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Refractories & Insulators UNIT-VI


Q.No.1 What are Refractories? Explain thermal-spalling, porosity, & strength of
refractories (Pyrometric cone).
Answer: Refractories are ceramic materials that can withstand high temperatures as well as
abrasive and corrosive action of molten metals; slag’s and gases, without suffering a deformation
in shape. The main objective of a refractory is to confine heat.
Criteria of good refractory material or essential properties of good refractory materials:
The important properties are:
1. Porosity: Porosity of a refractory material is the ratio of its pore’s volume to the bulk volume.
Porosity can also increase the thermal shock resistance. The least porous bricks have the highest
thermal conductivity, strength, resistance to abrasion and corrosion.
All refractories contain pores, either due to manufacturing methods or deliberately by
incorporating saw-dust or cork during manufacture. The pores may be open or closed; the latter
are encountered in an oven-fired refractory. Porosity in the ratio of its pore’s volume to the bulk
volume. Thus, porosity,
P  [(W - D)/(W - A)] *100
W= Weight of saturated specimen
D= Weight of dry specimen
A = weight of saturated specimen submerged in water.

2. Thermal spalling: Rapid changes in temperature, cause uneven expansion and contraction of
refractory material, thereby leading to development of internal stresses and strains. This is in turn
are responsible for cracking, breaking or fracturing of a refractory brick or block under high
temperature, collectively known as thermal spalling. Thermal spalling can also caused by the
variation in the coefficient of expansion due to slag penetration in the refractory brick. A good
refractory must show a good resistance to thermal spalling. Spalling can be decreased by
1. Avoiding sudden temperature changes.
2. Over firing the refractories.
3. Modifying the furnace design.
4. Using high porosity, low coefficient of expansion, and good thermal conductivity refractory
bricks.
3. Strength of refractories:
Refractoriness is the ability of a refractory material to withstand the heat without appreciable
softening or deformation under given service conditions. It is generally measured as the
softening temperature. It is necessary that a refractory material should have a softening
temperature higher than the operating temperature of the furnace in which it is to be used.
Sometimes, it can be employed to withstand a temperature higher than its softening temperature
since the outer part of refractory is at a lower temperature and still in solid state, providing
strength. Thus, refractory material does not melt away although inner refractory lining in a
furnace is at a much higher temperatures than the outer ones. Most of the commercial refractories
do not exhibit sharp melting points and they soften gradually over a range of temperatures

Measurement of refractoriness: The softening temperatures of refractories are generally


determined by seger cones also called pyrometric cones test. In this test, behaviour of heat on
cone of refractory and series of seger cones of standard dimensions are compared. These cones

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are small pyramid shaped with triangular base, 38 mm high with 19 mm long sides.

The test refractory in the form of a cone is kept along side similar sized standard cones and all
are heated uniformly at 200C/hour or 1000C/hour or 1500C/hour or occasionally at 6000C/hour.
As seger cones are made of a particular refractory of a definite softening temperature so they are
assigned ascending seger cone numbers with increasing softening temperature. When the test
cone softens and loses its shape, one of the standard seger cones also softens and loses its shape
provided its refractoriness is close to that of the test cone. The serial number of this standard
seger cone is noted and this number is the pyrometric cone equivalent (PCE) of the refractory
under that test. When the test cone softens earlier than one standard cone, but later than the
previous one, the PCE value of the test sample is approximated as average of the two.
The temperature at which the softening or fusion of the test-cone occurs is indicated by
its apex touching the base.

Seger-cone number Temperature (0C)


1 1110
5 1180
10 1300
15 1435
20 1530
30 1670
35 1770

Refractoriness-under-load: Temperature resistance and load bearing capacity are the two
essential qualities of a refractory. This is due to the fact that commercial refractories which are
used for lining high temperature furnace are expected to withstand varying loads of the charge.
Hence they should possess high strength and excellent temperature resistance.
Measurement: Seger cone test is not applicable for the measurement of strength. Because,
some refractories soften gradually over a range of temperature, but under appreciable load, they
collapse, far below their true fusion temperature. High alumina bricks and fire-clay are examples
of such refractory materials. There are some other refractory materials like silica bricks which
exert good load bearing characteristics up to their fusion temperatures as they soften over a
relatively narrow range of temperature Thus, for good results, refractoriness-under-load test is
performed by applying a load of (3.5 or 1.75 kg/cm2) to the refractory specimen (of size 5cm2
and 75cm high). The sample is then kept in carbon-resistance furnace and heating is stated at the
rate of 100C/munute. The height of the specimen is plotted vs. temperature and RUL is
expressed as the temperature at which 10% deformation takes place.

