An Experimental Study of a Liquid Steel Sampling Process

Sammanfattning: During the steelmaking process samples are taken from the liquid steel, mainly to assess the chemical composition of the steel. Recently, methods for rapid determination of inclusion characteristics (size and composition) have progressed to the level where they can be implemented in process control. Inclusions in steel can have either good or detrimental effects depending on their characteristics (size, number, composition and morphology). Thereby, by determination of the inclusion characteristics during the steelmaking process it is possible to steer the inclusion characteristics in order to increase the quality of the steel. However, in order to successfully implement these methods it is critical that the samples taken from the liquid steel represent the inclusion characteristics in the liquid steel at the sampling moment.   The purpose of this study is to investigate the changes in inclusion characteristics during the liquid steel sampling process. Experimental studies were carried out at steel plants to measure filling velocity and solidification rate in real industrial samples. The sampling conditions for three sample geometries and two slag protection types were determined. Furthermore, the dispersion of the total oxygen content in the samples was evaluated as a function of sample geometry and type of slag protection. In addition, the effects of cooling rate as well as oxygen and sulfur content on the inclusion characteristics were investigated in laboratory and industrial samples. Possibilities to separate primary (existing in the liquid steel at sampling moment) and secondary (formed during cooling and solidification) inclusions depending on size and composition were investigated. Finally, in order to evaluate the homogeneity and representative of the industrial samples the dispersion of inclusion characteristics in different zones and layers of the samples were investigated.   It was concluded that the type of slag protection has a significant effect on the filling velocity and the sampling repeatability. Furthermore, that the thickness of the samples is the main controlling factor for the solidification rate. It was shown that top slag can contaminate the samples. Therefore, the choice of slag protection type is critical to obtain representative samples. It was shown that the cooling rate has a significant effect on the number of secondary precipitated inclusions. However, the number of primary inclusions was almost constant and independent on the cooling rate. In most cases it is possible to roughly separate the secondary and primary oxide inclusions based on the particle size distributions. However, in high-sulfur steels a significant amount of sulfides precipitate heterogeneously during cooling and solidification. This makes separation of secondary and primary inclusions very difficult. Moreover, the secondary sulfides which precipitate heterogeneously significantly change the characteristics (size, composition and morphology) of primary inclusions. The study revealed that both secondary and primary inclusions are heterogeneously dispersed in the industrial samples. In general, the middle zone of the surface layer is recommended for investigation of primary inclusions.