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Iron (Fe) is among the most abundant elements in the universe comprising approximately 5% of the Earth’s crust. It is a silvery-white or silvery-gray element that is malleable, ductile, and has high melting and boiling points. The major producers of iron in the world include Brazil, Germany, the United States, India, and Canada. The element is extracted from ores such as hematite, taconite, magnetite, limonite, trihydrate, and siderite.
Iron has numerous applications. It is used in industries to manufacture automobile parts, nuclear reactors, utensils, household appliances, electrical equipment, and shipping containers. It is an important component of haemoglobin that is vital for transportation of oxygen in the human body.
Iron is silvery-white or silvery-gray in color, ductile, malleable, and magnetic (Hasan, 2004). It can be transformed into thin sheets and wires for several industrial and household uses. Its high tensile strength means that it can be bended, stretched, and rolled without breaking. Its high boiling of 1,536°C and melting point of 2861°C differentiate it from other elements (Hasan, 2004). Iron is highly reactive and readily reacts with oxygen to form different forms of oxides that have different chemical and physical properties. In addition, it readily reacts with water in different physical states to produce hydrogen gas. Iron is hard and heavy owing to its density of 7.87g/cm3 (Hasan, 2004). It is not naturally radioactive but six of its isotopes are. Two of them are widely used in the medical field for several purposes.
Iron is among the most abundant elements in the universe comprising approximately 5% of the Earth’s crust (Hill & Holman, 2000). It is mainly found in the form of oxides and banded iron formations. In addition, it is abundant in rocky planets, stars, asteroids, and meteorites. Banded iron formations are geological formations that comprise several layers of iron oxide because the element cannot exist independently.
The main sources of iron include ores such as hematite, taconite, magnetite, limonite, trihydrate, and siderite (Hill & Holman, 2000). In the United States, some of these ores are found in the Mesabi Range near Lake Superior. Other countries that have iron resources include Canada, Russia, India, Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Germany (Hill & Holman, 2000). The United States, Russia, and Brazil are among the largest producers. In Canada, iron is majorly produced in Ontario and Quebec with largest geological source in Canada situated in the Labrador Trough. In 2009, Canadian production was estimated at 31.1 million tons while in 2010 it was estimated at 35 million tons (Canadian Iron Ore Market, 2013).
Industrial uses of iron include construction of buildings, manufacture of machinery and industrial equipment, rail transportation, manufacture of utensils, electrical equipment, and household appliances (Lide, 2003). In addition, it is used in making containers, packaging, and shipping. It is also widely used in oil and gas industries. Iron is an important component of haemoglobin which is important in the human body for transportation of oxygen.
Human beings get the element from foods such a red meat, eggs, raisins, pork, seafood, apricots, poultry, and beans (Lide, 2003). Moreover, it is important in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and certain enzymes required for metabolism (Lide, 2003). Iron is an important component in the production of energy. For instance, it is used in the Fischer-Tropsch process that involves conversion of carbon monoxide to hydrocarbons that are then used to produce lubricants and fuels (Lide, 2003). In addition, it is critical in the construction of nuclear reactors used in the energy sector.
Canadian Iron Ore Market. (2013). Web.
Hasan, H. (2004). Iron. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.
Hill, G., & Holman, J. (2000). Chemistry in Context. London: Nelson Thornes.
Lide, D. R. (2003). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. New York: CRC Press.