Modeling and Optimization of Direct Chill Casting to Reduce Ingot Cracking

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Approximately 68% of the aluminum produced in the United States is first cast into ingots prior to further processing into sheet, plate, extrusions, or foil. The direct chill (DC) semi-continuous casting process has been the mainstay of the aluminum industry for the production of ingots due largely to its robust nature and relative simplicity. Though the basic process of DC casting is in principle straightforward, the interaction of process parameters with heat extraction, microstructural evolution, and development of solidification stresses is too complex to analyze by intuition or practical experience. One issue in DC casting is the formation of stress ... continued below

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Das, S.K.; Ningileri, S.; Long, Z.; Saito, K.; Khraisheh, M.; Hassan, M.H. et al. August 15, 2006.

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Approximately 68% of the aluminum produced in the United States is first cast into ingots prior to further processing into sheet, plate, extrusions, or foil. The direct chill (DC) semi-continuous casting process has been the mainstay of the aluminum industry for the production of ingots due largely to its robust nature and relative simplicity. Though the basic process of DC casting is in principle straightforward, the interaction of process parameters with heat extraction, microstructural evolution, and development of solidification stresses is too complex to analyze by intuition or practical experience. One issue in DC casting is the formation of stress cracks [1-15]. In particular, the move toward larger ingot cross-sections, the use of higher casting speeds, and an ever-increasing array of mold technologies have increased industry efficiencies but have made it more difficult to predict the occurrence of stress crack defects. The Aluminum Industry Technology Roadmap [16] has recognized the challenges inherent in the DC casting process and the control of stress cracks and selected the development of 'fundamental information on solidification of alloys to predict microstructure, surface properties, and stresses and strains' as a high-priority research need, and the 'lack of understanding of mechanisms of cracking as a function of alloy' and 'insufficient understanding of the aluminum solidification process', which is 'difficult to model', as technology barriers in aluminum casting processes. The goal of this Aluminum Industry of the Future (IOF) project was to assist the aluminum industry in reducing the incidence of stress cracks from the current level of 5% to 2%. Decreasing stress crack incidence is important for improving product quality and consistency as well as for saving resources and energy, since considerable amounts of cast metal could be saved by eliminating ingot cracking, by reducing the scalping thickness of the ingot before rolling, and by eliminating butt sawing. Full-scale industrial implementation of the results of the proposed research would lead to energy savings in excess of 6 trillion Btu by the year 2020. The research undertaken in this project aimed to achieve this objective by a collaboration of industry, university, and national laboratory personnel through Secat, Inc., a consortium of aluminum companies. During the four-year project, the industrial partners and the research team met in 16 quarterly meetings to discuss research results and research direction. The industrial partners provided guidance, facilities, and experience to the research team. The research team went to two industrial plants to measure temperature distributions in commercial 60,000-lb DC casting ingot production. The project focused on the development of a fundamental understanding of ingot cracking and detailed models of thermal conditions, solidification, microstructural evolution, and stress development during the initial transient in DC castings of the aluminum alloys 3004 and 5182. The microstructure of the DC casting ingots was systematically characterized. Carefully designed experiments were carried out at the national laboratory and university facilities as well as at the industrial locations using the industrial production facilities. The advanced computational capabilities of the national laboratories were used for thermodynamic and kinetic simulations of phase transformation, heat transfer and fluid flow, solidification, and stress-strain evolution during DC casting. The achievements of the project are the following: (1) Identified the nature of crack formation during DC casting; (2) Developed a novel method for determining the mechanical properties of an alloy at the nonequilibrium mushy zone of the alloy; (3) Measured heat transfer coefficients (HTCs) between the solidifying ingot and the cooling water jet; (4) Determined the material constitutive model at high temperatures; and (5) Developed computational capabilities for the simulation of cracking formation in DC casting ingot. The models and the database developed in this project have been used to predict crack formation and to determine the optimal conditions for DC casting. The results demonstrated that cracking formation is strongly affected by casting conditions and the composition of the alloy. Scrap rate due to crack formation can be significantly reduced by controlling the cast speed and the concentrations of the alloy.

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  • Report No.: ORNL0601.01
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/940314 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 940314
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc902906

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  • August 15, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 4, 2016, 7:19 p.m.

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Das, S.K.; Ningileri, S.; Long, Z.; Saito, K.; Khraisheh, M.; Hassan, M.H. et al. Modeling and Optimization of Direct Chill Casting to Reduce Ingot Cracking, report, August 15, 2006; Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc902906/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.