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# INDUCTION FURNACES Introduction

Induction melting of cast iron or steel and their preheating in typical induction crucible furnaces belongs to important and commonly used industrial technologies. Quality of final products strongly depends on homogeneity of metal composition as well as on uniform temperature distribution within all the volume of melt. The process is, however, typical by considerable consumption of electric energy. In order to reach high efficiency of the corresponding device that must, moreover, work reliably and effectively as much as possible, we need to know perfectly all physical phenomena accompanying its operation. And this is an uneasy business, still representing a challenge. The main reason is that these phenomena are characterized by interaction of several physical fields. The dominant one is always harmonic or periodical electromagnetic field producing temperature field and field of flow. All these fields may strongly influence one another, which significantly complicates the situation. The mathematical models of the process [1]–[3] are then usually given by a set of partial differential equations (often nonlinear and nonstationary) whose coefficients are functions of the state variables such as temperature and pressure (and other problems may occur in association with setting of the correct boundary conditions). And even when the model well describes the physical reality, the present knowledge and computational technology allow its solving only under various simplifications. Of course, research in the area of ever more perfect methods and algorithms for solving the above tasks is conducted at a number of universities and other scientific institutions all over the world, but anyway, there still remains much to do to describe the physical reality in its whole complexity. The solution of the task starts from constitution of the basic mathematical model consisting of the Helmholtz elliptical partial differential equation for electromagnetic field, nonlinear Navier-Stokes equation for steady-state flow field and Fourier diffusion parabolic equation supplemented with velocity component for non-stationary temperature field. Meniscus of the free surface boundary is also taken into consideration. The final result of mathematical modelling is the evolution of temperature to the moment when its average value in molten steel reaches the requested value. The simulations are realized by means of the 3D professional FEM-based codes ANSYS supplemented by several codes prepared by the authors. The important point of the paper is represented by an illustrative example describing modelling of 204the process in a particular technological line for casting of iron rolls. The results are discussed in order to establish next research steps.

Frequencies used in induction melting vary from 50 cycles per second (mains frequency) to 10. The higher the operating frequency. The power cubmicle converts the voltage and frequency of main supply. ot that required for electrical melting. There are two main types of induction furnace: coreless and channel. the interaction of the magnetic field and the electrical currents flowing in the induction coil produce a stirring action within the molten metal. To protect it from overheating. Induction heating is simply a method of transferring heat energy. Coil shape is contained within a steel shell and magnetic shielding is used to prevent heating of the supporting shell. The shell is supported on trunnions on which the furnace tils to facilitate pouring. The coreless induction furnace is commonly used to melt all grades of steels and irons as well as many non-ferrous alloys. The stirring action within the bath is important as it helps with mixing of alloys and melting of turnings as well as homogenising of temerature throughout the furnace. Coreless induction furnaces The heart of the coreless induction furnace is the coil. which consists of a hollow section of heavy duty. The coreless induction furnace has largely replaced the crucible furnace. however. When the charge material is molten.000 cycles per second (high frequency). The crucible is formed by ramming a granular refractory between the coil and a hollow internal former which is melted away with the first heat leaving a sintered lining. the water bing recirculated and cooled in a cooling tower. The degree of stirring action is influenced by the power and frequency applied as well as the size and shape of the coil and the density and viscosity of the molten metal. or secondary coil. Induction furnaces are ideal for melting and alloying a wide variety of metals with minimum melt losses. high conductivity copper tubing which is wound into a helical coil. high current in the metal. lining wear and oxidation of alloys. Excessive stirring can increase gas pick up. . the coil is water-cooled. the greater the maximum amount of power that can be applied to a furnace of given capacity and the lower the amount of turbulence induced. especially for melting of high melting point alloys. This stirring action forces the molten metal to rise upwards in the centre causing the characteristic meniscus on the surface of the metal. The furnace is ideal for remelting and alloying because of the high degree of control over temperature and chemistry while the induction current provides good circulation of the melt. little refining of the metal is possible.Induction Furnaces The principle of induction melting is that a high voltage electrical source from a primary coil induces a low voltage.

The circulation of the molten metal effects a useful stirring action in the melt. The heat generated within the loop causes the metal to circulate into the main well of the furnace. . This assembly forms a simple transformer in which the molten metal loops comprises the secondary component. Channel induction furnaces can be used as holders for metal melted off peak in coreless induction induction units thereby reducing total melting costs by avoiding peak demand charges. The induction unit consists of an iron core in the form of a ring around which a primary induction coil is wound. Inductotherm removable crucible melting furnaces are quick and efficient nonferrous melters. Inductotherm offers several styles of removable crucible furnaces. Attached to the steel shell and connected by a throat is an induction unit which forms the melting component of the furnace. Channel induction furnaces are commonly used for melting low melting point alloys and or as a holding and superheating unit for higher melting point alloys such as cast iron. For the greatest flexibility when changing alloys.Channel induction furnaces The channel induction furnace consists of a refractory lined steel shell which contains the molten metal.

