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Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1996/001700
Kind Code:
A method for placing a thixotropic low-cement castable refractory material without the necessity for forms. A low-cement castable material is mixed with a measured amount of water, then is pumped hydraulically through a hose (13) to a nozzle assembly (14). Compressed air and a cement setting agent are added to the mixture at the nozzle (14). The addition of the setting agent at the nozzle (14) overcomes the thixotropic nature of the low-cement castable, so that it will immediately "set" in position when sprayed onto a surface, including vertical and overhead surfaces.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
January 25, 1996
Filing Date:
July 07, 1995
Export Citation:
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Allison, Eric L.
International Classes:
B05D1/02; B05D5/00; B05D7/00; B05D7/24; B28B1/32; C04B2/06; C04B28/06; C04B40/00; C21B7/06; E04F21/12; F27D1/16; (IPC1-7): B05D1/02; B28B1/32; C21B7/06; E04B1/16
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1. Having set forth the nature of the present invention, what is claimed is: A method for placing lowcement castable refractory material on a surface without the use of forms, comprising the steps of: (a) mixing dry lowcement castable material with water until it forms a wet lowcement castable mix of a pumpable consistency; (b) pumping said wet lowcement castable mix through a hose to a nozzle; (c) metering an amount of a cementsetting agent to be added to said wet lowcement castable mix to induce substantially instantaneous setting of said wet low cement castable mix upon contact on a surface; (d) introducing air said cementsetting agent into said wet lowcement castable mix at said nozzle, forming a lowcement castable end mix; and (e) spraying said lowcement castable end mix onto said surface until a desired thickness of said lowcement castable end mix is reached.
2. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein said low cement castable refractory material contains an amount of monocalcium aluminate cement.
3. A method as defined in claim 2, wherein the chemical composition of said cement setting agent is such that its combination with said lowcement castable refractory material causes an exothermic reaction and results in substantially instantaneous calcium aluminate hydrate precipitation.
4. A method as defined in claim 1, wherein said cementsetting agent is hydrated lime and wherein said amount of hydrated lime to be added is 0.01% to 5.0% by dry weight of said dry lowcement castable material.
5. A method as defined in claim 4, wherein said hydrated lime is dry and wherein movement of said air, as it is introduced into said wet lowcement castable mix, creates an airstream and wherein said introduction of said dry lime further comprises placing said appropriate amount of dry lime into said airstream before the air reaches said nozzle.
6. A method as defined in claim 5, further comprising the step of mixing said appropriate amount of hydrated lime with water prior to introducing said hydrated lime into said lowcement castable mix at said nozzle.
7. A method for applying a thixotropic lowcement castable on a vertical or overhead surface without the use of a form, wherein a hose and nozzle are used to deliver said lowcement castable proximal said surface comprising the steps of: (a) mixing a composition of lowcement refractory material with a quantity of water to form a hydraulically pumpable low cement refractory mixture; (b) pumping said lowcement mixture through said hose; (c) forming a slurry of a cement setting agent and water; (d) introducing air and said slurry into said lowcement mixture at said nozzle, such that said slurry and mixture are dispersed by said nozzle is a spray of a lowcement castable end mix having diminished thixotropic properties such that said low cement end mix may be deposited on a surface without substantial gravity shearing from said surface.
8. A method as defined in claim 7, wherein said cement setting agent comprises hydrated lime.
9. A method as defined in claim 8, wherein the amount of said dry hydrated lime to be added to said water to form said slurry is between 0.01% to 5.0% of the dry weight of said lowcement castable material.


The present invention relates to refractory installation. More particularly, the present invention relates to the installation of low-cement refractory material. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to the installation of low-cement refractory material without the necessity for forming and casting. In even greater particularity, the present invention relates to a process for applying low-cement castable refractory material using a spray nozzle. Background of the Invention

Castable refractory materials are generally divided into two categories: conventional and low-cement. These castables are used in any applications requiring a durable lining capable of withstanding extremely high temperatures, for example, in the interior of furnaces and the ladles used in transferring molten iron during the steel manufacturing process. In general, a conventional castable material contains approximately 10 % to 30 % by weight of cement. A low-cement castable refractory material contains less than approximately 10% by weight of cement.

Conventional castables may be applied in a number of ways:

(1) by using forms to mold the conventional castable material and removing the forms after the material has set;

(2) by a "dry method" of spray application, referred to in the trade as "gunnite"; and (3) by a "wet method" of spray application.

Of the three methods, forming and casting is the least desirable because of the greatly increased labor costs associated with building the forms. Additionally, some applications do not lend themselves to forming. For example, the Treadwell ladles used in the steel mills to transport molten iron are roughly football-shaped. Building forms to accommodate the interior of the ladle would be impracticable.

