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Fireclay bricks

Fireclay bricks are used throughout the cooler parts of the COB that includes the regenerator chambers,
checker, battery roof, in the pinion walls, and in the coke wharf. Normally there are five general classes of
fireclay bricks. These are super duty, high duty, semi silica, medium duty, and low duty. Fireclay bricks
used in COB construction are generally of the high duty class.
Blends of five or more ground and sized clays are used to make fireclay bricks. Some bricks, especially
those in the low duty class, may be made from single clay. Mixes for high duty bricks commonly contain
raw flint and bond clays, possibly with calcined clays. In the high duty class, a large proportion of the mix
is pre-calcined to control firing shrinkage, as well as to stabilize the volume and control mineral
composition of the final brick.
Fireclay shapes are moulded by several methods namely power pressing, extrusion and repressing, air
ramming and hand ramming. The method of moulding is selected on the basis of shape complexity as well
as the properties of the fireclay that are needed. However small lots of a given shape may be hand
moulded. Fireclay brick shapes after the moulding operations are dried on hot floors or in tunnel or
humidity driers. After drying, the shapes are usually fired in continuous car type tunnel kilns. Batch type,
downdraft kilns are rarely used. The firing temperature is dependent on the nature of the clays used and on
the intended service of the brick. Free and combined water are lost during firing, and iron and sulfur
compounds as well as organic matter are oxidized. The particles of clay are ceramically bonded together to
form a strong refractory. High duty fireclay shapes are more resistant to spalling than medium and low
duty products, and they are burned hard enough so that they are highly resistant to carbon monoxide
High duty fireclay brick for COB construction generally is refractory to about 1700 deg C. However it
does not have the creep resistance of silica brick. High duty fireclay can be expected to deform 0.5 % to as
much as 4.0 % under a 172 kPa load at 1350 deg C.
Fireclay bricks have nearly a linear thermal expansion from ambient temperature to battery operating
temperatures, as compared to silica brick, which has nearly all of its expansion taking place below 593 deg
C. As a result high duty fireclay bricks can be repeatedly cycled through low temperature ranges without
spalling failure. Medium and low duty fireclay refractories, being more dense, are more susceptible to
thermal shock.