Mackey, Phillip J. Noaranda Technology Centre, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada.
- Additional Readings
The branch of extractive metallurgy in which processes employing chemical reactions at elevated temperatures are used to extract metals from raw materials, such as ores and concentrates, and to treat recycled scrap metal. The use of heat for pottery making dates as far back as 3500–4000 BC, and is believed to have gradually led to the first high-temperature furnaces used for smelting copper. Small bowllike furnaces were used around 3500 BC for reducing oxidic copper ores mixed with charcoal at high temperatures (1100–1200°C; 2000–2200°F) to metallic copper. The historical metal ages show the development of metallurgy and the beginning of the practice and science of pyrometallurgy. The Chalcolithic Age (roughly 5000–2200 BC) led to the Bronze Age (approximately 3000–1300 BC), which gave way to the Iron Age (about 1000 BC to 400 AD). The techniques of pyrometallurgy were gradually perfected, especially during the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries as knowledge, mechanical equipment, and materials of construction improved. Pyrometallurgy continues to be the principal means of metal production.
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