- 1811 - 1891
- Bessemer Gold Medal, 1876
In 1848 he made experiments on a sample of ‘spiegeleisen’, an alloy of iron, carbon, and manganese, manufactured in Rhenish Prussia. The results were of no immediate practical value, but they ultimately became of great importance in connection with the invention of the pneumatic steelmaking process by Sir Henry Bessemer (1813–1898), to improve malleability of the steel.
In 1857 Mushet was the first to make durable rails of steel rather than cast iron
Between 1859 and 1861 Mushet took out about twenty patents for the manufacture of alloys of iron and steel with titanium, tungsten, and chromium.
In 1868 he found that the addition of finely powdered wolfram ore (tungsten) produced a steel which did not require anything but cooling in the open air to give it a cutting edge hard enough for lathe and other similar tools. This self-hardening steel—the first specialized tool steel for engineers' tools—contained about 7 per cent tungsten and made possible a 50 per cent faster cutting speed.
After an abortive attempt to manufacture this steel through his Titanic Steel and Iron Company of Coleford, Mushet (who decided not to patent tungsten tool steel, but kept the formula secret) licensed the product to Samuel Osborn & Co. of Sheffield. Osborns acquired the sole right to manufacture R. Mushet's Special Steel (RMS).
He is usually regarded as the first important pioneer of alloy steels.