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Refractories for reheating and

heat treatment furnaces


S. S. Ghose, A. K. Bose, S. P. Mohanty, S. N. Mishra and S. Des
Belpahar Refractories Ltd.
After describing the type of furna-

Introduction

cess and the service conditions en-

The group of furnaces used for reheating and heat-treatment covers a

countered in different types of rehea-

wide field in the processing of both

ting and heat-treatment furnaces the

ferrous and non-ferrous metals. A

authors illustrates the different types

"re-heating" furnace is utilised to raise

of refractories used in various zones of

the temperature of the metal to prepare it for hot working (shaping),

the furnaces e. g. walls, roofs; hearth,


combustion chamber etc. The. im-

while the "heat-treatment" furnaces

portance of insulation and conserva-

are 'used for stress relieving and for

tion of energy in various types of fur-

changing the physical properties of the


metal after the product has attained its

naces ha.i also been emphasied. Refractories for soaking pits has also

final shape.

been discussed.

The above type furnaces may be


grouped as follows :
I. Re-heating furnaces.
These are divided Into general
classes a

In re-heating and heat-treatment


furnaces the essential criteria for refractory performance is uninterrupted
service life and minimum maintenance
cost. Unscheduled breakdowns are
extremely undesirable since it would

a) Batch type

upset the entire production programme

b) Continuous type, which may


be pusher-type, walking beam

of the mill.
The selection of the refractories to

type, rotary hearth type and

achieve a successful performance would

roller-hearth type.

depend upon the areas of application

2. Soaking pits.

in the furnace and the service condi.


tions. One of the major criteria influ-

The "heat-treating" furnaces encom-

encing the choice would be the over-

pass a wide range of furnaces varying

all cost so as to achieve the optimum

In size, design and operating conditions.

economic performance.

130

In general the refractories, are re-

the distinction is to be made for refrac-

quired to withstand any of the follow-

tories which are used in the immersed

The

state I. e. where it is exposed to tem-

severity of any of these conditions


would greatly influence the choice of

perature on all sides such as checkers,


partition walls etc. On the contrary

refractory.

where the refractory Is subjected to

ing conditions during service.

high temperature on one face only,


High temperature depending on
furnace operational requirements.
2.

Localised overheating due to


flame misalignment or radiation
from the flame.

3.

which is the more usual condition encountered in furnaces, the relatively


cooler rigid portion of the brick on the
cold face side of the brick work can
take most of the load.
Insulation and conservation of

Abrasive action due to nature


of the fuel e. g. where solid or

energy
Conservation of energy is also one of
the important feature which would In-

pulverised fuel is used.

fluence the choice of refractories. The


4.

affect of fuel ash etc.

5.

Load due to the brick work.

6.

Structural stresses.

7.

Stresses due to temperature

facing lining which has to withstand the

gradient.

abrasive actions and other mechanical

refractory quality i. e. the thermal conductivity and the lining thickness would
determine the amount of heat flow
through any structure. Usually the

abuses of the furnace, is a dense refrac8.

Temperature fluctuations and


cycling

tory material backed up by .hot face


Howand cold face insulation bricks.

Effect of fumes etc. prevailing

ever, over insulation is also not bene-

In the furnace atmosphere.

ficial since it would raise the intereface

10.

Reactions due to scales, slags etc.

I I.

Load due to charge in the fur-

better grade of refractory to withstand


the relatively more intense tempera-

9.

temperature, which would require a

ture conditions.

nace.
12

Mechanical abuses either due to

In recent years, with the develop-

movement of the charge or any

ment of superior quality hot face refractories increasing use is being made of
such refractories for the construction

other factor.
The temperature conditions in service Is the major factor to determine

of furnaces. 'If other operating parameters are suitable, these refractories

the quality of the refractory required

can be used as the working face of the

for any particular application.

lining which in addition to the lower

Here

131

heat losses provide the advantage of


the lighter construction.

The common areas of all furnaces are


usually i) Walls ii) Roof Ili)

Com-

bustion chambers iv) Hearth, which are


In continuous

furnaces, the losses

through the walls is Insignificant compared to the total energy consumption'.


