Steel Heroes - Dr John Edward Stead

  • 1851 - 1923
  • FRS, FCS, DSc, D Met, FIC,
  • Bessemer Medallist 1901,
  • President CIE 1894-6
  • President ISI 1920-1
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Borough Analyst
  • Honorary Life Member of AIME

  • Perhaps the most significant chemist-metallurgist in British 19th century iron and steelmaking, and a Consultant of international standing
  • Awarded Doctorates from three different Universities (Leeds, Sheffield, and Victoria University of Manchester)
  • Co-authored a book in 1904, “Microscopic Analysis of Metals” by Floris Osmond and J E Stead.
  • Published 84 scientific papers, of which 39 were in the Journal of the Iron and Steel Institution
  • Stead was best known for his work into the characteristics of phosphoric ironstone.  Cleveland ironstone contains 0.5% P.  The micro-constituent Fe3P was named Steadite in recognition of his work on the Iron Phosphorous system.


He is also credited with suggesting that during the basic Bessemer steelmaking process, prolonging the air blast through the metal after the oxidation of all the carbon would result in removing the Phosphorous.
Stead was instrumental in the founding of the Constantine College (now Teesside University), and the Cleveland Technical Institute (now the Cleveland Scientific Institution)

In January 1916, Stead wrote a letter to Lloyd George, then Minister of Munitions, regarding the Sulphur and Phosphorous levels in Munition shell cases.  Britain was unnecessarily restricting these and using a difficult Acid steelmaking process. 
The National Archives at Kew, contain detailed correspondence between Stead and the MOD, who were unwilling to change the process.  After 15 months, Basic Open Hearth steelmaking was allowed, and S & P levels were raised to 0.08% (from 0.05%).  This had the result of increasing supply of shell cases, and reducing the cost.


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