Talk:Bessemer process

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Such steel when rolled into bars was sold at £50 to £60 a ton. The earliest Bessemer converters produced steel for £7 a ton, although they priced it initially at around £40 a ton.

Conversion into approximate modern prices might be interesting. What was a pound sterling worth in 1855? --Brion
You can work it out from the figures already in the article and the reference they are linked to. No point adding umpteen conversions over the article as it is clutter. - Sitush (talk) 15:50, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

William Kelly[edit]

I have deleted a line that mentions this man. The editor claimed that Kelly had not patented his process, but other sources on the 'Net say that he had done so, and was later forced by declining fortunes to sell his patent to Henry Bessemer. Still others say that Kelly managed to convince authorities that he had been developing his process in secret, beginning from a time before Bessemer came out with his.

Therefore, I think it really is going a bit far to state flatly that Kelly invented it but didn't get the credit. It is, after all, a bit unclear.

And it's going even further to say that Bessemer stole the idea from Kelly, as one source I found on the 'Net said.

Added back mention of Kelly. Encyclopedias Britannica and Americana, along with many other verifiable sources credit Kelly as having independently discovered the process of blowing air through molten pig iron to burn out the carbon and improve the iron or convert it to steel. There were two ways to protect an invention, which Kelly, a college trained metallurgist, had been working on since 1847. One way was to get a patent, and be subject to patent infringement and the other was to keep the process a trade secret, which Kelly did. When Bessemer suddenly discovered the process and patented it in Britain and the US, Kelly also applied for and received a patent. US courts granted Kelly a renewal and not Bessemer. The patents were licensed by the same steel producers in the US, so there was not a big patent battle bewteen rival steel works. Bessemer got his name on the process, and most of the royalties. Kely later claimed English workers at his Kentucky iron works had relayed details on the process to Bessemer, who in his autobiography said he knew very little of iron metallurgy in 1854.Edison 22:31, 6 August 2006 (UTC)


There needs to be a paragraph explaining why the Bessemer process is no longer used; the article has a link to Linz-Donawitz process, which is a redirect, but it's not apparent in this text why Bessemer's invention is now of historical interest only. -Ashley Pomeroy 14:42, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Date Patented[edit]

I have not edited the date, though I am currently looking at a US History book that says it was patented in 1856. I have found at least one error in this book before so this may be the case, but could someone please find a trusted source? Obviously this US History book had a different source, and I can't determine which is more accurate.

"personally i thought this process was still used?"


The offsite link is dead, and the site is impossible to navigate when Javascript is turned off. Perhaps it should be pulled. -David Landgren 2006-07-18

Hot Air[edit]

What kind of compressor provided the hot air? Did the air come through the axle? Did it bubble? -- 12:45, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Andrew Carnegie[edit]

this is completely off this topic but wasn't there also a guy names Andrew Carnegie or something like that who helped introduce the Bessemer process? He made a fortune off of the making of steel. He was one of the richest men of his time. Very generous and giving also. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:46, 25 April 2007

I added a section on the introduction of the Bessemer process in America, and mentioned Carnegie's involvement.


Google has never heard of this word! Citation needed. Why would anyone try to double the efficiency of the long-obsolete Bessemer process in 2007? Suggest removing the sentence unless it's cited/referenced. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:53, 8 January 2007 (UTC).


Our article tacit knowing mentions a lawsuit filed against Bessemer by patent licensees who couldn't get his process to work. Is this for real? Should it be covered here? --FOo 22:53, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

A biography I read of Bessemer last year said that the process worked great with the ore from some locales, but in other regions the ore had different impurities and the quality of the product was lower, until research showed how to handle the impurities (such as a special lining material in the vessels to react with the impurities (whatever they were). Lawsuits sound plausible. But it should be researched and sourced to a reliable source. Edison 06:09, 3 September 2007 (UTC)


I don't know whether this is the right place to add this, but the Bessemer process as I understand it was started at Whitecliff near Coleford, near to where I live, and an old Barn (shed) that use to exist at the top of Cinder Hill Coleford, Gloucestershire, also was used for experientation. A housing estate built some years later, is called Bessemer Close. The name Mushet (Robert) is linked with the early smeltering processes. R.M. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:11, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Robert Mushet's Father, David, briefly (6 months) ran the Whitecliff Furnace, but it ceased production in 1816, some 39 years before the Bessemer Process was invented. The experiments he carried out in the barn by his house, and then later at Darkhill, were sucessful in producing refined iron direct from the blast furnace, without the need for a separate refinery. The process did actually produce some steel, but it was unrelated to the Bessemer Process.Obscurasky (talk) 18:15, 31 July 2009 (UTC) gay

Patent Battles[edit]

The Henry Bessemer page has an interesting sub-section, in its Bessemer Process section, called 'Patent Battles'. It needs expanding/citations, but I think it would be worth lifting for inclusion in this page too. Any thoughts? Obscurasky (talk) 23:29, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

'Preserved' examples?[edit]

According to the caption of one of the Geograph pictures of the Sheffield example, there are only three converters left in the world -- of which this article illustrates two. It would be appropriate to mention this fact (if true) and indicate where the examples are. It would also not be unreasonable to write a little history on each.

