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SELECTING LINING MATERIALS TO ACHIEVE LONG &

PRODUCTIVE BLAST FURNACE HEARTH CAMPAIGNS



2012 GrafTech International Holdings Inc.
UCAR is a registered trademark used under license by GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and HotPressed is a trademark of
GrafTech Intenational Holdings Inc.
SELECTING LINING MATERIALS TO ACHIEVE LONG AND
PRODUCTIVE BLAST FURNACE HEARTH CAMPAIGNS
1


Peter Sylvn
2

Peter L. Duncanson
3

Lus Fontes
4


Abstract
When designing, engineering and constructing the hearth wall of a blast furnace,
traditional thinking predicts that the hearth wall will erode to the locations of the
1,150C isotherm. This philosophy is based on the fact that at elevated carbon
content (>2%), iron solidifies at 1,150C. In strict thermo-chemical theory, it is
impossible for a carbon hearth wall refractory to wear beyond that point. Operators
even use this theory in their online thermal models to estimate current wear by
extrapolating the location of the 1,150C isotherm from actual temperature
measurements. As we will show examples of in this paper, the theory fails to explain
why in reality, most large-block hearth walls experience much more severe wear over
their lifetimes. It is often reported that block hearth walls have minimal refractory
remaining, the carbon blocks are cracked and brittle, and that the wear dictated the
end of the furnace campaign, or at least a major repair. Such results are inconsistent
with the theory, yet its use continues without regard for its shortcomings. It is also
well known that oxidation, thermal stress and chemical attack occur at such elevated
temperatures in the blast furnace hearth wall. This paper discuss these root causes
of hearth failure in more detail and suggest how these should be taken in
consideration when selecting refractory materials and designing hearth walls for best
performance in modern high productivity blast furnaces, in line with steel companies
continuous drive for better results.

Key words: blast furnace, refractories, UCAR, hearth lining, carbon, brick,
block





1
Technical contribution to the 6
th
International Congress on the Science and Technology of
Ironmaking ICSTI, 42
nd
International Meeting on Ironmaking and 13
th
International Symposium on
Iron Ore, October 14
th
to

18
th
,

2012, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil.
2
Peter Sylvn - Education: MS Electrical Engineering, Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden,
1981. Function: Marketing Director, UCAR Refractory Systems, GrafTech International,
Columbia, Tennessee, USA
3
Peter L. Duncanson - Education: BS Mechanical Engineering, 1984, BS Electrical Engineering,
1989, Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan; MBA, 2006, Vanderbilt University,
Nashville, Tennessee. Function: Sales Director, UCAR Refractory Systems, GrafTech
International, Columbia, Tennessee, USA
4
Lus Fontes - Education: Electronic Engineering, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 1972; MBA,
IBMEC, 2004. Function: Manager Latin America & Australia, UCAR Refractory Systems,
GrafTech International, Columbia, Tennessee, USA

2012 GrafTech International Holdings Inc.
UCAR is a registered trademark used under license by GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and HotPressed is a trademark of
GrafTech Intenational Holdings Inc.
1 ELEVATED TEMPERATURES CAUSING HEARTH WALL DEGRADATION

Because the UCARhearth wall refractory lining is thinner than a conventional block
lining and uses materials with high conductivity, it is sometimes believed that more
heat will be lost through the UCAR lining. This is a completely incorrect theory. If it
was impossible for the process to change the properties or configuration of either
material during operation, this may be true. But since all refractories can be affected
by the high temperatures experienced in the ironmaking process, neither the material
properties nor the system configuration remain the same as when they were first
installed. You might actually say that the lining is a part of the blast furnace process.
In fact all hearth lining systems will reach a thermal equilibrium that is mainly
determined by the boundary conditions (the ironmaking process and the cooling
system), not by the materials. Because the UCARlining is designed to be thermally
efficient and operate below the freezing temperature of the process, it reaches
equilibrium by adding process material to the hot face of the lining. Conventional
block systems, on the other hand, reach equilibrium by the damaging effects of
cracking, chemical attack, and erosion. Once the block hearth wall has reached
equilibrium, however, it is still in an unstable, damaged state, and subject to further
wear. This explains why most furnaces with block hearth walls finish their operating
campaigns with almost no remaining lining, and have often suffered breakouts at
some time during the campaign.