In case of the batch type furnaces
the conditions are distinctly different.
Construction with insulating refractories results in a relatively lower
thermal mass of the furnace brickwork. Such constructions have the

dealt separately from the design view


point. The designers' concern is not
only to achieve a

structurally stable

construction, but also to ensure that


the structures would withstand the
stress/strain influences during opera.

tion.
Walls

advantage of reducing the heat losses

The quality of the refractory as well

due to heat flow through the refrac-

as the wall thickness would depend on

tory structures as well as reduction In

the operating environment of the fur-

the residual heat content between

nace, wall height as well as the degree

heating cycles due to the lower ther-

of conservation of heat desired.

mal capacity. These are ideally suited


In the continuous reheating furnaces

for the construction of the low Inertia

the walls have to usually accommodate

rapid heating furnaces where relatively


quicker cycles become possible to be
achieved. The introduction of ceramic
fibres which can withstand quite high
temperatures have Immensely increased
the possibil ity of the extensive use of
such materials in furnace constructions.

other important element's of the furnace


such as combusion chamber, the load of
the roof in some types of constructions
and doors etc.

However less severe

conditions are In general experienced

in the walls than in the roof and combustion chambers. The introduction of

Refractories for re-heating furnaces


In addition to the suitable refractory
quality required to adequately withstand the furnace operational environ-

oil firing and high output rates has


resulted in replacement of the usual
medium and high duty fireclay bricks
by higher alumina ( 50-40% A1203 )
bricks, specially in the bottom part of
the furnace where lower shrinkage,

ments, the following aspects are equal-

higher resistance to creep In compres-

ly important to achieve success :

sion and greater resistance to thermal

a)

Design of suitable refractory

shocks are necessary. A particular

structure

damage to side walls in bottom fired

b)

Provision of expansion allowance

c)

Laying of the refractory brick

furnaces is the effect of flame impingement, which being below charge


level, is not easily detected before
serious damage has been effected.

work.

132

to collapse frequently On the spot

The compressional load at the


bottom brick for a 4 meter wail would

enquiry by the authors and follow up

be about 1,5 Kg/cm2. However, complication arises due to the surface Ir-

by intensive laboratory trials and estimates of temperature gradients in the

regularities, within the tolerance limits


allowed and present day manufacturing

wall revealed that the brick quality


used was not suitable to withstand the

practices, which may result In point

operating conditions. It was more so

loading at the contact of two brick in-

since the walls also have to withstand

terfacer... This results In development

the load of the sprung arch roof. Re-

of stresses which far exceeds the com-

placement with proper grade high

pressional crushing strength of the

alumina refractories to meet the opera-

bricks. The stresses however can be

ting conditions was ruled out since the

more uniformly redistributed by pro


vision of suitable mortar joints. in

operators were equally concerned with

case of bowed bricks, transverse tracks

being used for heating. The proposed

and failure would result due to point

high alumina lining would obviously

contacts where the load would exceed

Increase the heat losses, through the

the strength of the bricks2.

conservation of the expensive LPG fuel

walls and also increase the outside wall


temperature where buckling of the

Mouldable refractories are being increasingly used for insitu construction

steel shell had already occured with


the previous campaigns. Since suitable

of furnace walls with suitable anchors.

grade hot face insulation bricks were

These are being extensively used in

not available Indigenously, it was

USA and other countries advantageous-

developed in the authors laboratory

ly with satisfactory performance.

with utmost urgency and translated

In a 22 meter long continuous strip

into actual plant scale production with

annealing furnace operating at 950C


the firebricks lining backed up by hot

tion of the hot face insulation brick

face and cold face insulation bricks, used

used in the furnace is given below

the minimum lead time. The specifica-

Maximum service Temperature

1300C
80-85

SiO2
Refractoriness

1500C

Bulk Density ( gms/cc )

0.9-1.1

Apparent Porosity ( Vol. % )

55-60

C C S (Kg/cm2 )

30-40

% PLC at 1300C ( 8 Hrs. )

0.5

Thermal conductivity In

400C-2.0

Btu/in/hr/F at hot face

600C-2.3

temperature of

800C-2.8

133

such refractories have the advantage of

The furnace has now been operating;

the Inherent lower conductivity over


equivalent grade of dense bricks. 3. Some

successfully without any interruption


since over a year. The savings on the
the refractory prices several times over.

typical properties of refractory con-,


cretes for reheating furnace roof blocks
( Hardy and Titterington)4 are given

Roof

below

fuel cost alone has already paid back

The furnace roof is usually made with


sprung arch or suspended construction.

