Industrial processes

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Steelworks of Italy in 1958

Industrial processes are procedures involving chemical, physical, electrical, or mechanical steps to aid in the manufacturing of an item or items, usually carried out on a very large scale. Industrial processes are the key components of heavy industry.

Chemical processes by main basic material[edit]

Certain chemical process yield important basic materials for society, e.g., (cement, steel, aluminum, and fertilizer). However, these chemical reactions contribute to climate change by emitting carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, through chemical reactions, as well as through the combustion of fossil fuels to generate the high temperatures needed to reach the activation energies of the chemical reactions.

Cement (the paste within concrete)[edit]

  • CalcinationLimestone, which is largely composed of fossilized calcium carbonate (CaCO3), breaks down at high temperatures into useable calcium oxide (CaO) and carbon dioxide gas (CO2), which gets released as a by-product. This chemical reaction, called calcination, figures most prominently in creating cement (the paste within concrete). The reaction is also important in providing calcium oxide to act as a chemical flux (removal of impurities) within a blast furnace.
CaCO3(s) → CaO(s) + CO2(g)


  • Smelting – Inside a blast furnace, carbon monoxide (CO) is released by combusting coke (a high-carbon derivative of coal) and removes the undesired oxygen (O) within ores. CO2 is released as a by-product, carrying away the oxygen and leaving behind the desired pure metal. Most prominently, iron smelting is how steel (largely iron with small amounts of carbon) is created from mined iron ore and coal.
Fe2O3(s) + 3 CO(g) → 2 Fe(s) + 3 CO2(g)[1]


  • Hall–Héroult process – Aluminium oxide (Al2O3) is smelted with coke (C) in a high-temperature electrolysis reaction, yielding the desired pure aluminium (Al) and a mixture of CO and CO2.
Al2O3(s) + 3 C(s) → 2 Al(s) + 3 CO(g)
2 Al2O3(s) + 3 C(s) → 4 Al(s) + 3 CO2(g)


CH4(g) + H2O(g) → CO(g) + 3 H2(g)
CO(g) + H2O(g) → H2(g) + CO2(g)
N2(g) + 3 H2(g) → 2 NH3(g)

Other chemical processes[edit]


The availability of electricity and its effect on materials gave rise to several processes for plating or separating metals.



Iron and steel[edit]


The physical shaping of materials by forming their liquid form using a mould


Many materials exist in an impure form. Purification or separation provides a usable product.


Distillation is the purification of volatile substances by evaporation and condensation

Additive manufacturing[edit]

In additive manufacturing, material is progressively added to the piece until the desired shape and size are obtained.

Petroleum and organic compounds[edit]

The nature of an organic molecule means it can be transformed at the molecular level to create a range of products.

Organized by product[edit]

A list by process:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Blast Furnace". Science Aid. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2007.