Figure 1. Drawing showing wear line in Salzgitter BF B at the end of the campaign (ECIC 2005).

German steel maker Salzgitter presented a paper at the ECIC in Stockholm (1) and in
the figure above, you can see the wear of the lining at the end of the campaign in
2004. The authors tell us that:
As you can see, the obvious problem was the wall. The wear line describes what is
often referred to as an elephants foot. The calculated carbon wall thickness in April

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UCAR is a registered trademark used under license by GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and HotPressed is a trademark of
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2003 was only 400 mm. In addition, we know that this type of carbon blocks is
susceptible for chemical attack and the creation of a so called brittle or mushy zone.
Calculating the theoretical remaining wall thickness therefore is very difficult and the
result might also be misleading. The actual wall thickness left could be lower than
calculated. But less than 400 mm carbon left could cause serious problems with the
cooling. If this was the case, the water spray would not be able to cool the shell as
there will be steam formation. Many attempts were made to bring down the
increasing refractory hearth wall temperature. The results from these different trials
were:
charging ilmenite to the burden. Up to 2.5% TiO
2
in the slag brought no
benefit;
the adding of titaniumagends to the blast reduced temperatures, but not very
much and not for longer periods;
tuyeres were plugged above this critical area, but we did not find evidence for
any effectiveness of these actions;
in 2002 we grouted the hearth in the areas with higher temperatures.
Sometimes this could help, but sometimes, 4 weeks after the grouting, the
refractory wall temperatures were higher than before.
As you can see, the actual hearth wall thickness was only 50 mm under tuyere 27,
not 400 mm.
(1)

The authors conclude by noting that the calculation indicating a 400 mm wall
thickness was wrong. The reason was a brittle or mushy zone found inside the
carbon wall. The decision to stop this furnace and do the relining was definitely
correct.
(1)

This is a typical story from a big block wall furnace at the end of its campaign, where
the carbon has been reduced to almost nothing in critical areas and where the
thermal models are no longer reliable.
Hearth wall composition can best be described as an evolution over time. For
example, the UCAR hearth wall with a standard thickness of 914 mm will have the
following thermal conditions when the furnace starts (Table 1):

Table 1. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
UCAR Freeze Lining Startup, no skull 1227 20.4

Note that the hot face temperature is below the freezing temperature for slag and
iron. This will cause slag to start freezing immediately on the surface, forming the
protective skull. The frozen layer will grow until the system reaches equilibrium, that
is, when the hot face temperature of the skull equals the freezing point of slag. When
this occurs, thermal conditions will be as follows (Table 2):

Table 2. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
UCAR Freeze Lining Startup, no skull 1227 20.4

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UCAR Freeze Lining Skull formed 689 11.3

Full skull formation usually takes a few weeks after the furnace has reached full
operating temperature. If the skull is ever lost (usually due to severe water leaks), it
will reform again in a short time. More on water leaks and oxidation later in this
paper.
These are in fact the typical conditions experienced by UCAR hearth wall users. The
temperature through the entire hearth wall thickness is so low that chemical attack
and thermal stress are prevented, and a long life is assured.
A conventional large block hearth wall has very different results. Van Laar & Andreev
claim that:
Ramming also provides set-backs as the material properties strongly depend on the
installation specification and it may hamper heat transfer to the cooling system.
Furthermore, ramming shows irreversible behavior, which can cause air gaps
between the lining and shell.
(2)

A typical configuration where the blocks are 1500 mm long with a ramming gap of 75
mm yields the following thermal results (Table 3):

