Fact File about the Invention of Steel (Bessemer Process): Invention:
Bessemer Process *** Date of Invention: 1855 *** Name of Inventor: Henry
Bessemer *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1813 - 1898 *** Nationality of Inventor:
English *** Historical Period: Second US Industrial Revolution / Victorian (1850
- 1914) *** Category: Building and Construction *** Country of Origin: England
*** Facts about the Inventor, Henry Bessemer, and the invention of the Bessemer
Fact 1: Who invented Steel? The ability to produce cheap steel, called
the Bessemer Process, was invented by Henry Bessemer in 1855 during the Second US Industrial Revolution era of inventions (1850 - 1914)
and the United States moved from the Age of Iron to the Age of Steel making new,
exciting inventions possible such as skyscrapers, elevators, tools and
instruments. The production of cheap steel helped to make stronger rails for
constructing the railroads across the United States
of America and Europe.
Fact 2: Who invented Steel? Prior to the invention of the Bessemer
Process in 1855, the knowledge of steel had been around dating back to antiquity
but there was no simple way to create steel from iron which produced steel
cheaply, efficiently and in large quantities.
Fact 3: Who invented Steel? Steel is an alloy of iron, with carbon.
Alloys are metals that combine two or more elements that are often stronger and
harder than the pure metal.
Fact 4: Who invented Steel? To make steel, iron ore is first mined from
the ground. It is then smelted in blast furnaces where the impurities, such as
nitrogen, silicon, phosphorus and sulfur are removed.
The problem was that there was no simple way to control the carbon level in iron
so that the metal could be manufactured inexpensively and in large quantities.
Fact 5: Who invented Steel? The ancient process to produce steel
involved heating wrought iron in contact with a carbon source, usually charcoal,
in such a way as to exclude exposure to air. The quality of the metal was poor
Fact 6: Who invented Steel? Some progress in manufacturing took place in
Medieval Europe due to the improved blast techniques due to the use of coal as
fuel that enabled increased temperatures to be attained.
Fact 7: Who invented Steel? In 1781 the Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman
(20 March 1735 – 8 July 1784) had explained the relationship between iron and
steel. Understanding the relationship between iron and steel increased further
when British chemist, Henry Clifton Sorby (10 May 1826 – 9 March 1908),
developed techniques for studying iron and steel with microscopes proving that a
small but precise quantity of carbon gave steel its strength.
Fact 8: Who invented Steel? These important discoveries paved the way for
Henry Bessemer's invention of the Bessemer Process and the mass production of
Fact 9: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer, was born on January 19, 1813 in Charlton, Hitchin, Hertfordshire,
England and died on March 15, 1898.
Fact 10: Who invented Steel? The early years of Henry Bessemer were spent in Charlton, Hertfordshire where he was raised by his family.
His father was Anthony Bessemer who was an engineer and inventor and was made a
member of the French Academy of Science for his amendments on the optical
Fact 11: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer received an excellent
education before he was forced to end his studies to help his father who was in
considerable financial difficulties. Henry Bessemer developed an understanding
of metallurgy, learning about the properties of metals, their production and
purification, from his father.
Fact 12: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer's understanding of metals and
his inventive mind led to wealth and success when he invented six steam-powered
machines that were used for making bronze powder and gold paint.
Fact 12: Who invented Steel? In 1847 William Kelly (1811 - 1888) an
American owner of a Kentucky iron-works had started to experiment in processes
for converting iron into steel. William Kelly had the idea that fuel would be
unnecessary after the iron was melted if powerful blasts of air were forced into
the fluid metal.
Fact 13: Who invented Steel? William Kelly's ideas were interesting and
Henry Bessemer began his quest to find a process to create a cost-effective and
efficient method of producing steel.
Fact 14: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer's theory behind the
conversion from iron to steel was that the heat generated by the union of the
oxygen of the air with the carbon of the metal, would result in burning off the
impurities. The procedure for achieving this would become known as the Bessemer
Process, the method of refining fluid iron by passing a stream of air through
Fact 15: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer designed
a large, pear-shaped
receptacle, with holes at the bottom to enable the injection of compressed air.
He called his contraption a converter.
The Bessemer converter was filled with molten pig iron and compressed air was
blown through the molten metal which was emptied of carbon and silicon in just a
Fact 16: Who invented Steel? The Bessemer Process made steel by blasting
compressed air through molten iron to burn out excess carbon and impurities.
Fact 17: Who invented Steel? The Bessemer Process had a few 'teething
problems' as it did not remove phosphorus from the pig iron, making the steel
excessively brittle. The initial Bessemer process could therefore only be used
on pig iron made from scarce and expensive phosphorus-free ores.
Fact 18: Who invented Steel? Improvements were made to the process
to resolve the problem but industries were sceptical about his invention.
Fact 19: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer therefore decided to open his
own steel making plant which went on to produce steel at prices considerably
less than other manufacturers.
Fact 20: Who invented Steel? Henry Bessemer was knighted by Queen
Victoria on June 26, 1879 for his contribution to science. Later that year Sir
Henry Bessemer was made a fellow of the Royal Society.
Fact 21: Who invented Steel? Sir Henry Bessemer died on March 15, 1898
and was buried in West Norwood Cemetery in South London. Between 1838 and 1883
he had patented 129 inventions but his name goes down in history as the inventor
of the Bessemer Process.
Fact 22: John Deere (1804 - 1886) invented the
Steel-Plow in 1837 and Harry Brearley (1871 – 1948) invented stainless-steel
in 1913. Joseph Glidden patented his steel Barbed Wire
on May 12, 1874 and steel-frame Skyscrapers were
invented in 1884 by the American
inventor William Le Baron Jenney