Single. Double & Multiple Pushout Furnaces: The Double Push-Out furnace is about 8% more efficient than the lift-swing because its coils are tapered to the crucible shape for improved energy transfer and more even heating that extends crucible life. thousands of additional castings per year can be obtained. And. Lift Swing Furnaces: The Lift-Swing furnace is a free-standing unit that installs right on the factory floor and is an excellent alternative to the push-out furnace when sub-surface conditions or foundation restrictions make it impractical to provide a pit for the push-out furnace’s cylinders. because power can be switched from one coil to the other in just seconds. .

Induction heating can produce high power densities which allow short interaction times to reach the required temperature. power-density and interaction time. which can require specialized engineering and 'copper-fitting'.mainly arising from the need to produce dedicated inductors for many applications. This gives tight control of the heating pattern with the pattern following the applied magnetic field quite closely and allows reduced thermal distortion and damage. This ability can be used in hardening to produce parts with varying properties. . The most common hardening process is to produce a localised surface hardening of an area that needs wear-resistance. while retaining the toughness of the original structure as needed elsewhere.Heat treatment Induction heating is often used in the heat treatment of metal items.induction soldering/brazing as a means of joining metal components and induction annealing to selectively soften a selected area of a steel part. There are limits to the flexibility of the process . This is quite expensive and requires the marshalling of high current-densities in small copper inductors. The depth of induction hardened patterns can be controlled through choice of induction-frequency. The most common applications are induction hardening of steelparts.

Sir William Siemens took out patents for electric furnaces of the arc type. Arc furnaces were also used to prepare calcium carbide for use in carbide lamps. The Sanderson brothers formed The Sanderson Brothers steel Co.Electric arc furnace An electric arc furnace (EAF) is a furnace that heats charged material by means of an electric arc. with a commercial plant established in the United States in 1907. When Nucor—now one of the largest steel producers in the U. The Girod furnace is similar to the Héroult furnace. where the use of an EAF allowed the plants to vary production according to local demand. Pennsylvania. Initially "electric steel" was a specialty product for such uses as machine tools and spring steel. Pinchon attempted to create an electrothermic furnace in 1853. compared with US\$1.S.000 per ton of annual installed capacity for an integrated steel mill—allowed mills to be quickly established in war-ravaged Europe.S. Pittsburgh. New York. and fasteners) in the U. welding was investigated by Pepys in 1815. a number of men had employed an electric arc to melt iron. TheStessano electric furnace is an arc type furnace that usually rotates to mix the bath. rod and bar. market.800 ° C. Arc furnaces used in research laboratories and by dentists may have a capacity of only a few dozen grams. Sir Humphry Davy conducted an experimental demonstration in 1810.S. The low capital cost for a minimill—around US\$140–200 per ton of annual installed capacity. and also allowed them to successfully compete with the big United States steelmakers. This pattern was also followed . Arc furnaces differ from induction furnaces in that the charge material is directly exposed to an electric arc.000 °C. such as Bethlehem Steel and U. they chose to start up a mini-mill. While EAFs were widely used in World War II for production of alloy steels. The first electric arc furnaces were developed by Paul Héroult. (3272 °F) while laboratory units can exceed 3. soon followed by other manufacturers. it was only later that electric steelmaking began to expand. carbon steel "long products" (structural steel. with an EAF as its steelmaking furnace. and the current in the furnace terminals passes through the charged material. (5432 °F). and. for low-cost.—decided to enter the long products market in 1969. in 1878–79. This furnace is now on display at Station Square. installing the first electric arc furnace in the U. Arc furnaces range in size from small units of approximately one ton capacity (used in foundries for producingcast iron products) up to about 400 ton units used for secondary steelmaking. of France. History In the 19th century. Industrial electric arc furnace temperatures can be up to 1.S. the companies that followed them into mini-mill operations concentrated on local markets for long products. in Syracuse. wire. Steel. Whilst Nucor expanded rapidly in the Eastern US.