How many converters were built? 10's, 100's, 1000's?

EdJogg (talk) 00:11, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

History Reverts[edit]

I've reverted some of the information added to the History section by - Bessemer did loose tens of thousands of pounds trying to find the solution to initial problems with the Bessemer Process, but it was not due to his lack of scientific training as he spent the money employing some of the country's best scientists.

I removed the reference to the 'introduction of high pressure air' from Robert Forester Mushet's solution, as this was already part of the Bessemer Process, not an inovation by Mushet.

I removed 'correctly conducted' from 'correctly conducted scientifically valid' as for something to be 'scientifically valid' it goes without saying that it must also be 'correctly conducted'. Obscurasky (talk) 12:22, 11 October 2009 (UTC)


What is it about this page that attracts so much vandalism? Have people got it in for Henry Bessemer? Obscurasky (talk) 22:21, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

It's probably on some schools syllabus at the moment. Seen the same problems in batches on other historical pages. Just have to keep smiling and reverting. Sigh. EdJogg (talk) 23:03, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

how does the air get in there?[edit]

is it blown in fron holes near the bottom? CorvetteZ51 (talk) 11:45, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

The information you are looking for is in this section of the article. In short, yes, it is blown in through holes in the bottom of the converter. The Seeker 4 Talk 12:40, 2 November 2009 (UTC)


I have checked citation footnote 11 and appreciate that the source referred to does indeed say that Dowlais was the first business to license Bessemer's process. However, pp.175-76 of Bessemer's | Autobiography says that the first was W & J Galloway & Sons & that they then relinquished their rights in order to go into partnership with him in his Sheffield steelworks. How do we square this circle? Sitush (talk) 15:39, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

No response to my query above but I would add that I've now found more sources suggesting that Dowlais was not the first and, furthermore, I note that the source for Dowlais says "This is a first, incomplete draft of the paper." I therefore believe the statement in this article to be incorrect. - Sitush (talk) 14:11, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
While I don't know the answer to the question, I would say that the autobiography does look more credible than the current source. As such, I would support changing the text. Wizard191 (talk) 20:15, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I have changed it now - there is lots of support available from historians about the point but, of course, they may be relying on the autobiography themselves. I'll come back to this article when I have more time as it really doesn't do its subject justice (nor does that for Bessemer the man). - Sitush (talk) 15:23, 2 April 2011 (UTC)


The initial article puzzles me. Pig Iron from the blast furnace was, and still is, shipped around the world as bulk cargo in large blocks.

In the article it is clearly stated that "molten iron" is poured into the converter for the "blow". So just where was the Pig Iron again rendered molten so that it could be poured into the converter. Are there a couple of lines missing?

Could the Bessemer Converter have been a more refined version of the blast furnace using coke mixed with Pig Iron to render the Pig Iron molten for the "blow"?AT Kunene (talk) 12:44, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Does this article assist you at all? There are other sections on the same site (steel, cold rolling etc) If it does help, then maybe this WP article needs amending slightly. - Sitush (talk) 13:08, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


The section on "Importance" states:

"Industrial steel also made possible the building of giant turbines and generators thus making the harnessing of water and steam power possible. The introduction of the large scale steel production process paved the way to mass industrialisation as observed in the 19th-20th centuries.[citation needed]"

But water and steam power were harnessed effectively long before mass produced steel. Water power has been used since prehistoric times, and there is a nominally 100hp water wheel made of iron and wood running at Quarry Bank Mill. Richard Trevithick pioneered high pressure steam power long before mass produced steel: 1801 for the first passenger carrying trip by high pressure steam loco.

Moreover, the British industrial revolution began in the 18th century: the Bessemer converter was a product of the process of mass industrialization, not a cause of it.

Surely this should be re-written or perhaps just deleted? - steel was an important part of the process of mass industrialization, not a cause.

I'll probably be deleting it before long. Have had it in my sights since my last editing session on this article & I intend to return to do some large scale work on the whole thing. The section you refer to incredibly POV and has huge holes in it, which is why I inserted the citation requests last month. I think it best to give someone a chance to prove their point but I'd be astonished if they can. - Sitush (talk) 07:53, 22 April 2011 (UTC)


"Bessemer process for railroad ties and quadrupled his production" Ties are wood?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 8 June 2016 (UTC)

Fixed; they can be made of steel, per the railroad tie article. Graham87 12:24, 9 June 2016 (UTC)

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Göran Fredrik Göransson[edit]

Having recently visited Sandviken in Sweden, I'm surprised to see no mention of Göran Fredrik Göransson's role in improving the Bessemer process [1]. I'm aware that this is Swedish view, but there certainly seems support for this from non-Swedish sources - [2], [3], [4]. Mikenorton (talk) 09:48, 17 August 2017 (UTC)

