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Tap hole management practice
A. Chakraborty
Tap hole is an opening through which
molten metal & slag which accumulates
in the hearth is drained out.
The importance of tap hole can be guaged
from the fact that the stability of blast
furnace performance is dependent on the
ability to ensure satisfactory metal & slag
removal rates.This is particularly so
during periods of higher productivity &
higher slag volume regimes.
Poor drainage of furnace results in
metal & slag interfering with tuyere
raceways forcing excessive gas flow onto
the bosh region thus limiting bosh
refractory life.
There are two distinct portions of taphole
which is of utmost importance to a blast
furnace operator.The inner portion which is
embedded in the hearth & where mushroom
formation takes place & the outer portion
which is the visible portion of taphole.The good
practice is to take care of these two.
Let us concentrate on inner portion of taphole.We
know that hearth is subjected to thermo-mech.
Stress due to abrasion & friction owing to solid
coke particles & chemical reaction between liquids
& hearth material & flow induced shear stress.The
stresses created by the fluid flow inside the hearth
cause wear to hearth lining.
To minimise these wear & stresses it is
necessary to drain max. liquids out of the
hearth.Here the role of mushroom comes into
It is assumed that the level of metal & slag
remains constant while the drainage occurs
through the taphole.This takes place at the onset
of tapping &then level gradually decreases.
During this period the stresses on the wall will
be at their max. When fce level falls,the velocity
near taphole also decreases thus reducing wall
If taphole length is large enough to build a
mushroom then wall shear stress on the hearth is
minimum as premature blowing of taphole is
prevented thereby ensuring max.drainage from
hearth.The optimum length of taphole prevent
coke rush from the hearth.
Let us introduce a term Dimensionless
Taphole Length i.e L/R. As L/R increases
or depth of taphole is made longer
circumferential flow is restrained.As a
result temp. of refractories at the corner of
the hearth bottom decreases.High temp.
zones exists at an angle of about 20-50*c
with taphole.
The effective length of taphole depends on
whether angle of taphole is high or low.If
effective length is high due to low angle
then flow is diversed much earlier i.e
angular location of diversion will be much
higher thus reducing peripheral flow.Hence
wall stress will fall.
If effective taphole length is low due to high
angle the flow diversion will take place at a
much lower angular location from taphole
position so the strength of the peripheral flow
will remain high which will cause higher wall
shear stresses.
Peripheral of circumferential flow is
generated due to decrease in voidage of
deadman coke.The wall shear stress is caused
due to this flow as upward or downward flow
is restricted due to decrease in
voidage.Therefore there exist an optimum
length & angle where wall stress is min.
Deadman coke exists in 3 states:-
a)Deadman resting completely in hearth.
b)Deadman partially resting in hearth
bottom.The center region rests on the hearth
bottom while an annular coke free space
exists adjacent to hearth sidewalls.
c)Deadman is floating with a coke free layer
of iron separating it from hearth bottom.
These states arises due to distribution of forces
in the hearth.If the buoyant force of liquids is
more than downward force of burden & blast
pressure then deadman will float.If downward
forces are more than buoyant force then
deadman will sink in metal pool &if downward
forces are much more then deadman rests in
hearth bottom.
Metal&slag produced near taphole will drain
directly through deadman coke.If produced at a
distance then metal&slag will descend vertically
through deadman to enter coke free layer&travel
across hearth bottom before being sucked upto
taphole.Coke free space exists due to rising &
lowering of stored metal & slag in the hearth.
The flow rate in coke free space is higher than
deadman &max.velocity reaches when coke free
space is approx.0.015 times the hearth radius.If
this depth of coke free space increases,vel.of flow
reduces thus reducing hole erosion.If hole length
is reduced then drainage takeoff point is raised
thus raising depth of coke free space to control
flow rate.
Now coming to outer portion of tap hole.It lies in
continuity to main runner though at an elevated
position.If tap hole is deep then at that instance
when tap hole gets immersed in metal pool there
is every chance of metal to be in contact with fce
shell by penetrating the ram or through
remaining left over tap hole clay.This leads to
burning out of coolers or bursting&explosion.
It is found that there is an optimum tap hole
angle which leads to minimum wall shear
stress & this angle is 15*.Maximum wall
shear stress occurs at an angle of 20-40*.
Similarly L/R should be above 0.4 if
circumferential flow is to be restrained.
1)Maintain optimum tap hole length by ensuring
proper plugging.This is achieved by increasing
vol.of clay&preventing clay leakage.
2)Optimum projection of tap hole by ensuring
that tap hole is neither too deep nor bulging.
3)Ensuring max. drilling&min. lancing as too
much lancing erodes tap hole.
4)Using good quality clay for tap hole .Before
making the tap hole is properly chiselled to
remove the fused clay&then new clay is rammed.
5)Tap hole erosion can be minimised by
increasing titania injection rate as it controls
temp& hence min thermal erosion.
6)Prolonging depth of tap hole to restrain
circumferential flow to reduce wall stress.
7) If possible drill the tap hole to some extent
before opening the tap hole.This cures the
clay&prevents splitting due to poor clay quality.
8)It is found that tap hole clay functions
satisfactorily at a temp.range of 80-100*c.After
plugging if mudgun remains in contact with tap
hole for longer time water cool the clay which is
heated up due to heat of runner.