Materiais refratários e práticas operacionais para aumento de vida útil dos cadinhos para transporte de alumínio
Braga, Paulo Moreira
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The work described in this study deals with the several different factors that affect the performance of refractory lining in the ladles that transfer aluminum molten metal from electrolytic cells (pots) to a holding furnace. By using a systemic approach the work had the objective of increasing the life cycle of these ladles and consequently to reduce the cost of producing aluminum metal. Considering that for refractory lining the potential improvements are associated with a chain of items that include inspection, materials, engineering project design, installation, heating and operation, it is therefore fundamental to primarily understand the process in its entirety before proposing any type of change in the specific items of that chain. Within that context the first step of adjustments/improvements in the process pursued actions to extend the life cycle for the refractory materials that were being used. After implementing those adjustments and improvements an evaluation was performed on the efficiency of the actions for minimizing the mechanisms of wear on the refractories. An autopsy analysis was also carried out in three laddles to identify the bottlenecks that still limited the life cycle of the refractory lining. Results showed that the work culminated in an average increase of 83% in the life cycles of the refractories. Considering the ladles available for implementing improvements, 91% were able to perform more than 400 metal runs, whereas before improvements only 9% were making more than 400 runs. Additionally, the maximum number of runs per laddle increased by 53%, from 467 to 715. Besides the increase in availability of the ladles, this significant increase in the performance of the refractories brought financial gains in reducing by 47% the annual maintenance and pre-heating costs of the refractories. The measuring of the degree of success of the steps performed in the work was fundamental for orientating each following step within the intent to obtain a continuous improvement of the refractory materials and an increase in the level of competitiveness.