In this issue we present to you the peculiar field called Metallurgy . It is that subject that deals with metals occurring in the nature. To the uninitiated, metals are something that is excavated from the earth. But a knowledgeable immediately recollects that it is this field of engineering that makes possible the clever usage of all the things we use daily. Metallurgy in short is the process of extraction and refining of metals. It is a domain of materials science that deals with the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their inter – metallic compounds and mixtures called alloys.
The craft of metalworking is called Metallurgy. The production of metals involves the processing of ores to extract the metal and their mixture, sometimes with other elements to produce alloys. Metallurgy is subdivided into ferrous metallurgy and non-ferrous metallurgy. As you might know that ferrous is the scientific name of iron and hence ferrous metallurgy involves processes based on iron while non-ferrous metallurgy involves processes based on other metals where the iron compound is zero.
Do you know? The production of ferrous metals accounts for 95 percent of world metal production!
History of Metallurgy
Let us now dig a bit into our history to find out if our ancestors were aware of such a technology and use of metals. The history of metallurgy in the Indian subcontinent dates back to circa 3000 BC. Use of Metals and related concepts were mentioned in various early Vedic texts. Yes, one can find the Sanskrit term Ayas meaning metal in the Rig-Veda. Later in history, with the advent of the Mughals, the field has further improved the tradition of metal working.
So if you’re interested in pursuing a career researching and developing new alloys, there are several national colleges that offer both bachelor’s and master’s degree in Material science. Materials science is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the discovery and design of new materials. You might have heard of the term alloy wheels when referring to the spokes / wheels of latest bikes and cars, right. It is made possible by engineers specializing in this domain. Though it is a relatively new scientific field that involves studying materials, its roots date back to Bronze Age when crude metal was used. Slowly the field paced to its present form. You might have heard of the iron pillar built during the reign of the great emperor Ashoka. It stands tall till today without a modicum of corrosion or its signs. It is the perfect example of metallurgy.
Metallurgy incorporates fundamentals of physics and chemistry. It is the root of nano science technology. Metallurgy is also an important part of forensic sciences and engineering. When a machine breaks down, it is actually a fault of one of the components’ that lead to its breakdown. Hence this filed relates to the investigation of materials, products, structures that fail or do not function as intended who might cause mishaps both to personnel and/ or property. Do you know why it is not possible to achieve 100% efficiency when running an internal combustion engine such as a gas turbine? It is the material limitation and not human limitation that hinders achieving the said performance. Most pressing scientific problems that are faced today in industries are due to the limitations of the materials currently available. A breakthrough in this field is likely to have a significant impact on the future of technology!
Stay tuned to the next article in the series to learn more about the aptitude required to study metallurgy engineering and the places of study in India.