Hades: Open source steel-producing micro-furnace for artists, students and bladesmiths. Heavy industry at micro scale.
What I'm Doing - Bringing Steel Refining to Schools and Artists
This isn't another iPhone case with wheels or remote control coffee pot. This project is about building a furnace. To make steel. At crazy temperatures. This is serious technology at the most fundamental level.
Steel is at the roots of our modern society - but the production and experimentation with new alloys is limited to large organizations and corporations capable of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a big challenge for an individual or school to build, buy, or have access to a furnace capable of producing steel.
I want to change that.
The fundamental goal of Hades is to develop a small scale steel production and experimentation furnace available to anyone to build for under $10,000 - 50-100 times less expensive than commercial solutions. I'm not planning on selling these - I will be documenting each step and misstep of the way to allow others to accomplish it themselves.
Refining steel is a complicated process that involves just the right temperatures, materials and processes. While furnaces to melt and cast iron can be readily developed - making steel is a whole additional level of complexity.
Hades aims to change the economics for schools and small institutions to allow them to work with steel, to experiment with different alloys and to create steel-based objects: sculpture, parts, whatever.
I've designed Hades to bring the capability of steel production and alloy experimentation to students and artists alike. I'll be sharing the plans and progress each step of the way with the goal of allowing schools (and ambitious individuals!) to either built a Hades furnace from scratch or to modify an existing iron furnace to allow steel production.
Hades is designed and under construction. The first prototypes producing iron are up and running. Now its time to take it to the next level (and many hundreds of degrees hotter!) to step up to steel production. This will require new materials, fuel systems and a much more sophisticated process.
I've already had some incredibly generous donations of materials from a local company. Now I need the funding for the remainder of the project.
Steps to Completion
Over the October to November time frame I'll be working primarily on the core of the furnace - the main frame and insulation systems.
In December I'll start to focus on fuel systems. This is all well designed - but challenging. It involves injecting gas, oxygen and a small storm of air into the vessel.
In January I start to bring it together for a scheduled first pour in February 2013.
Please join me in bringing Hades to aspiring artists and engineers worldwide.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
It might not work. I'm pretty confident - but there absolutely are risks involved. I've researched everything possible - and I have a lot of experience in iron furnace design and construction - but there's a big difference between research and practice.
The furnace is based on existing designs with some significant tweaks. Obviously I think those modifications will work - but problems may require me to back up and take another look at portions of the design.
I'm counting on some additional donations of materials from local companies. While the commitments have been made - if I don't obtain those materials I'm going to have to start scrambling for other donors. But - I've been working in this area for years and have a pretty strong backup plan in place.
I've reviewed the design with a number of experienced furnace builders and metallurgists, they think I'm on the right track. If problems come up - I'll head right back for additional advice and consultation.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.