Recommended service temperature range

0 to 1550C

Suspended roof construction is more in

Cold crushing strength, Kg/cms2

475

practice In recent years. particularly for


large furnaces.

Thermal expansion ( 20-1550C )

Thermal spell resistant and volume

0.25%

stable fireclay shapes have been succes


fully used in furnaces with moderate
operating conditions. Semi silica bricks,

Permanent linear change, % (Shrinkage)


0.47

which posesses relatively better spal-

Refractoriness

Orton Cone 32

Ing resistance, have also been used.


Typical data of fireciay refractories
which has proved to be suitable for

In case of the sprung arch constructions conditions of point loading due

roof construction is given in Table I.

to surface irregularity may occur.


Similarly with bowed bricks transverse

However, the severe operating con-

fracturing may also develop which

ditions In large furnaces of high output

partly explains the slabbing off of the

mills have exposed the limitations of

hot face of the roof during furnace

these refractories. The introduction

heating up.

of oil firing has further aggravated the


situation due to faster heating rates
particularly in the lower temperature

The creep properties also play a


significantly important role In the per-

range and there is a greater risk of

formance of roof refractories. On the

flame misalignment with risk of local-

hot face such expansion is pardally off..

ised over heating. The alkalis and vana-

set by the creep.

dium oxide in the fuel ash may have a

behind the hot face stresses develop In

strong corrosive effect on the refractories.

But immediately

the relatively rigid portion of the brick

which would crack due to its failure


to yield to the

The present trend, particularly in

resultant.. stresses.

These difficulties may be elim:;,ated to

USA and other western countries, is to


replace shaped bricks in the roof by

great extent by proyisica of suitable

fully monolithic roofs installed insitu or

expansion allowance in the construction.

use of large precast blocks.

Besides
good thermal shock resistance, use of

In case of the suspended rocf construction several design with proven

134

TABLE-1

ll oI \ ractories for use in roof of reheating furnaces


Thermal shock resistant and volume stable firebrick
% A1203

35-37

% 0A

2.0

Fe2O3

Refractoriness

SK-32

Bulk Density ( gm/cc )

2.15

App, Porosity ( Vol. % )

18

C C S ( Kg/cm2 )

380

R tJ L ( 2Kg/cm2 ) -1-- to C

1435

% P L Cat 1450 C

-1- 0.2

Spiting Resistance

-I- IS

1200Cwater

Cycles

performance over the years are in exis-

subsequent collapse can be eliminated to

tance. The essential features are pro-

a great extent by providing a recess

vision of suitable anchors and their

for the toe of the arch over the furnace

protection against over-heating, proper

wall. In extreme cases where tem-

design of the bricks and thermal spall

perature cycling and other mechanical


abuses are characteristic of the parti-

resistant characteristics.

cular furnace, provision of suitably


In the construction of the sprung
arch furnace roofs the authors have
experienced that provision of adequate

designed tongue and groove arrangements In the design of sprung arches


has given improved performances,

expansion joints provided with meticulous care, through half the length of
the arch brick on the hot face side ,

Combustion Chambers
The

combustion chambers usually

have shown promising results. The

comprise of the burner quarls and the

expansion allowance provided should be


just adequate so as to allow for the

nose arch. The burner quarls are sub-

arch rise during heating up.

