Northern Minnesota's iron mines are the starting point for the majority of the steel that gets produced in the United States. Their taconite processing plants use heat in furnaces to oxidize and indurate iron in the final stage of making a taconite pellet. Facilities can increase efficiencies when refractory service life is maintained. Efficiencies gained include: less fuel used, better quality control, better furnace control, and less mechanical component maintenance. Furnace refractory linings fail when the cracks that develop in them are uncontrolled or too large. These failures allow heat and gases retained by the lining to reach structural or mechanical components. Furnace control and efficiencies are also compromised when heat and gases are allowed to short circuit or escape the system.These failures are primarily the result of thermal of shock and expansion. It is common place to add stainless steel needle reinforcement to a monolithic refractory in an effort to counteract these effects. This study used several standard ASTM testing procedures to test 65% alumina mullite based refractory samples with 304 and 406 grade stainless steel needles. Mechanical property data gathered was used to analyze performance. The study found that adding reinforcement does not increase initial Compression and Cold Modulus of Ruptures strengths, however, after prolonged heat and thermal shock exposure, needles help maintain integrity and mechanical properties of samples. The study also found that corrosion due to oxidation was a major contributing factor to the way needles performed; and concluded that a concentration of 3% 406 "Alfa 1" stainless steel reinforcing needles added to the working lining of a taconite furnace is recommended.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. February 2014. Major: Civil Engineering. Advisor: Eshan V. Dave. 1 computer file (PDF); viii,95 pages.
Peterson, Robb Alex.
Engineered design of fiber reinforced precast refractory material for taconite processing furnaces.
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