The Differences Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are different both in chemistry and in the way they are used. There are a few key differences that can be used to distinguish between the two types.

1. Iron Content

The defining difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals is in their iron content. Both types may be pure or alloys. In general, ferrous metals contain iron. The very word ferrous comes from the Latin word for iron, ferrum. This is the reason iron is given the abbreviation Fe in the periodic table of elements. They may be cast iron, steel, or another type of iron-containing metal. Stainless steel is a common form of ferrous metal. Non-ferrous metals, on the other hand, do not contain any iron. These metals may be raw metals, purified metals, or alloys. Common non-ferrous metals include aluminum, copper, tin, and precious metals like gold and silver.

2. Magnetism

Have you ever noticed that the same magnet that sticks to your stainless steel refrigerator does not have any attraction to your gold ring? If so, you have discovered another general difference between ferrous and nonferrous metals. Ferrous metals are usually magnetic while nonferrous metals are not. This property allows the two types of metals to be identified and sorted easily.

The reason for this is that iron is a very polar molecule. The electrons in its atomic ring are not symmetrical. When iron encounters a magnetic field, its electrons are pulled to one sign of the atom. This creates the attraction between ferrous metals and magnets. Non-ferrous metals generally are only attracted to a magnet when an electrical field is run through them, which polarizes their electrons.

3. Oxidation

Another key feature of ferrous metals is that they can be oxidized, which we commonly call rusting. Because of the polarity of iron, it is highly likely to lose an electron to other polar molecules such as water. This makes the iron atom more positive, and thus more likely to bond to the oxygen in water, creating iron (III) oxide. Iron (III) oxide is the powdery red metal we call rust.

Some ferrous metals, such as stainless steel, do not rust. This is because they have been combined with a nonferrous metal that balances the iron atom and makes it less likely to lose an electron and begin the process of forming rust. Nonferrous metals do not rust.

4. Tensile Strength

A last distinguishing feature of ferrous metals is that they usually have very high tensile strength. Steel, for example, is one of the strongest metals in the world. Tensile strength is the ability to undergo a great deal of force without breaking or deforming. This is due to a mixture of strength and flexibility. While there are some very strong non-ferrous metals, such as titanium, few metals are as capable of bearing weight or undergoing force as iron alloys.

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are very different because they have different atomic chemistry and interact with their environment in unique ways. Both types of metal are important to the modern world and used in a variety of ways.

The Evolution Of Green Steel

The American steel industry has existed since the first colonies were established in the United States. Iron was a valuable resource mined and smelted by blacksmiths prior to the Industrial Revolution. American colonists crafted many tools from iron such as Cooking pots, utensils, axes, and plows. Iron has always been forged by small groups of blacksmiths. (more…)

Construction Industry Trends: What to Expect in 2018

The growth of the construction industry has been increasing ever since 2011. The PRNewswire has projected that the global construction industry is expected to grow from 2010’s US $7.4 trillion to $10.3 trillion by 2020. As much as growth is projected to grow in the coming years, there are underlying issues like labor shortages that hinder this growth plan. How will the labor positions be filled? (more…)

American Steel Industry: 2017 In Review

This year was great for the Steel Industry in the United States, and it seems that the conditions will only continue to improve in 2018 as well. The economic and financial situations that Steel Manufacturing companies take part in have been greatly improved, as have prospects for increases in employment, improvements in technology, and a boost in profits and wages.

President Donald Trump expressed his concern for the well-being of several manufacturing industries throughout the United States, especially the Steel Industry. China has long been exploiting our country and damaging the Steel Industry by flooding our market with cheap, mass produced steel, reducing the demand for American made steel. This, having led to a decrease in wages, jobs, and steel production stateside, was quickly put to an end under the new administration.

The President’s words and actions resulted in new tariffs on imported steel, cutting down the overseas competition and encouraging consumers to purchase steel produced in the United States. Even before these new policies were implemented, the voice of our leader had resulted in steel stocks rising and greatly improving consumer confidence.

It was projected that nearly 48,000 steel production jobs were lost between the year 2000 to 2016. Those figures are steadily rising and are expected to continue, even with improvements in automation and steel producing technologies, as demand for high quality steel throughout the United States will continue to grow. The United States expects to improve infrastructure by investing $1 Trillion in construction over the next 10 years. Building repairs, new bridges, road work, and most other infrastructure based work requires the use of steel, and it is all coming from the United States according the new administration.