and the tilting platform on which the furnace rests.globally. so that ladles and slag pots can easily be maneuvered under either end of the furnace. brick shell. tapping spout at left. molten bath (red). and a refractorylined bowl-shaped hearth. so that as the electrodes wear. still using the EAF production method. which consists of the refractory that lines the lower bowl. covered with a retractable roof. Nucor made the decision to expand into the flat products market. usually water-cooled in larger sizes. the hearth. the furnace is often raised off the ground floor. and can be shaped as a section of a sphere. while integrated mills. and typically in segments with threaded couplings. or in an eccentric bottom tapping furnace (see below). A typical alternating current furnace has three electrodes. Separate from the furnace structure is the electrode support and electrical system. The arc forms between the charged material and the electrode. Two configurations are possible: the electrode supports and the roof tilt with the furnace. which consists of the sidewalls and lower steel "bowl". which may be refractory-lined or water-cooled. In modern meltshops. cornered the markets for "flat products"—sheet steel and heavier steel plate. with EAF steel production primarily used for long products. or are fixed to the raised platform. or as a frustum (conical section). An electric arc furnace used for steelmaking consists of a refractory-lined vessel. The furnace is primarily split into three sections: the shell. Electrodes are round in section. refractory brick movable roof. and through which one or more graphite electrodes enter the furnace. the charge is heated both by current passing through the charge and by the . through which one or more graphite electrodes enter. using blast furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces. Construction A schematic cross-section through an EAF. The roof also supports the refractory delta in its centre. Three electrodes (black). the hearth has the shape of a halved egg. the roof. In 1987. new segments can be added. The hearth may be hemispherical in shape.

Other DC-based furnaces have a similar arrangement. and a "power-on time" (the time that steel is being melted with an arc) of approximately 37 minutes. making the heating of the steel more uniform.000 volt-amperes (60 MVA). Additional chemical energy is provided by injecting oxygen and carbon into the furnace. These can be made from copper-clad steel or aluminium. historically this was done through lances in the slag door. AC furnaces usually exhibit a pattern of hot and cold-spots around the hearth perimeter. with a tap weight of 300 metric tonnes and a transformer of 300 MVA. In a modern shop such a furnace would be expected to produce a quantity of 80 metric tonnes of liquid steel in approximately 60 minutes from charging with cold scrap to tapping the furnace. A mid-sized modern steelmaking furnace would have a transformer rated about 60. it is installed in a vault. with a secondary voltage between 400 and 900 volts and a secondary current in excess of 44. increasing efficiency. and are raised to allow removal of the furnace roof.. but have electrodes for each shell and one set of electronics. the theoretical minimum amount of energy required to melt a tonne of scrap steel is 300 kWh (melting point 1520°C/2768°F). To produce a ton of steel in an electric arc furnace requires approximately 400 kilowatt-hours per short ton or about 440 kWh per metric tonne. and can produce a heat in 30–40 minutes. Modern systems use "hot arms". The regulating system maintains approximately constant current and power input during the melting of the charge. The mast arms holding the electrodes carry heavy busbars. 300 MVA EAF mentioned above will require approximately 132 MWh of energy to melt the steel. These furnaces have a taphole that passes vertically through the hearth and shell. In comparison. even though scrap may move under the electrodes as it melts. which may use either electric winch hoists or hydraulic cylinders. as well as ongoing research to improve furnace efficiency. Since the electrodes move up and down automatically for regulation of the arc. The furnace is built on a tilting platform so that the liquid steel can be poured into another vessel for transport. Modern furnaces mount oxygen-fuel burners in the sidewall and use them to provide chemical energy to the cold-spots. Enormous variations exist in furnace design details and operation. depending on the end product and local conditions. The largest scrap-only furnace (in terms of tapping weight and transformer rating) is in Turkey. Modern plants may have two shells with a single set of electrodes that can be transferred between the two. with the cold-spots located between the electrodes. heavy water-cooled cables connect the bus tubes/arms with the transformer located adjacent to the furnace. where the whole arm carries the current.radiant energy evolved by the arc. Therefore. The electrodes are automatically raised and lowered by a positioning system. Originally. but often modern furnaces have an eccentric bottom tap-hole (EBT) to reduce inclusion of nitrogen and slag in the liquid steel. such as olivine. one shell preheats scrap while the other shell is utilised for meltdown. when it is closed off. and is set off-centre in the narrow "nose" of the egg-shaped hearth. the 300-tonne. now this is mainly done through multiple wall-mounted injection units. To protect the transformer from heat. Electric arc steelmaking is only economical where there is plentiful .000. allowing for the power factor. or "heat".000 amperes. which may be hollow water-cooled copper pipes carrying current to the electrode holders. The operation of tilting the furnace to pour molten steel is called "tapping". all steelmaking furnaces had a tapping spout closed with refractory that washed out when the furnace was tilted. It is filled with refractory sand. basic oxygen furnaces can have a capacity of 150–300 tonnes per batch.