Making a Blast Furnace for Melting Iron

Idea Generation

What is this project about?

Looking for more support narrowing down your idea? Try using the idea matrix on this page.

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Making an affordable blast furnace from common materials

What do you want to get out of this project?

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A functional furnace that I can use for making cast-iron parts

where did the skills go? we are taking skills out of the idea generation process, in an attempt to make projects more career-focused. If you want to get leveled-up for a project, share it with the appropriate guide or faculty member for feedback upon completion.

Guiding Question

Turn your idea above into a guiding question.

Check out some resources on how to write a guiding question here.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of using clay bricks for a furnace?

Production

What will it take for you to complete this project?

Use the table below to set your own timeline for deliverables, keep in mind when your final work product is due at the end of the cycle.

Work Product Deliverables

MilestoneDateDoneColumn
Get supplies (bricks, fittings, etc.)
Construct the Furnace
Test the furnace on low-melting metals (brass)
Test the furnace on iron
Unable, the furnace destroyed its lid
Final Work Product + Notion Page Due
Jun 29, 2021
Last Day of Project Cycle
Jul 1, 2021

Exploration

Use this space to take notes, keep track of your sources, or conversations you have with people about this project.

6/2/21: I got all (or rather most) of the bricks, and here is the furnace assembled!  It still needs a lid, but I bought the hardware store out of bricks, so I have to wait until they get more in before I can make a lid.
6/2/21: I got all (or rather most) of the bricks, and here is the furnace assembled! It still needs a lid, but I bought the hardware store out of bricks, so I have to wait until they get more in before I can make a lid.

6/8/21: I've decided to get a roll of ceramic fibre insulation to line the furnace with, and also to use as a much lighter lid.

6/9/21: This is the blast-pipe for supplying air to the fire, hopefully in a mostly symmetrical way.
6/9/21: This is the blast-pipe for supplying air to the fire, hopefully in a mostly symmetrical way.
6/9/21: Here is my old blower arrangement, which will be getting replaced with a new blower as this one cannot spin fast enough to produce sufficient pressure, due to the homemade leather belt not staying on the pulleys at speed. In addition, my power supply cannot produce enough current to drive the blower at a high enough speed, it can be seen in the background topping out at around 15 volts at 5 amps, even though it was set for 30 volts. Removing the load from the blower by blocking the intake allowed it to run at about 20 volts, but at this speed the belt does not stay aligned reliably and slips, and often will come off entirely.
6/9/21: Here is my old blower arrangement, which will be getting replaced with a new blower as this one cannot spin fast enough to produce sufficient pressure, due to the homemade leather belt not staying on the pulleys at speed. In addition, my power supply cannot produce enough current to drive the blower at a high enough speed, it can be seen in the background topping out at around 15 volts at 5 amps, even though it was set for 30 volts. Removing the load from the blower by blocking the intake allowed it to run at about 20 volts, but at this speed the belt does not stay aligned reliably and slips, and often will come off entirely.
6/16/21: The new blower arrived, along with a speed controller.
6/16/21: The new blower arrived, along with a speed controller.
6/16/21: I made tools for moving the crucible around. The tongs on the right are for lifting it out of the furnace, and the circular thing on the left is for moving the crucible to the mold and pouring.
6/16/21: I made tools for moving the crucible around. The tongs on the right are for lifting it out of the furnace, and the circular thing on the left is for moving the crucible to the mold and pouring.
6/17/21: The dragon awakes! This is the first firing of the furnace, running on charcoal.
6/17/21: The dragon awakes! This is the first firing of the furnace, running on charcoal.
6/17/21: A view down inside the furnace during operation. The combustion is not quite symmetrical, it's hotter at the front (inlet side) than the back. This is caused by the holes in the blast-pipe being larger at the front. I will be enlarging the other holes soon.
6/17/21: A view down inside the furnace during operation. The combustion is not quite symmetrical, it's hotter at the front (inlet side) than the back. This is caused by the holes in the blast-pipe being larger at the front. I will be enlarging the other holes soon.
6/17/21: Here is the crucible a few minutes after being removed from the furnace.
6/17/21: Here is the crucible a few minutes after being removed from the furnace.

During the 6/17/21 test, the furnace managed to get hot enough to melt (yes, melt!) the ceramic fibre insulation, indicating temperatures of around 4000 degrees Fahrenheit! All the while, the outside of the furnace never got hotter than 200 degrees F, proving my theory that the hollow bricks insulate very well.

6/23/21: I ran the furnace for the first time with a lid, in this run it was being used to melt brass
6/23/21: I ran the furnace for the first time with a lid, in this run it was being used to melt brass
6/23/21: Here is the molten brass being poured into ingot molds
6/23/21: Here is the molten brass being poured into ingot molds
6/23/21: The lid unfortunately couldn't take the heat, I believe the temperature differential between the inward facing and outward facing sides was too great, and the resulting stresses caused it to bulge and eventually crack.
6/23/21: The lid unfortunately couldn't take the heat, I believe the temperature differential between the inward facing and outward facing sides was too great, and the resulting stresses caused it to bulge and eventually crack.

Embed your Work Product Here 👇🏽

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Add a short description and cover photo

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Work Product

Reflection

Reflect on this project cycle by answering the questions below.

The act of reflecting allows you to highlight the accomplishments and applications of your project. (questions courtesy of Powderhouse Studios)

Was your project meaningful?

Did this project matter? In what ways did it further your knowledge, force you to grow, or provide something useful?

Was your project ambitious?

Given what you already know, did this project challenge you in meaningful ways?

Was your project deep?

Did your project engage with powerful ideas or tools? Additionally, did you engage with the material in a deep sense (i.e. did you develop ownership over the ideas or tools)? Can you utilize these skills independently now?

Feedback

Use the pages below "QR Partner Feedback" and "Faculty Feedback" to find places for improvement.

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Advisor Feedback

Coming up with an Idea
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