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Title: The role of aggregates in the thermal stability of Mg-PSZ refractories for vacuum induction melting
Author: Quadling, Amanda Gail
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 4324
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2014
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Mg-PSZ refractories used as vacuum induction melting crucibles are particle-reinforced composites with aggregate and matrix phases comprising fused zirconia. Three commercial varieties were cycled eight times to service temperatures and their microstructural and thermomechanical evolution investigated, with focus placed on the aggregate populations. Two refractories, with large aggregates of similar size, were found to retain stiffness after cycling but in the refractory containing aggregates with high stabiliser levels, reaction between the stabiliser and Al and Si impurities produced secondary phases. Volume changes accompanying formation of these phases, and subsequent thermal expansion mismatches, led to aggregate break-up with consequent reductions in refractory toughness and strength. Secondary phases developed only rarely in the aggregates (with lower levels of stabiliser) of the second refractory. These aggregates remained intact and the refractory retained its toughness and strength. A third refractory contained small, unstabilised aggregates in a stabilised matrix and the strain mismatches that ensued during polymorphic transformation damaged microstructural interfaces. Refractory stiffness halved within eight cycles and toughness and strength were lost. All three refractories displayed R-curve behaviour and quasi-stable fracture curves were observed during bend tests. The study shows that when using fused zirconia aggregates to design refractories, engineers need to i) limit stabiliser concentrations - a difference of just ± 1 wt% Mg (in the presence of impurity elements) may determine whether secondary phase formation occurs and ii) eliminate alumina and silica impurities when possible through substitution of zircon sand with baddeleyite as the source for fused zirconia.
Supervisor: Lee, William ; Vandeperre, Luc Sponsor: Morgan Advanced Materials
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available