Growth in infrastructural improvements, production of new businesses, increases in home and building development, and the steel required to build the anticipated border wall, are all factors pointing to growth and economic improvements in the American Steel Production Industry. Some of the biggest plants, near the East Coast, Mid-West, and especially throughout Pennsylvania, are all being incentivized, whether directly or indirectly, to improve their logistics, develop bigger and more advanced foundries and factories, as well as hire more individuals to meet the high demand.

This competing market will no longer be fighting with budget cuts and loss of business as a result of mass imported steel, but will continue to competitively improve technologies, hire and train the smartest and hardest working specialists and workers, and increase wages to attract the best employees possible to this vital industry.

The Steel Industry often includes stock options and profit shares to their employees, meaning that as their industry improves, so too do the wages of their employees. This led an unprecedented amount of blue-collar and logistical workers from Steel plants all around the United States to support and vote for President Donald Trump in 2016. Their voices were heard and their industry is now thriving as a result of the policies that were recommended to the President by the hard working Steel workers of America.

The outlook is strong; America will continue to invest in and grow its steel industry. 2018 will see a further rise in employment, wages, steel production, and technological improvements to our steel industry and infrastructure as a result of higher quality steel being made right here in the United States.

The Current State of the British Steel Industry

The steel industry in the United Kingdom has had a tough time, especially in the past few years. In fact, the closure of SSI Redcar Steelworks in October 2015 prompted calls of “save our steel industry.” When Tata laid-off workers in 2016 pundits said, the entire industry was officially in a “death spiral.”

Two factors put the hurt on the centuries-old industry in England. Rising energy costs and cheap imports, primarily from China, made producing the product too expensive. Last year the government in Britain, for the first time, voted to protect the industry. Whether their actions are enough to bring steel roaring back to life is not known yet.

An Old Line Industry Has Been Hit Hard by Foreign Competition

Steel in the United Kingdom, like in other parts of the world, was an integral industry that built much of the country’s infrastructure while providing high-paying jobs to locals. As imports rose, layoffs and losses mounted, which caused a reduction in investment in local steel production capacity. Those acts caused a shrinkage in revenues which could be seen as a “death spiral” unless there’s an introduction of positive actions to reverse the bleeding.

The current scene is vastly different from the 20th century when hundreds of thousands of British workers made steel. The high cost of energy, much of which is because of “green levies” imposed by the government has pushed the industry to the brink. Steel is a commodity item, which means that higher prices result in lower sales. With those smaller shipments of units come the loss of jobs. Even worse, as the prospects decline across the board, there’s little to any money for investment or reinvestment.

To put the current sorry state of affairs of the British steel industry in perspective, it’s worth mentioning Big Ben. This iconic British landmark is currently undergoing a massive renovation involving steel, most of which are from outside of the country! With thousands laid off in the past few years and prospects looking so bleak, it’s no surprise that this renovation project is raising ire. In the past, countries considered steel output to be of paramount success for the country. Now, even the most likely jobs to benefit from local steel are going to foreign firms.

Is There a Political Solution?

Whether the government will eventually respond to the requests of the steel industry to level the playing field remains to be seen. The energy costs have been a hurdle that has been nearly impossible to overcome. A commitment to “eco-friendliness” has left old-school industries like the steel business reeling.

For their part, members of parliament have maintained they work for the best interests of British workers and the steel producing companies. Still, there is a massive problem that continues to happen, and there is little sign it will be clearing up soon. The construction industry has become dependent on cheap steel, and few companies are willing to pay more for a local version. Without some protectionist scheme in place, there’s a high probability that the industry will continue to shed jobs.

Steel industry representatives are likely to push for a political resolution. The U.S. has enacted protectionist policies to protect steel suppliers, and Britain has begun the process of doing the same. Critics of the Chinese steel industry have long complained of “dumping” practices which artificially lower the costs of steel at the expense of local suppliers. As losses continue to mount it seems like British players will continue to accelerate demands for some help from Parliament. Without it, the downhill trend may continue unabated.