A blast furnace
is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting
to produce industrial metals, generally iron, but also others such as lead or copper.
In a blast furnace, fuel, ores, and flux (limestone) are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while a hot blast of air (sometimes with oxygen enrichment) is blown into the lower section of the furnace through a series of pipes called tuyeres, so that the chemical reactions take place throughout the furnace as the material moves downward. The end products are usually molten metal
phases tapped from the bottom
, and flue gases exiting from the top of the furnace. The downward flow of the ore
and flux in contact with an upflow of hot, carbon
monoxide-rich combustion gases is a countercurrent exchange and chemical reaction
In contrast, air furnaces (such as reverberatory furnaces) are naturally aspirated, usually by the convection of hot gases in a chimney flue. According to this broad definition, bloomeries for iron, blowing houses for tin, and smelt mills for lead would be classified as blast furnaces. However, the term has usually been limited to those used for smelting iron ore to produce pig iron
, an intermediate
material used in the production of commercial iron and steel
, and the shaft furnaces used in combination with sinter plants in base metals smelting.