MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: Has anyone made high grade steel from basalt lava rock?

Date: Wed Aug 11 13:39:04 1999
Posted By: Dr. Jeries Barghout, Post-doc/Fellow, Department of Materials, University of Oxford
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 934269993.Eg

Dear Jae

I have some information here for you that should at least resolve your 
question and hopefully get you your job.

Using several search engines and searching under lightweight steel I only 
found one steel manufacturer (BHP) that boasts an ultra-lightweight steel 
auto-body (URL
.au/review/review76_1/ulsab.htm ).  
Unfortunately I could not find out which car company is using it!  However 
I am sure if you contact BHP they could be of help.

Concerning the manufacture of the lightweight steel, BHP don't give any 
clues away about its composition and therefore I cannot directly inform you 
wether basalts are involved in its manufacture - however I can speculate.  
The main ingredients in making steel are iron ore, coal and 
limestone (URL
tml ).  The composition of 
basalts is predominately silica (Hawaiian basalts contain about 50% silica, 
10% each of iron, magnesium, calcium, about 15% aluminum, 2% titanium and 
2% sodium; URL
html ).  The high concentration of impurities in the basalts rules it out 
an addative in the manufacture of steel primarily because of its high 
impurity content.  The impurities added to the steel are controlled as to 
give desired properities eg stainless steel.  Therefore using an impure 
additive means production of a steel with unpredictable properties

As basalts are mainly composed of silica, which is the main constituent of 
glass.  It is possible that the 'steel/metal' that you remember a report on 
25 years ago is a glass/ceramic.  Below I have provided a brief discussion 
of the strength, density and transparency issues regarding basalts as 
glass/ceramic and a couple of URLS that show basalts used in glass/ceramic 
(a) Strength:  Although glass is not as strong as steel, when crystallised 
it forms very small grain size which gives it a very high strength greater 
than that of steel.
(b) Density:  The density of glass is 2.5 g/cm3 which is far lower than 
that of steel (7.5 g/cm3 for stainless and 7.85 g/cm3 for high-carbon) but 
comparable to that of aluminium, which is 2.71 g/cm3.
(c) Transparency:  Most glass is transparent unless coloured.  The 
colouring is achieved through adding impurities to the glass.  In the case 
of basalts there seems to be a lot of impurity contained and so it is 
expected that basalt glass would not be transparent.  However if is 
possible to purify the basalt in an effort to achieve a clear glass.
(d) Basalt Applications:
     Tiles URL
     Pipes URL

I hope my explanation above is of help and best of luck with your job.

Best Regards,

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