many hours of observations, he discovered air got rid of the impurities. He soon tested his theory that oxygen helped burn and remove impurities by forcing air through the bottom of an egg shaped cauldron and through the molten iron. This led to the invention of THE CONVERTER.

The converter works like this: In the converter(and oval shaped cauldron), air is blown through molten pig iron. This would burn off carbon from the coal or wood in the large amount of sparks. The still molten iron would tip out of the converter and certain amounts of different elements such as nickel, manganese, or chromium would be added. Because of those elements, the molten iron would turn into steel, one of the strongest alloys.

Henry Bessemer died on March 15, 1898. His invention of the converter helped us all from the Industrial Revolution, to the present.



Above: A picture of Sir Henry Bessemer, the metallurgist known for significantly changing the history of metallurgy.


Above: A picture of the converter in the 1800's.