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A microstructural study of surface hydration on a magnesia refractory
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Hydration of the surface of a periclase refractory was studied in a controlled humidity atmosphere (92% relative humidity) at 26 °C for up to 92 h. The effect of humidity on the specimens was examined using a scanning probe microscope (SPM) and a scanning electron microscope (SEM), which showed that the degree of hydration was noticeably less in the intergranular bond phase compared to the periclase crystallites. The SPM study indicated significant growth of hydrates on the refractory grain surface. Growth rate of the hydrate layer was least on (0 0 1) orientation, higher for the (1 0 3) orientation, and highest for the (1 0 1) oriented grain. The rate of loss of refractory phases by hydration on a (1 0 1) oriented grain was 4.53 nm/h. This material loss may be insignificant for a bulk brick, but is a serious threat for a magnesia castable consisting of fine magnesia powder due to large surface area exposed to humidity or water itself. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd and Techna Group S.r.l. All rights reserved.