What were Göransson's improvements to Bessemer's process here?
There are three Bessemer processes: Bessemer's original, which only worked for Bessemer and failed for his licensees. Mushet's improvement with the use of spiegeleisen, and Gilchhrist-Thomas' basic process. As is well known, Bessemer's first process only worked for Swedish low-phosphorus ores. AIUI, Göransson didn't need to improve Bessemer's process, because as a Swede, he was already using an ore for which it was suitable. He used the process in Sweden, he popularised it there, but he didn't need to change it, as Mushet, Gilchrist and Thomas did. The only change Göransson did make were some fairly minor ones around the blowing tuyeres. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:08, 17 August 2017 (UTC)
Hi, @Mikenorton:, I'm with you on this one. It was indeed Göransson who made the first commercial pour using a small version of Bessemer's converter. Bessemer recommended a high pressure blast with small tuyeres, but he was wrong. Göransson worked out that it needed a low-pressure, high volume of air blown through a large tuyere area, and it was in Sweden at the Edsken works in Gästrikland that the first commercial Bessemer pour was made. Chronology of iron and steel, p. 147. You simply wouldn't guess this by reading HB's autobiography. This book (History of the manufacture of iron, pp. 404-5) contains a letter from Göransson to a university professor who asked for details, (forwarded to the author) describing his experiments, and says he made 30 tons of Bessemer steel, 15 of which Bessemer managed to turn into to knives, scissors, razors etc.: MinorProphet (talk) 06:10, 9 April 2018 (UTC) [the above not-so-silently amended for accuracy... MinorProphet (talk) 19:13, 9 April 2018 (UTC)]
@Andy Dingley:, I feel that this article could do with a bit of an overhaul, perhaps starting with your concise summary of the three processes, plus the two main impurities (sulphur and phosphorous) they were designed to remove. Bessemer didn't invent the improvements to his process to make it commercially viable, but only profited from them. I've collected a number of decent sources dealing with this subject.

1. 1855 - Original patent.

  • Bessemer was using high-quality, low-phosphorous ores from Blaenavon, the Forest of Dean, and Cumberland, all with enough manganese to remove the iron sulphide. He slowly de-carburised the melt until the right amount of carbon remained, getting results by eye and experience. Lesser ores in the hands of others gave bad results.

2. 1858 - Acid Bessemer process, the result of two separate lines of enquiry. Worked only with with ores containing sulphur but with lo-phosphorous.

  • Göransson made the changes to the tuyeres, as mentioned above. He was using Hoop L bar from the Dannemora mines, among the best in the world at the time: some of the ores there are (or were) very special, almost phosphorous-free magnetite and containing enough manganese to remove the (low) sulphur without any other additions to the melt.
  • Mushet, with his experiments with spiegeleisen, (following on from his dad in the Forest of Dean, and from Josiah Heath) showed how to to remove sulphur from other sulphurous, non-phosphoric ores which didn't contain enough manganese. The idea was to remove all the carbon, and then add it back with spiegel which also removed the sulphur as manganese sulphide.
  • Although Bessemer was obviously quite talented, his autobiography is wholly self-aggrandising, and somewhat unreliable IMO: he mentions Mushet and Göransson once only each, and reluctantly at that, skating very swiftly over the technical details of what they achieved. Heath and Mushet were both ripped off over their patents (the latter by the Ebbw Vale ironworks, who were the first to license Bessemer's patent) and both died poor.

3. 1879 (twenty years later) - Gilchrist-Thomas Basic Bessemer process using limestone, as in the old Catalan forge. Works with hi-phosphorous, lo-sulphur ores: the limestone (calcium carbonate) reacts with the phosphorus, forming a slag of calcium phosphate (an early example of industrially-produced fertiliser.)

Interestingly, titanium (eg in ilmenite) was able to be removed during the old puddling process, but not in the later processes.

A section dealing with the different types of iron ore and their suitability for steel-making might also be useful. MinorProphet (talk) 06:10, 9 April 2018 (UTC)

Having had another look at the article, I think the various bits of history could do with rearranging. I feel that the Western and Far Eastern Bessemer-style techniques could do with separating, they were developed independently and didn't influence each other AFAICS. The history of steel-making before Bessemer could then be brought logically(?) together with the story of our Henry's discovery.
Outline of proposed additions/rearrangement
  • Lede: The three Bessemer processes, and the reasons for their development: sulphur & phosphorus, the two main contaminants of iron ore.
  • Iron ore: - deposits, types, iron/steel-making qualities & suitability
  • Contaminants: - sulphur, phosphorus, titanium etc.

Rearranged existing sections follow:

  • Operation: - 3 methods, each developed for varying qualities of iron ore available at the time.
  • History of steel-making in Far East:
  • History of steel-making in Europe before Bessemer:
  • Development of Bessemer process from 1855 to 1879: - expanded as above
    • HB's original work & patent battles - best quality ore
    • Acid process - Göransson and Mushet - for sulphurous ores
    • Alkali process - for phosphoric ores. The Thomas-Gilchrist process kept going longer because the best iron ore suitable for Bessemer steel by the acid process was all mined out, I think.
  • Bessemer steel in the USA
  • Legacy, etc.: >MinorProphet (talk) 09:20, 13 April 2018 (UTC)

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