jected to the destructive Influence of

In such a
case the stresses are uniformly distri-

severe over-heating due to radiation

buted and the arch is less prone to

and flame Impingement. During opera-

cracking or sagging. It has also been

tion, carbon build up is frequently en-

observed that the problems related to

countered which tend to effect the

flame Impingement on the roof due to

direction of the flames. High alumina

misalignment or any other reason and

refractories in 60-80/0 AI,03 range are

135

rapid heating and cooling as well as

conventionally used. The typical problems encountered are cracking and

for this purpose in the authors laboratory, and is given In Table II

sagging of the burner quarls. In severe


operating conditions where the burner
quarls are to perform at continuous
high temperature, even 90% alumina
refractories have been used advantageously to avoid saggingand deformations.
Recently both precast blocks and Insitu

The nose arch is also exposed to


more or less similar operatinng condition viz severe localised over heating
due to flame Impingement and continuous high temperature by flame radiation and possible misalignment.

In

castings are being used for installation

case of self supporting arches, the stress/


strain conditions and failure due to

of burner quarls. The following

fracturing occur similar to the roof

material has given successful result In


several applications In the burner

arches. High alumina refractories are


recommended where the nose arch has

quarls, which was specifically developed

to support the load of the roof and

TA BLEII
Typical data of Ramming mass Burner quarl
Quality

High alumina

Max. Service Temperature

1700C

Refractoriness

+ 1780C

A1203 %

70-75

Fe2 O3

2.5-3

Setting

Chemical

Sintering temperature
Crading mm

800C
05

Linear change
After drying at 110 C 0.2
After heating at 500 C 0.2
After heating at 1000 C 0.2

IR

at 1450 C r 0.8
at 1550 C H-0.2

C C S Kg/cm 2
After drying at 110 C 200-250
Heating at 500 C 300-300
OP

81

PP

at 1000 C --. 350 400


at 1450 C 400-420
at 1550 C -- 350-370

136

wall super structures since higher-hot

also to withstand the thrust of the roof

strength and resistance to compres-

arch. Subsequently additional rider

sional creeps are highly desirable.

arches were provided to relieve the


burner arches from the direct thrust

In a walking beam furnace operating

of the roof arch. The performance

at moderate temperature of about


1100C, it was unfortunately exberienc-

since then have improved appreciably


( Fig. 2 ).

ed that the furnace has to be shutdown


in a few days after the light up due to
complete collapse of the combustion
chamber arches due to cracking. After
intensive testing in the authors laboratory It was noticed that the refractory
quality used were suitable to serve the
purpose adequately and the failure was
mainly due to other reasons. During
the subsequent repairs, expansion
allowances were provided on the hot
face and also grannular refractory
material were used over the arch to
have the flexibility to marginally accommodate the arch rise (Fig. I). The
problem have been satisfactorily solved
since then.

Fig. 2 Rider arch to relieve the load on


the burner arch,
Hearth
The hearth of the reheating furnaces
is the total area available to carry the

'MORTAR JOINTS

stock and is subjected to the maximum


,ViANNULAR
AEFRACTORIFS.

mechanical abuse, slag and scale attacks,


load at high temperatures etc.
In pusher type furnaces the preheating zone hearth is either solid through
out with skid rails to give protection
against abrasion or have water cooled
skids supported by ordinary fireclay
bricks as in the bottom fired pusher

Fig. 1 Provision of expansion allowance


on the burner arch

type furnaces. In the soaking zone the

Similarly in a furnace operating con-

.hearth is subjected to abrasion and


attack by oxide scale which may result

tinuously over 1500 C, sagging of the

in severe fluxing of the refractory

combustion chamber arches was a re-

under the prevailing high temperature

curring problem since these arches have

condition. In this area both basic and

137

Over SK-36

BRL CM N

O
0j
cNi
o
si:
cs1

high alumina ( 80-90% A12 03 ) refractories have been successfully used.


Fusion cast bricks give better performance, but the relatively high cost precludes its use extensively. Dense ( 8090% A1203 ) fused grain rebonded
brick developed indigenously has given
highly promising results. These bricks
have been successfully used in the skids
and hearth of a pusher type reheating
furnace in an integrated steel plant. A

Setting

Hydraulic

Sintering tern.

