Development of Cost-Effective Low-Permeability Ceramic and Refractory Components for Aluminum Melting and Casting

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A recent review by the U.S. Advanced Ceramics Association, the Aluminum Association, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Industrial Technologies (DOE/OIT) described the status of advanced ceramics for aluminum processing, including monolithics, composites, and coatings. The report observed that monolithic ceramics (particularly oxides) have attractive properties such as resistance to heat, corrosion, thermal shock, abrasion, and erosion [1]. However, even after the developments of the past 25 years, there are two key barriers to commercialization: reliability and cost-effectiveness. Industry research is therefore focused on eliminating these barriers. Ceramic coatings have likewise undergone significant development and a variety of ... continued below

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Kadolkar, Puja & Ott, Ronald D February 1, 2006.

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A recent review by the U.S. Advanced Ceramics Association, the Aluminum Association, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Industrial Technologies (DOE/OIT) described the status of advanced ceramics for aluminum processing, including monolithics, composites, and coatings. The report observed that monolithic ceramics (particularly oxides) have attractive properties such as resistance to heat, corrosion, thermal shock, abrasion, and erosion [1]. However, even after the developments of the past 25 years, there are two key barriers to commercialization: reliability and cost-effectiveness. Industry research is therefore focused on eliminating these barriers. Ceramic coatings have likewise undergone significant development and a variety of processes have been demonstrated for applying coatings to substrates. Some processes, such as thermal barrier coatings for gas turbine engines, exhibit sufficient reliability and service life for routine commercial use. Worldwide, aluminum melting and molten metal handling consumes about 506,000 tons of refractory materials annually. Refractory compositions for handling molten aluminum are generally based on dense fused cast silica or mullite. The microstructural texture is extremely important because an interlocking mass of coarser grains must be bonded together by smaller grains in order to achieve adequate strength. At the same time, well-distributed microscopic pores and cracks are needed to deflect cracks and prevent spalling and thermal shock damage [2]. The focus of this project was to develop and validate new classes of cost-effective, low-permeability ceramic and refractory components for handling molten aluminum in both smelting and casting environments. The primary goal was to develop improved coatings and functionally graded materials that will possess superior combinations of properties, including resistance to thermal shock, erosion, corrosion, and wetting. When these materials are successfully deployed in aluminum smelting and casting operations, their superior performance and durability will give end users marked improvements in uptime, defect reduction, scrap/rework costs, and overall energy savings resulting from higher productivity and yield. The implementation of results of this program will result in energy savings of 30 trillion Btu/year by 2020. For this Industrial Materials for the Future (IMF) project, riser tube used in the low-pressure die (LPD) casting of aluminum was selected as the refractory component for improvement. In this LPD process, a pressurized system is used to transport aluminum metal through refractory tubes (riser tubes) into wheel molds. It is important for the tubes to remain airtight because otherwise, the pressurized system will fail. Generally, defects such as porosity in the tube or cracks generated by reaction of the tube material with molten aluminum lead to tube failure, making the tube incapable of maintaining the pressure difference required for normal casting operation. Therefore, the primary objective of the project was to develop a riser tube that is not only resistant to thermal shock, erosion, corrosion, and wetting, but is also less permeable, so as to achieve longer service life. Currently, the dense-fused silica (DFS) riser tube supplied by Pyrotek lasts for only 7 days before undergoing failure. The following approach was employed to achieve the goal: (1) Develop materials and methods for sealing surface porosity in thermal-shock-resistant ceramic refractories; (2) Develop new ceramic coatings for extreme service in molten aluminum operations, with particular emphasis on coatings based on highly stable oxide phases; (3) Develop new monolithic refractories designed for lower-permeability applications using controlled porosity gradients and particle size distributions; (4) Optimize refractory formulations to minimize wetting by molten aluminum, and characterize erosion, corrosion, and spallation rates under realistic service conditions; and (5) Scale up the processing methods to full-sized components and perform field testing in commercial aluminum casting shops.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2006/005
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/930713 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 930713
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc902507

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  • February 1, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Oct. 31, 2016, 4:40 p.m.

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Kadolkar, Puja & Ott, Ronald D. Development of Cost-Effective Low-Permeability Ceramic and Refractory Components for Aluminum Melting and Casting, report, February 1, 2006; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc902507/: accessed June 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.