Table 3. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
Conventional block lining Startup, no skull 1357 10.7

Although the heat flux is lower than the UCAR equilibrium case, the block lining is not
at equilibrium, and the hot face temperature is above the slag freezing point, so a
skull will not form. Because the block is large, it is operating at a high temperature,
and does not have sufficient expansion allowance, the block will crack (typically
within 200 mm of the shell). Van Laar and Andreev add this important fact to be
considered:
New materials, such as (ultra-)micropore carbons will impose higher loadings to the
shell due to higher modulus of elasticity and coefficient of thermal expansion and
require customized models.
(2)

The following thermal conditions result (Table 4).

Table 4. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
Conventional block lining Startup, no skull 1357 10.7
Conventional block lining Crack at 200 mm
from shell
1395 7.9


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UCAR is a registered trademark used under license by GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and HotPressed is a trademark of
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Figure 2. Typical cracks seen in large carbon blocks after a few years of operation.
The insulating effect of the crack lowers the heat flux but increases hot face
temperature, further inhibiting skull formation. At this point, two wear mechanisms
begin to act on the block: erosion from constant iron contact with the carbon, and
chemical attack in the zone where the block temperature is between 800C and
1100C. Chemical attack causes the carbon to become weak and brittle and lose its
conductivity, with the following result (Table 5).

Table 5. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
Conventional block lining Startup, no skull 1357 10.7
Conventional block lining Crack at 200 mm from shell 1395 7.9
Conventional block lining Chemical attack zone i n
block
1440 4.5

During this evolution of cracks and chemical attack, temperature readings near the
outside face will actually be lower and more stable, giving the operator a false sense
of security, as Salzgitter noted.
(1)

As erosion occurs and the wall becomes thinner, hot face temperature gradual drops
until it reaches the point where a skull can start to form. Unfortunately, erosion will
eventually reach the chemically attacked zone in the block, but its low strength makes
it incapable of standing up to iron contact, and the entire brittle zone is lost in a short
time. The thermal profile then looks like this (Table 6).

Table 6. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
Conventional block lining Startup, no skull 1357 10.7
Conventional block lining Crack at 200 mm from shell 1395 7.9
Conventional block lining Chemical attack zone in
block
1440 4.5

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Conventional block lining Brittle zone lost, <500 mm
remains
1324 13.2

At this point the skull can start to form (Table 7).

Table 7. Hearth Wall Thermal Conditions
Refractory Hearth System Lining Status
Carbon Hot Face
Temperature (C)
Heat Flux
(kW/m)
Conventional block lining Startup, no skull 1357 10.7
Conventional block lining Crack at 200 mm from shell 1395 7.9
Conventional block lining Chemical attack zone in
block
1440 4.5
Conventional block lining Brittle zone lost, <500 mm
remains
1324 13.2
Conventional block lining Brittle zone lost, skull forms 1131 11.3
Note the heat flux has finally reached equilibrium equal to the UCAR freeze lining
equilibrium, but it did so through a series of damaging events (cracks, chemical
attack, and erosion). Because the block is cracked in one or two places, the carbon
temperature is still in the range where the carbon is subject to chemical attack, and
the cycle of damage begins again. The lining is also more prone to iron and slag
penetration into the cracks, and ultimately catastrophic failure.


Figure 3. Severe cracking of blocks that, together with the ram joint, insulates the material from the
cooling.

