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Technical Information 21

Heat Conservation in Liquid Iron


When processing liquid iron in ladles and holders there will be a continuous loss of tempe-
rature from radiation and heat conduction through refractories. Such energy losses can be
minimised by using insulating materials and covered vessels for holding and transportation
of metal. This sheet gives some examples of how temperature can be conserved in a
ladle. Some of the important consequences of heat conservation are also listed in the end.

Heat transfer - refractory linings:

dT (T − T ) (T − T2 )
Q& = − k = −k 2 1 = k 1 (1)
dx L L

where Q& is heat transfer per unit area (W/m2), k is thermal conduc-
tivity (W/m·K), T1 is temperature of the hot face (K), T2 is temperatu-
re of the cold face (K), and L is refractory thickness (m). The equa-
tion is negative because heat transfer is contrary to the direction of
the temperature gradient.

Refractory conduction, single component:

Example: k = 1 W/m·K for high alumina lining


T1 = 1480°C (1753 K), T2 = 38°C (311 K)
L = 0.051 m (51 mm)
2
Q& = 1 (1753 - 311)/0.051 = 28.3 kW/m

For each square meter of single component alumina refractory, the rate of heat loss is
approx. 28 kW.

Heat transfer, multiple layers:

(T1 − T3 )
Q& = (2)
L1 L2 L3
+ +
k1 k 2 k 3
where k1 is the conductivity and L1 is the thickness of mate-
rial 1, etc.

Refractory conduction, multiple components:

Example: T1 = 1480°C (1753 K), T3 = 38°C (311 K)


High alumina: L1 = 25 mm, k1 = 1 W/m2·K
Insulating brick: L2 = 25 mm, k2 = 0.5 W/m2·K
Ceramic paper: L3 = 6 mm, k3 = 0.05 W/m2·K
2
Q& = (1753-311) / (0.025+0.050+0.12) = 7.4 kW/m

For each square meter of multiple component refractory, the rate of heat loss is about 7
kW.
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Technical Information 21 2

Refractory conduction, savings from multiple components:


Refractory consept Heat losses
Single component 28.3 kW
Multiple components 7.4 kW
Energy savings 20.9 kW

About 75% of the heat loss from a single component refractory can be saved by using a
multiple component alternative including insulating bricks and ceramic paper (fibre).

Heat radiation:

Q& = εσ (T14 − T24 ) (3)


where Q& is heat radiation per area (W/m2), ε is emissivity (number between 0 and 1), σ is
the Stefan-Boltzmann constant (5.67·10-8 W/m2·K4), T1 is temperature of the radiating ma-
terial (K), and T2 is temperature of the receiving media (K), the latter usually room tempe-
rature (25 °C).

Some common emissivity values:


Surface Temperature Emissivity
Sheet steel 25 - 50 °C 0.81-0.83
Molten iron 1400-1600 °C 0.25-0.40
Al2O3-SiO2 high Al2O3 1000-1500 °C 0.45-0.60
refractories low Al2O3 1000-1500 °C 0.65-0.80

Radiation from metal surface:


Q& = 5.67*10-8 x 0.33 x (17534-2984) = 176.6 kW/m2 @ 1480 °C
Radiation from empty ladle refractory between fills:
Q& = 5.67*10-8 x 0.45 x (17534-2984) = 240.8 kW/m2 @ 1480 °C
Hence, for a 0.17 m2 metal bath surface the heat loss will be about 30
kW, while for a 1 m2 refractory area in an empty ladle the loss will be
approx. 240 kW.

Important effects of heat conservation:


• Less melting energy required. Thus, lower tapping temperature.
• Reduced temperature losses during pouring.
• Extended furnace-lining life.
• Less formation and accumulation of slag in ladles.
• Less magnesium alloy required in ductile iron.
• Less maintenance of ladle refractories.
• Better environment (especially ductile iron) due to less smoke and fume.