Formation of non-metallic inclusions and the possibility of their removal during ingot casting
Abstract: The present study was carried out to investigate the formation and evolution of non-metallic inclusions during ingot casting. Emphasize have been on understanding the types of inclusions formed and developed through the casting process and on the development of already existing inclusions carried over from the ladle during casting. Industrial experiments carried on at Uddeholm Tooling together with laboratory work and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations.Ingots of 5.8 tons have been sampled and the types of inclusions together with their distribution within the ingot have been characterized. Two new types of inclusions have been found. Type C1 is found originated from casting powder and in the size from a few μm to 30 μm. Type C2 is of macro inclusion type sizing up to 70 μm. The presence of C2 inclusions are few but very detrimental for the quality of the steel. Both types, C1 and C2 consist of alumina, indicating that reoxidation is the main reason for their existence.The protecting argon shroud has been studied by the use of a 1:1 scaled 2D model. Both flow pattern and oxygen measurement have been carried out. CFD has also been used as an auxiliary tool. It has been found that the oxygen pickup through argon gas shroud depends mostly on the distance between the ladle and the collar placed on top of runner. Further increase of gas flow rate above 2.5 m3.h-1 had very little effect on the oxygen distribution since both the flushing effect and the entraining effect with respect to oxygen are enhanced by further increase of inert gas flow rate. In the case of dual gas inlet, the flow in the shroud was found much less diffused compared with either vertical or horizontal injection system. The oxygen content in this arrangement was also greatly reduced.Studies of the runner after casting revealed a sparse non-metallic network structure around the periphery of the steel rod remained in the runner. The surface of the refractory had been severely attacked by the mechanical force from the streaming steel. The erosions of the centre stone and the end stone were on the other hand negligible. CFD calculations showed that the flow at those locations is almost stagnant. The surface of the refractory in contact with the steel was found to have an increased content of alumina. The source for the alumina could come from either exchange reaction of dissolved aluminium replaces the silica or reoxidation products origin from oxygen pick up during the transfer from the ladle to the vertical runner. Inclusions were also found entrapped in the steel refractory interface.It was also found that a formation of a liquid slag film as early as possible during casting would increase the possibility to remove inclusions and especially inclusions generated by the casting powder.
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