1200 C

Grading

(0-5) mm

Linear
CCS
change Kg/cm2
After drying at 110 C
250-300
0
280-310
After heating at 500 C 0
200-230
After heating at 1000 C 0
240-260
Aftre heating at 1200 C y 0

record Ingot production of over 1.5


million tonnes has been achieved without any necessity of repair of the hearth

Refractories for soaking pits


In

with the BRL-88 brick ( item I, Table

the soaking pits, although the

111 ). The typical data of the materials

operating temperatures are relatively


moderate ( 1250 to 1400 C ) the ser-

suitable for the reheating furnace


hearths are given in Table III.

vice conditions to which refractories


are exposed are frequently severe. The
recent trend in the refractory practices

In the walking beam furnaces the

being adopted In the various important

refractories are required to have high

areas of the soaking pits

impact resistance, resistance to thermal

are briefly

reviewed below :

shock and scaling. High alumina bricks


(80% A1203 ) and a high strength casta-

HearthThis has to support heavy

ble refractory specially developed for

load of ingots and also to resist the

the purpose have performed well in

attack of molten scale.

service after careful attention was paid

clay bricks were used for lining the

to the design of the brick shapes. The

the hearth, but these were attacked


vigorously by iron scales with the for-

typical data of 80% A1203 brick is given


in Table IV and that of the castable is
given below

Earlier, fire-

mation of liquid slag. The top refractory layer of the hearth in the present
day soaking pits is usually magnesite,
chrome magnesite or high A1203

Typical data of tastable used In walk-

bricks ( 70-80% A1203 ) with a cover.

ing beam furnace :

ing of coke breeze. The main require-

rp,

Max. Service Temperature 1450 C

ments are high impact and load rests-

PCE

+ 1600 C

tante, and also resistance to iron oxide

A1203

42-45%

Fe2O3

1-1.5%

CaO

4.8-5.5%

attack at the operating temperature.


In the lower walls, the refractories
are subjected to corrosive action of

139

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* Successfully usedin the hearth of walking beam furnace.

si7

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Properties ofindigenous brands of refractories for use in soaking p its

TA BLEIV

H
t"-1-1

molten iron oxide scale. The lower

Is becoming popular In other countries.

courses may be constructed of the same

The. refractory materials which may be

materials as hearth I. e., magnesite,


chrome-magnesite or high alumina,

suitable for these purposire properly

backed by fireclay and insulation bricks.


For upper walls, high grade firebricks

bodieswhich may be either hydraulically, chemically or ceramically setting

suitable to resist the Impact of the

types.

resting Ingots, and to resist the thermal


shock duQ to change In temperature

Conclusion
The successful performance of refrac-

during loading End unloading are nor-

tories in the reheating and heat treat-

mally used. Sometimes semisilica bricks

ing furnaces is dependent on the selec-.


tion of suitable quality of refractories

are also used in the upper walls.

formulated fireclay or high alumina

to withstand the environmental condiPit coverThe refractories used as

tions as well as proper design of the

cover of soaking pits have to withstand

refractory structures. Besides, provis-

frequent thermal shocks, and attack

sion of adequaate expansion allowances

of iron oxide vapours. The refractories

located judiciously to suit specific ser.

used must have the following properties-

vice conditions and also good work-

high thermal shock resistance, minimum

manship in laying the bricks are equally

attack by iron oxide vapour, volume


stability and high mechanical strength.

important.

Table IV gives the properties of the

References

various refractories used in the soaking


pits.
In order to achieve quicker repair
time at the end of campaign and to
reduce labour cost, large precast or
moulded blocks are being used for construction of upper side-walls of soaking
pits In Western countries. Also monolithic in situ' constructions of side
walls as well as covers of soaking pits

141

1. F. J. VERECKEJour. of Thermal Engs.,


Industrial Heating 1977", Sept., p. 14.
2. G. M. THOMSON, and W. DAVIES-Trans. Brit Ceram Soc." 1969. 6 & (6)
p. 269.
3. J. R. FORD LAKIN, FITZGERALD"J,
Inst. Fuel" 1972, 45 380), 549.
4. C W. HARDY and B. TITTERINGTON,
Trans. J. Brit Ceram " Soc., 1973, 72,
p. 15.