We can conclude that although there are times, as shown above, in the erosion cycle
where the large block lining transfers less heat than the UCAR freeze lining, when the
large block lining begins to seriously degrade, heat losses can be higher than the
UCAR lining. Even more important than the heat loss is the stability - the UCAR
system is designed to prevent damage, maintain low temperatures, form and

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UCAR is a registered trademark used under license by GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and HotPressed is a trademark of
GrafTech Intenational Holdings Inc.
maintain a stable skull, establish a stable heat flux. This is why the UCAR freeze
lining has continually outperformed conventional large block hearth lining systems.
Richard Hood with TATA Steel summarizes the result at their four blast furnaces in
the UK, where they started investing in UCARlinings more than 25 years ago.
The hearth design now used at Scunthorpe has been a great success. Since its
adoption there has been no general sidewall wear, and no repeat of the destructive
elephants foot wear. There is no trend of loss of thickness or increase in temperature
at any point on the hearth that progresses with time or tonnes produced.
(3)


2 THE UCAR

LINING CONCEPT PREVENTING HEARTH WALL


DEGRADATION

The UCAR

hearth wall system is based on the fact that all significant hearth wear
mechanisms are related to high temperature as shown earlier in this paper. Alkali
attack only occurs above 800

C; thermal stress is a result of extreme thermal


expansion; and erosion occurs when iron contacts the carbon refractory directly for
extended periods.
(4)
Therefore if temperatures can be maintained at a relatively low
level, wear is prevented.
Figure 4 shows you the key elements of the UCAR

hearth wall system.



Figure 4. The UCAR

Lining Concept offering a ram free wall that freezes process skull.

The wall is thin compared to traditional block designs, typically less than one
meter thick, which promotes more efficient heat transfer and lower
temperatures at the hot face.
Small HotPressed

bricks are used instead of large blocks.


No ramming is required between the brick rings and the cooling elements
(shell or stave).

2012 GrafTech International Holdings Inc.
UCAR is a registered trademark used under license by GrafTech International Holdings Inc. and HotPressed is a trademark of
GrafTech Intenational Holdings Inc.
Special cement is used on all brick surfaces to fill the joints, bond bricks
together, transfer heat, and most importantly, absorb expansion without
creating stress.
HotPressed Brick technology gives the carbon and semigraphite refractories
low ash content and low permeability key properties to prevent hearth
degradation.
When these principles are followed, the hot face temperature of the hearth wall is
below the freezing temperature of slag and iron, and a protective skull is formed on
the face of the wall. The skull insulates the brick, pushing temperatures even lower,
and protects the brick from iron contact and erosion.

3 CONCLUSIONS

Operating a blast furnace is an art. It takes many years to acquire the expertise to
run a furnace at high productivity by balancing the ever changing parameters
affecting the result. Correct management of the blast furnace hearth requires
monitoring and understanding what remedial and preventive actions should be taken.
Much of the knowledge has been passed down through generations of iron makers
around the world, learning from science, experience and each other. Many will claim
that the most critical part of these furnaces are the hearth linings, as they many
times determine the campaign length. In this paper we have shown you the
differences between the two most common lining concepts used in blast furnaces
today. It explains why the UCAR

freeze lining concept utilizing small and unique


HotPressed

bricks has proven to offer superior performance for many furnace


operators around the world.
When the operator can be confident that the hearth lining will not let him down, he is
free to concentrate on meeting the quality and production demands of his customers.
GrafTech is pleased to have played a part in the achievements of many leading iron
makers and steel producers in the world and to have contributed to their continuous
improvement efforts and to the bottom line of their balance sheets for well over a
century. You can trust that we will be there to support you for at least another 100
years.

REFERENCES

1 J. Pethke, T. Stiovi, P. Sylvn, "New Hearth Lining Direction at Salzgitter Flachstahl
Blast Furnace B, 5th ECIC, Stockholm, Sweden (2005)
2 R. van Laar, K. Andreev, Blast Furnace Bottom and Hearth Expansion
Considerations, AISTech, Indianapolis, USA (2007)
3 R. Hood, The Theory And Practice Of Blast Furnace Hearth Management At Corus
Scunthorpe, AISTech, Indianapolis, USA (2007)
4 P. Sylvn, "The Truths and Myths of Freeze Lining Technology for Blast Furnaces", the
Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, Moscow, Russia (2004)


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