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Continuous Casting of Steel and Simulation for Cost Reduction

Article · August 2014

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Continuous Casting of Steel and

Simulation for Cost Reduction
Shravan Kumar1, Ritika Singh2, Isham Panigrahi3 and Ramesh K. Nayak3
B.Tech., Electronics and Electrical Engg., E-mail :, 2B.Tech., Mechanical Engg., 3Asst.
Professor, School of Mechanical Engineering, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

This paper discusses the results of applying a simulation software ‘Steel University β-simulink’ version 1.60 on continuous
casting of steel in terms of several operational parameters. On analysing the data yielded by the simulation software, cooling
water flow rate and casting speed were optimized to arrive at a minimum cost of production. Without compromising on the
quality of the cast product, the minimum cost per metre calculated was USD 49.03 and cost per tonne is USD 99.29. To achieve
this, the casting speed, as per simulation, should be 0.8 m/min, cooling water flow rate should be 0.6 kg/kg steel and viscosity
of mould powder should be 0.21poise.

Keywords : Continuous casting, Mould oscillation, Meniscus, Torch cutoff, Ingot casting, Caster, Sinter.

Introduction pouring steel in stationary moulds[8]. This process was

known as ingot casting. Usually higher capital investment
Continuous casting is a special casting process to convert
is required for continuous casting of molten metal but at
liquid form of metals to solidified form in different shapes
the same time has less running cost comparatively. Thus,
and sizes in a continuous process. It consists of several
this is the most energy and cost-efficient process so it is
complex commercial process and routes to obtain the end
used for mass production of semi-finished metal products.
result. The molten metal is poured from top of turret and it
Several qualities of products in various shapes like square,
solidifies against mould walls, then it is taken out for further
rectangular, circular, dog-bone shape i.e., I-shape and H-
process to get different grades of semi-finished metal.
shape can be obtained by different types of casting
Several other alloys are also mixed with it to get different
machines like vertical caster, horizontal caster and vertical
grades of steel. Before the process of continuous casting
with curve-type caster. Figure 1 and Fig. 2 show different
was introduced in the 1950s, “ingots” were prepared by
shapes of metal products being produced by continuous
caster and some most common types of casters existing
Continuous Casting of Steel[8]
The process of continuous casting was first introduced in
1858 by Bessemer but the process of continuous casting
of steel came into process of commercial use in 1960s.
This is because of several severe technical difficulties like
breakouts which were noticed during earlier attempts. The
steel shell during solidification sticks to the mould and tears.
And the molten steel is allowed to pour over the bottom
part of the caster. The vertically oscillating mould was
suggested by Junghans in 1934. It was based on the
negative strip concept, which allowed travelling of the mould
more rapidly than the steel shell in downward direction
during some part of oscillation cycle. This reduces the
Fig.1 : Continuous cast shapes (in mm). chances of any sticking. Several other new developments

Indian Foundry Journal Vol 60 z No.8 zAugust 2014

and transformations have evolved the method of continuous Often they get entrapped in the solidifying shell causing
casting of steel into an advanced and intelligent process. embrittling and internal defects in the finished product. They
This process is being used now-a-days for production of may also sometimes circulate to the uppermost surface of
almost 90% of the total steel in the world. It includes the the mould flux. The schematic of mould region in steel
production of various stainless steel grades, alloy steel, casting process is shown in Fig. 3.
plain carbon steel and ultra low carbon steel. Various types
of casting process for different metals depending upon its
metallurgical quality as shown in Fig. 2 are in use practically.
Vertical casting is used for aluminium and other metals for
special application. Horizontal casting is used for non-
ferrous alloys, copper and steel. Curved casting is used
mainly for steel. In some cases, where low production is
needed, thin strip casting is also preferred so as to minimise
cost of rolling.

Fig. 3 : Schematic of mould region in steel casting

*Adopted from [10].

