Microstructural characterization of industrial chromite and spinel cement kiln refractories with emphasis on the iron-rich rims
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Magnesia-chromite (MgO + MgO·Cr2O3) and magnesia-spinel (MgO + MgO·Al2O3) refractory bricks that are used in the high temperature zones of rotary cement kilns are investigated for their microstructural characteristics. Their microstructures are important because the size, shape and distribution of periclase grains, chromites and the quality of their bonding phases significantly affect their service performances. The purpose of this study was to characterize the microstructures of industrial brick samples to develop a protocol to compare different products e.g. for evaluation as replacement bricks. In some of the chromite containing bricks iron-rich rims were observed, while a domestic brick with similar chemistry had no such feature. These iron-rich rims were examined using SEM-EDS. It was found that the counter-diffusion of Fe+3 and Cr+3 were responsible for their formation. Exsolved chrome-spinel was widely observed in the microstructures of chromite bricks. Magnesia-spinel bricks were found to contain low melting calcium aluminates as bond phases in the microstructure, posing a threat to service performance. Portmortem microanalysis of industrially used bricks revealed alkali attack in addition to creep as main destruction mechanisms for brick. Traces of elements like Mo, S and alkalies were observed and thought to originate from the use of waste derived fuels.