How Steel Shaped the Modern-Day World

silver-jubilee-bridge-402943_960_720Steel is a metal alloy made of iron and carbon. It’s high tensile strength and low production cost make it ideal for use in construction. Furthermore, “stainless steel” contains special alloys that protect against rust and corrosion. This otherwise simply metal has changed nearly every aspect of the modern-day world, which we’re going to explore in today’s blog post.

Some people assume that steel is a relatively new metal, with production beginning in the last 200 years. Historians, however, believe that some of the earliest man-made productions of steel date back to 1800 BC. An archaeological site in Anatolia revealed steel items nearly 4,000 years ago. Steel weapons like the falcata were also used during this time.

The IHS Automotive reports that there are more than 253 million cars on U.S. roads and highways. The average age of these cars is 11.4 years. While cars are made of different materials, they consist mostly of steel. In fact, the average car contains 63% steel, making this metal an important part of our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

Steel is also used extensively in the production of bridges. Whether it’s a small overpass or a multi-mile bridge connecting two or more islands, steel is typically the preferred choice of material for this application. It’s strong, durable and resistant to corrosion — a combination of properties that simply aren’t found in other materials.

Here’s another fun and somewhat surprising fact: roughly 75% of all major appliances — washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, ovens — are made of steel.

Steel is also used to make water treatment and storage tanks. Without steel, other metals would have to be used for this application. And unfortunately, other metals are often susceptible to rust and corrosion, which is a prime concern when building water treatment and storage tanks.

One of the most commonly overlooked properties of steel is its ability to be recycled. According to Wikipedia, steel is the single most recycled material in the world, boasting an impressive recycling rate of over 60%. This means well over half of all steel is reused at some point in time. In the United States, more than 82,000,000 metric tones of steel was recycled in 2008.

As you see, steel has changed many aspects of our modern-day world. From bridges and buildings, to cars and appliances, this versatile metal alloy is used everywhere. And because it’s easily recycled, it’s also an Eco-friendly metal, more so than other metals.

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