To provide chemical and thermal insulation to the molten

steel, oxide based mould powder is added at the top
surface, which melts and sinters at the upper layer of the
molten steel. The composition of powder decides its
melting rate and the ability of the molten flux to flow so as
to absorb solid. Consumption of mould powder varies
Fig.2: Examples of continuous casters. inversely with the speed of casting as shown in Fig. 4.
Solidification of liquid flux occurs against the cold wall of
Continuous casting is the process whereby molten steel at mould which results in formation of solid flux rim. This solid
1,600°C is solidified into a semi-finished billet, bloom or flux rim decreases the heat transfer capacity at the meniscus.
slab for subsequent rolling in the hot strip mills and cold Residual fluxes are consumed at the space in between mould
rolling mills[6]. and the shell due to downward flow of the steel shell. They
allow uniformity in heat transfer and dislodge any sticking.
To start steel casting, a dummy bar is used to first seal the
bottom of the mould. Straightener Withdrawal Units is used The tundish can also function as a refining vessel which is
to hold this bar in place hydraulically which prevents outflow used to float out detrimental inclusions in the layer of slag
of molten steel from the mould[4]. The ladle carrying molten over the liquid metal. The inclusion particles in solid form
metal is positioned over the two arms of butterfly-shaped may form defects in surface of the final product like slivers
turret. The turret can be rotated by 180º for loading and which occurs at the time of rolling operation. These
unloading the ladle. The molten metal flows into the mould inclusions may also cause local internal stress concentration
from the ladle, passing through the tundish. It is protected which inhibits the fatigue life. The walls of the mould are
from air by a slag cover in each vessel containing molten equipped with water-cooled system to freeze the molten
steel and by ceramic nozzles. This maintains the quality of steel and thus forming solid shell. As the formation of solid
steel by preventing the formation of oxides in steel. Enough shell occurs against mould walls, it is withdrawn continuously
metal is stored in the tundish to be consumed during casting through drive rolls at the speed at which liquid metal flows
for the uninterrupted inflow to the mould, even at the time in the machine termed as casting speed.
of changing the ladles. The solid impurities such as alumina The vertical oscillation of the mould dislodges any sticking
of various sizes and shapes are present in the molten steel. of the shell with the mould walls. The shell is withdrawn
These particles during flow collide to form larger clusters continuously from the mould through drive rolls at the
and sometimes get attached to the wall of the entry nozzle. casting speed between 12 to 300 inches per minute. The
Vol 60 z No.8 zAugust 2014 Indian Foundry Journal

having stiff backing plates. Square blooms of (400×600)

mm cross-section are also cast using similar moulds. Small
square billets of (100-200) mm thickness are cast using
moulds of single-piece tube. These solid casts are rolled in
various long products like bars, rails and various sections.
To solidify (1-3) mm thick steel sheets, a new process of
strip casting is now being developed which employs two
large rotating rolls to serve as mould walls. Bulging due to
internal liquid pressure must be lessened. This can be
achieved by providing a series of supporting rolls during
casting of large cross-sections such as slabs. These rolls
support the soft steel shell between mould exit and the
desired metallurgical length. Bending of the strands through
the transition can be avoided by forcing it through extra
Fig .4 : Rate of mould powder consumption rolls. Defects like internal cracks and segregation may occur
*Adopted from [11]. improper roll support and alignment which may result in
degradation of the final product. After the cast steel comes
steady state is achieved as the casting speed is same as out of the caster, reheating is done at uniform temperature
the inflow rate of liquid metal. The flow rate of liquid is to enhance its quality and is then rolled into coils or sheets
regulated by controlling the opening of the nozzle. This as per requirement.
precise control is achieved through feedback signal from a
level sensor at mould. The primary solidification occurring Simulation Result and Discussion
at the meniscus is the most crucial part of the process. This Simulation of continuous casting of steel is done in Steel
occurs at the point where the upper part of the shell meets university β-simulink version-1.60 and the results are present
the liquid metal surface and the mould. At this point, surface here. The standard steel university simulink system is shown
of the finished product is created. If any level fluctuation here in Fig. 5. Here we cast 3 ladles full of molten steel
occurs, defects such as cracks on the surface can be formed. metal into solid form using bloom-type casting machine,
Defects can be avoided if mould slag or oil is added to the keeping the internal quality, external quality and inclusion
steel meniscus. This slag or oil flows through the gap in content of the final product in mind. The respective
between shell and mould. The job of mould slag layer is to waveforms are given in the figures below. Figure 6 shows
prevent the steel from direct contact of air. Along with that, steel temperature in ladle and tundish and Fig.7 shows liquid
it also provides thermal and chemical insulation, absorbs metal flow from ladle and tundish during casting plotted in
inclusion and lubricates the contact. The solidified shell of time domain. Various parameters involved in the process
steel may be as thin as 6-20 mm below the mould exit are varied so as to find the point of minimum cost of
supports the remaining liquid. Cooling of the strand surface production maintaining the quality of the product.
lying in between the support rolls is done through water Temperature control of molten steel and vessels play a
and air mist sprays. The surface temperature at strand is major role in casting. Too low temperature may increase
the risk of solidification in vessel and too high temperature
controlled for minimal reheating by spray flow rates until
may damage the equipments and also increase the cost of
the molten core gets solidified.
heating. So in this simulation, the temperature of steel was
Oxyacetylene torches or automatic cutting devices are used maintained at 1600°C throughout the process. Along with
to cut the strand into slabs and billets of preferred length that, stoke rate and frequency also were kept constant,
after the centre solidifies at the requisite metallurgical length varying other parameters like casting speed, mould powder
of the caster (10-40 m). Time to cut the strand depends or viscosity, cooling water flow rate to get the minimum
upon composition and dimension of the strand and possible cost per metre and cost per metric tonne. The
generally varies in between 2 to 10 minutes. Large result of which is recorded and presented in Table-1. Table-
rectangular slabs of thickness (50-250) mm and width (0.5- 2 indicates the respective viscosity of the different mould
2.2) mm are cast using heavy, four-piece plate moulds powders used.

