Which is better, iron or gold?

To Croesus, King of Lydia, on being shown his golden treasures, Solon said: “If another comes who hath better iron than you, he will take away your gold.”


Croesus on the pyre*

*image shown depicts King Croesus, unlikely to show Solon.

King Croesus introduces gold coinage (adopted by the Persians after they defeated him) although his coins used a gold-silver alloy (electrum) based on the composition of the alluvial deposits. When he asked the Delphic oracle of Amphiarus if he should wage a campaign against Cyrus the Great of Persia or seek an alliance, the Delphic advice was that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a great empire.


Herodotus, The History of Herodotus, Translated by George Rawlinson




Most expensive Iron?

I went to the pharmacy today, the price of Iron there is pretty expensive.

Picture of Iron Supplements

Expensive Iron, 5.2 p per 14 mg.

5.2 pence per 14 mg tablet. That means the price per kg is £371,000 (371 thousand pounds), or 3.7 million pounds per tonne (3.7 M£/tonne).

This is amazing, the usual price of steel is more like 600 pounds per tonne, and around 1.5 trillion tonnes (1,510,222,000 tonnes) (1.5 Gigatonnes) of steel are produced annually. It seems like the steel industry should be selling this steel for 1000 times more. That would be a total of £5.6 &times 1015 or 5.6 P£ or 5.6 petapounds (I don’t know the financial term £5.6 million billion or 5.6 thousand trillion or 105 times world GDP).

Compared to the human body, the average amount of iron is about 3.5 g per person. That means we need 250 of these tablets to replace the iron in our body, at a cost of 13 pounds.

Future of steel production?


Details of a new process have been revealed, for alloying electrochemical production of iron, either for making iron (and oxygen!) on the moon or making electrolytic iron (and oxygen) on earth. The original process was developed for release of oxygen from moon rocks, using iridium metal electrodes. The new process uses chromium-iron electrodes.

The process has the potential to further reduce the carbon dioxide produced during steelmaking, when combined with electricity production from ‘carbon-dioxide neutral’ source.