The aim of this study was to determine the influence of alumina increase on the functioning of casting powder during continuous casting. Two aspects of the powder's performance were experimentally measured, namely the influence of alumina on the viscosity and the crystallisation behaviour. These two aspects were then related to the in-mould functioning of the casting powder with the aid of literature references. Casting slag must provide lubrication between the mould surface and the thin steel shell. Alumina increase will cause viscosity increase in casting slags and will hinder lubrication when the inflow of casting slag into the mould/strand gap deteriorates. Heat transfer across the gap is determined by the amount of solid casting slag and the form (glass or crystalline) thereof. Heat transfer across a crystalline material may be up to seven times lower than that across a glass phase. The increased alumina will serve to increase the ratio of glassy phase to crystalline phase in the gap, so increasing the heat transfer. To determine the true extent of alumina increase with modern clean steel practice, samples were taken from the moulds of both the VI and V2 continuous casters at ISCOR Vanderbijlpark. The influence of this alumina increase on the viscosity and the crystallisation behaviour of the casting slag were experimentally measured. Viscosity measurements were done with a rotating bob viscometer (in a vertical tube furnace) on two commercial casting powders (with increasing AI2O3 content). Viscosity prediction models were evaluated with the data from the measured viscosity values. Crystallisation measurements were done by quench experiments with the aid of the hot thermocouple technique. Crystallisation behaviour after a specified heat cycle was presented as the percentage opaque material (crystalline) to vitreous material (glassy) measured with an optical microscope. For the seven sequence casts during which samples were collected from the mould, it was found that the alumina content of the casting slag reached a steady-state value within the first ladle (first 40 minutes) with an increase of 3 to 4 mass %. The influence of a 4 mass % alumina increase on the measured viscosity is small enough that proper lubrication function of the slag will not be negatively affected. Viscosity prediction models vary in their accuracy and are limited with respect to the composition range of the casting powder and the temperature range for which they are valid. The increased alumina content was found to have a strong influence on the percentage crystalline material present. After the sample was heated to 1300°C, kept there for 10s, and then quenched, the crystalline material will decrease from 60 % to 30 % for 5 mass % alumina added. This decreased crystalline material present may notably increase heat transfer. Full crystallisation does not occur at a single temperature, and crystallisation occurs over a temperature interval (of up to 200°C). This means that crystallisation temperature values quoted by casting powder manufacturers depend on the heat cycle and the technique used during crystallisation measurements. Several crystalline phases are usually present in solidified casting slag and these crystalline phases are strongly influenced by the alumina content: the stable crystalline phases may change as alumina content increases. For the current alumina increase in casting powders the effect on viscosity is small, while crystallisation behaviour may be influenced to a greater extent.
Dissertation (M Eng (Metallurgical Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2006.