Iron Silica and Its Importance in Metal-Making

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iron silica is an important mineral for the production of prealloys, such as magnesium ferrosilicon, used in the manufacture of ductile iron. It is also an essential component of the Pidgeon process, which is used to produce magnesium from dolomite.

Silica has a significant effect on the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) performance of iron-based catalysts. Its interaction with Fe species changes the structural and chemical properties of iron oxide phases and increases the dispersion and aggregation of active iron particles. The chemical effects decrease the FTS activity and the selectivity of heavy hydrocarbons and olefins, while the structural effects stabilize the Fe carbide formation in the FTS reaction.

Silicon is a very abundant element in the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. It is the main raw material in the sintering of iron ore and the base of tin, chromium, and copper alloys. It is also a useful byproduct of the industrial synthesis of trichlorosilane, a synthetic chemical that is widely used in metal-making.

Several members of the orthopyroxene family, including forsterite and fayalite, are known to contain up to 10 percent of iron in their crystal structure. Forsterite has x = 0.2 to 0.7, while fayalite has x between 0.8 and 1.0.

Increasing the iron content of olivine, a common magnesium-iron silicate, is an efficient way to increase its density. This increase causes a reduction of seismic velocities inversely proportional to the square root of the increasing density. This effect is most pronounced in the Earth’s D” layer, which is a high-density iron-rich zone extending from the metallic core to the lowermost mantle.