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Q.No.2: Define Insulators? What are thermal insulators? Discuss their engineering
applications and characteristics
Answer: Insulators: The substances which are capable of retarding or prohibiting the flow of
heat or electricity or sound through them are known as insulators or Insulating materials.
Insulators can be broadly classified into three categories.
Thermal Insulators
Sound Insulators
Electrical Insulators
Thermal insulators: Thermal insulators are those materials with very low thermal conductivities.
These essentially prevent heat loss. Insulation capacity is inversely proportional to conductivity.
The properties of a thermal insulator depends on
i. Pores: Most of the insulators are fibrous or granular bodies. They have pores. If the
pore size is big, then heat transfer by convection is possible. So low pore size is
preferred.
ii. Presence of moisture: Moisture enhance thermal conductivity because, water has
more thermal conductivity than air. If the pores are closed type then water can water
cannot enter. Thermal insulator should not react with water.
An ideal thermal insulator should have the following characteristics:
a. Thermal conductivity should be low
b. It should be fire proof
c. Should resist moisture absorption
d. Chemically inert
e. Low dense material
f. Should be able to bear strong load
g. Should be stable
h. Should be odorless
i. Should be inexpensive
Thermal insulators are two types:
Organic: An organic thermal insulator poses large number of small pores. These are naturally
occurring compounds.
Inorganic: Inorganic thermal insulators are asbestos, glass, calcium silicate etc.

Thermal Characteristic properties Engg. Applications.


insulators
Glass wool Soft and flexible, fire and Used as thermal insulating material in industrial
heat proof, insect proof and domestic appliances like ovens, motors and
vacuum cleaners.
Cork Possesses good porosity, Used in the lining of cold storage, bottle stoppers,
compressibility and water refrigerators.
resistance a part from good
thermal resistance.
Asbestos Fire and weather proof, Used as heat insulator in boilers, for roof covering
durable, light in weight. in the form of sheets.
Cellular Possess large number of Used for heat insulation in cold storage and
rubber cellular cavities. refrigerators.
Vermiculites Mica like minerals Used as heat insulators for furnace and also as
sound insulators.
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Q.No.3: Define insulators? What are electrical insulators? Discuss their characteristics &
engineering applications.
Answer: Insulators: The substances which are capable of retarding or prohibiting the flow of
heat or electricity or sound through them are known as insulators or Insulating materials.
Insulators can be broadly classified into three categories.
Thermal Insulators
Sound Insulators
Electrical Insulators
Electrical insulators: The materials which are used to prevent the loss of electricity through
certain parts in an electrical system are known as electrical insulating materials or Dielectricals.
These materials apart from acting as electrical insulators can also store electric charge. Thus,
these materials have two functions, Insulation and Storage of charge.
Characteristics:
1. A good insulator possesses low electrical conductivity or high resistivity. Typical
values being 109 to 1020 ohm-cm at room temperature.
2. Dialectics used in capacitor should have high dielectric constant so that grater
amount of energy can be stored in relatively thin insulation.
3. In an insulating material dielectric loss are caused by a. the absorption of
electrical energy and leakage of current through the material.
This due to the fact that the absorption of electrical energy, under an alternating
field gives rise to dissipation of the electrical energy in the insulating material.
The leakage of current through the insulating material takes place as a result of
conduction, especially at higher temperature.
4. Good dielectric materials should have low porosity. this is due to the fact that
higher porosity increases the moisture holding capacity and moisture adversely
affects the electrical properties.
5. An ideal insulator should have least thermal expansion and contraction.
6. Good insulating materials should be chemically inert to acids, alkalies, oils,
solvents, moisture, gas fumes etc.
Important electrical insulating materials and their engineering applications:

Insulator Engg. Applications.


