Who and when, was Cast Iron invented?

Thus far in the story iron has been heated and hammered, but never melted. Its melting point (1528°C) is too high for primitive furnaces, which can reach about 1300°C and are adequate for copper (melting at 1083°C). This limitation is overcome when the Chinese develop a furnace hot enough to melt iron, enabling them to produce the world's first cast iron - an event traditionally dated in the Chinese histories to 513 BC.

In this they are a thousand and more years ahead of the western world. The first iron foundry in England, for example, dates only from AD 1161. By that time the Chinese have already pioneered the structural use of cast iron, using it sometimes for the pillars of full-size pagodas.
Bessemer Converter; around 1850 or so. Do a search...
The Chinese practised the technique of using blast furnaces for making cast iron from at least the fourth century BC. There were a number of reasons for this. China had good refractory clays for the construction of the walls of blast furnaces. The Chinese also knew how to reduce the temperature at which the iron would melt. They threw in something which they called 'black earth., which contained much iron phosphate. If up to 6 per cent of phosphorus is added in this way to an iron mixture, it reduces the melting point from the normal 1130 degrees C to 950 degrees C. This technique was used in the early centuries, ceasing before the sixth century AD, when proper blast furnaces came Into use which needed no such assistance.

Coal, which gave a high temperature, was used as a fuel from the fourth century AD, and probably earlier. One method was to put the iron ore in batteries of elongated, tube-like crucibles, and pack these round with a mass of coal which was then burnt. This had the extra advantage of excluding sulphur from the process.
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