Indian Foundry Journal Vol 60 z No.8 zAugust 2014

Table-1 : Derived Parameters of Continuous Casting Simulation

Sl. No. Mould Cooling Target Stoke, S Frequency, f Casting Coast Cost per
Powder* Water Flow Casting (mm)* (per min)* Speed, per metric
(η) Rate (kg water / Speed Vc Metre ($) tonne ($)
kg steel) (m/min) (m/min)
1 A 0.6 1.4 3 245 0.7 60.65 122.83
2 A 0.5 1.4 3 245 0.7 60.57 122.68
3 A 0.4 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.84 111.07
4 A 0.3 1.4 3 245 0.7 55.42 112.24
5* B 0.6 1.4 3 245 0.7 53.48 108.3
6 B 0.5 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.62 110.63
7 B 0.4 1.4 3 245 0.7 53.80 108.96
8 B 0.3 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.06 109.48
9 C 0.6 1.4 3 245 0.7 59.93 121.37
10 C 0.5 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.94 111.27
11 C 0.4 1.4 3 245 0.7 55.00 111.39
12 C 0.3 1.4 3 245 0.7 57.34 118.72
13 D 0.6 1.4 3 245 0.7 61.09 123.73
14 D 0.5 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.51 110.39
15 D 0.4 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.78 111.01
16 D 0.3 1.4 3 245 0.7 61.03 123.11
17 E 0.6 1.4 3 245 0.7 61.14 123.82
18 E 0.5 1.4 3 245 0.7 64.03 129.68
19 E 0.4 1.4 3 245 0.7 61.67 124.90
20 E 0.3 1.4 3 245 0.7 62.26 126.10
21 B 0.6 1.2 3 245 0.6 68.92 139.59
22** B 0.6 1.6 3 245 0.8 49.03 99.29
23 B 0.6 1.8 3 245 0.9 73.05 147.95
24 B 0.6 1.4 3 245 0.7 54.23 109.83

Fig. 5 : Standard Steel University β-simulink Version 1.60 system.

Vol 60 z No.8 zAugust 2014 Indian Foundry Journal

Fig. 7 : Steel flow plot of ladle and tundish.

Fig. 6 : Temperature plot of ladle and tundish.
per metre and cost per metric tonne.
Table-2 : Viscocity of Different Mould Powders References
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Indian Foundry Journal Vol 60 z No.8 zAugust 2014

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