Air It provides insulation between the overhead transmission lines.
Nitrogen It is used in transformers to replace the harmful oxidising atmosphere.
under high pressure, it is also used as dielectric in certain electrical
capacitors.
Electronegative gases SF6 is used in electrical devices like capacitors, cables.
like SF6 & CCl4
Mineral oils In transformers, a light fraction oil like transil oil is used to allow
converting cooling. under pressure, light oils are also used in oil filled
high voltage cables. more viscous or talky oils are used to impregnate
the paper in solid type of cable.
Silicone fluids Used as coolants in radio, pulse and aircraft transformers.
Fluorinated liquids Used in transformers and small electric and radio devices.
Drying oils Used in transformers and motor coils.
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Non drying oils Used in insulating resin compositions


Paper & press boards Used for winding, cable coil insulation, primary dielectrics in
capacitors, windings and mica insulations, slot insulations of electrical
machines etc.
Inorganic fibrous Below red heat it is used in woven cloth tape, paper and wire
insulators (asbestos) covering.
Insulating varnishes Used for impregnation coatings and adhesion impregnation of fibrous
materials for improving the mechanical strength, and decreasing the
hygroscopic of the fibrous material by replacing air in their pores.
Synthetic rubbers Silicsone rubbers used in ship wiring, aircraft cables, high temperature
arcs, motor winding insulations.

Synthetic resins PVC used in flexible wire coverings, cable sheathings, insulating
electric wires and low voltage cables.
Teflon used as capacitor dielectrics and insulating material for almost
all kinds of windings.
Rigid insulators(Glass) Used for wire coverings, line insulations, glass to metal seals and
other electrical engineering applications.

Q.No.4: Define Refractories, classify it, to explain Conditional for failure of a refractory
material & Write a short note on Silica bricks.
Answer: Refractories are ceramic materials that can withstand high temperatures as well as
abrasive and corrosive action of molten metals; slag’s and gases, without suffering a deformation
in shape. The main objective of a refractory is to confine heat.
On the basis of the chemical properties of their constituent substances, refractories are
classified into three categories:
i. Neutral refractories
ii. Acid refractories
iii. Basic refractories
i. Neutral refractories like graphite, zirconia and SiC refractories. These refractories are made
from weakly basic/acidic materials like carbon, zirconia (ZiO2) and chromite (FeO.CrO2)
ii. Acid refractories like alumina, silica and fire clay refractories. These refractories consist of
acidic materials like alumina (Al2O3) and silica (SiO2). These refractory materials are resistant
to acidic slag (like silica) and are often used as contaminant vessel for them. On the other hand,
they are readily attacked by basic slag’s (like CaO, MgO etc.) and contact with these oxide
materials should be avoided.
iii. Basic refractories like Magnetite and Dolomite refractories. These refractories consist of
basic materials like CaO, MgO etc. and are especially resistant to basic slags. That’s why they
find extensive use in some steel making open hearth furnaces. The presence of acidic materials
like silica is deleterious to their high-temperature performance.

Conditional for failure of a refractory material:


i. Using a refractory material which does not have required heat, corrosion and abrasion
resistance;
ii. Using refractory material of higher thermal expansion;
iii. Using a refractory of refractoriness less than that of the operating temperature;

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iv. Using basic refractory in a furnace in which acidic reactants and/or products are being
processed and vice-versa;
v. Using lower-duty refractory bricks in a furnace than the actual load of raw materials in
products;
vi. Using refractories which undergo considerable volume changes during their use at high
temperature.

Silica Bricks:
Preparation: The raw material used for the manufacture of silica bricks are quartz, quartzite,
sand, sandstone, ganister etc. siliceous rock is first crushed and ground with 2% lime & water.
The resultant thick paste is then made into bricks by machine pressing. After drying, bricks are
burnt in kilns. In about 24 hours, the temperature is slowly raised to about 15000C. This high
temperature is maintained for about 12 hours. This step is essential since it allows quartzite to be
converted into cristobalite careful cooling is then done and it takes about 1 to 2 weeks.
Cristobalite is slowly changed into tridymite during cooling and in the final brick, the mixture of
two results.
Properties:
a. Silica bricks are yellowish in colour with speaks throughout the body.
b. These bricks are acidic and are therefore suitable for acidic furnace charges.
c. Silica bricks are remarkable for their load bearing capacity. They can withstand a load of
about 3.5 kg/cm2 up to about 16000C.
d. Silica bricks are not susceptible to thermal spalling at temperature below 8000C.
e. These bricks are light and possess high rigidity and mechanical strength.
f. These bricks do not contract in use.
Applications: Silica bricks are used in lining roof arches of open hearth furnaces and
reverberatory furnaces, gas retort and walls of coke ovens.

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