The gunnite method of application consists of pneumatically conveying a dry refractory gunning mix into a compressed air stream and forcing it through a hose to a nozzle, adding water through a line at the nozzle and spraying the moistened mix onto the surface to be lined. Although gunnite eliminates the cost of forming and allows application to any surface regardless of shape or irregularities, it too suffers from a number of disadvantages. First, the quality of the finished product is largely dependent on the skill of the nozzle operator. The operator must constantly control the flow of water to properly hydrate the dry mix. Sufficient water must be added to hydrate the cement in the mix, or the mixture will not properly adhere to the surface. The addition of too much water, however, weakens the compressive strength of the final product. Secondly, gunnite requires the use of a high volume of compressed air at the rate of approximately 250 to 700 cubic feet per minute. Because of the lack of thorough mixing, coarse aggregates contained in the gunning mix "rebound" from the surface. The amount of rebound material may be as high as one-third of the dry material passing through the gun. In addition to creating another factor that the nozzle operator must consider in controlling the amount of water added, the rebound of aggregates creates both a clean-up problem and an occupational safety issue. The high amount of dust generated during the gunnite process mandates that operators wear masks and respirators to avoid aspirating dust particles. The wet method of spraying refractory material into place consists of pre-mixing dry refractory material with a measured amount of water, hydraulically conveying the pre-mixed material to a nozzle and spraying the material onto the surface to be lined. Since the material is pre- mixed with a measured amount of water, the nozzle operator is relieved of the task of controlling the amount of water added. The refractory material is typically mixed in a paddle mixer for several minutes, ensuring that the cement

in the mix is thoroughly and uniformly wet. The wet method eliminates the problems of rebound and dust; the nozzle operator may accordingly work without a respirator. Additionally, the air volume required to place the material is approximately 80-90 cubic feet per minute, substantially less than that required in the gunnite process.

Low-cement castable refractory materials have properties far superior to conventional castables. Conventional castables form an end product having higher porosity than those formed with low-cement castables. In the steel mill applications, the higher porosity allows slag and molten iron a more effective surface to react with, thereby accelerating the degradation of the refractory. As the bond deteriorates, the refractory material loses its strength. The retained strength of low- cement refractory material is accordingly greater than that of conventional castables. Standard strength tests conducted by the applicant on a 60 % alumina conventional castable and a 60 % alumina low-cement castable yielded the following results:

Prefired to °F Low-cement Conventional Low-cement Convent onal Modulus of Modulus of Rupture, Cold Crushing Cold Crushing Rupture, psi psi Strength, psi Strength, psi

250 1260 1100 5360 4400

1500 2900 800 10900 4700

2000 2350 1100 9000 4000

2500 2800 1800 9700 6700

3000 3860 2000 12000 7200

Although low-cement castables have physical properties that are superior to conventional castables, their use has been limited by a number of factors. First, because of the small amount of cement in the castable material, it must be pre-mixed with a measured amount of water for several minutes to activate the low-cement system. Additionally, the amount of water added to the low-cement castable material must be carefully controlled, as an excess of water will weaken the final refractory product. Since the "gunnite" method of application does not allow for mixing,

and since the nozzle operator is required to determine the amount of water to add during the actual application, the dry method of spray application does not lend itself to use with a low-cement castable. Use of low-cement castables has been further limited by the fact that a low-cement castable is "thixotropic," i.e. , it tends to flow when high shear energy is applied. Because of this property, low- cement castables previously could be placed only by forming and casting. Attempts to apply low-cement castables with a spray gun were unsuccessful, as the refractory material would flow off a vertical, semi-vertical or overhead surface. The inability to prevent the low-cement castable from running off of the surface resulted in limiting the use of low-cement castables to those applications in which forms could be used to cast the material. Applications in which forming was not feasible were limited to the gunning of conventional castables.

Summary of the Present Invention With the foregoing in mind, the principal object of the present invention is to provide a method of placing low-cement refractory castable materials without the necessity for forms.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a method for placing low-cement refractory castables on a surface regardless of shape or irregularities.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a method for placing low-cement castables that is less expensive than traditional methods. These and other objects of the present invention are accomplished by a method which includes pre-mixing the dry low- cement castable material with a measured amount of water, hydraulically conveying the mixed material through a hose or pipe to a nozzle, adding an accelerator at the nozzle that will cause immediate hydrate precipitation and spraying the mixture onto the surface to be lined.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiment In the preferred embodiment, a slurry of hydrated lime is added to a low-cement refractory mixture at the nozzle as it is sprayed onto a surface. The hydrated lime reacts with the low-cement mixture and causes it to stiffen immediately, thereby eliminating the need for forming and casting.

A low-cement castable material is placed in a mixer 11 with a premeasured amount of water and mixed to achieve the proper consistency. The wet cementuous mixture 12 is conveyed hydraulically through a hose 13 to a nozzle assembly 14, using a suitable pump 16. An air compressor 17 feeds compressed air through an air hose 19 into the nozzle assembly 14 at a rate of approximately 80-90 cubic feet per minute, to allow the mixture to be sprayed onto a surface 21. A setting agent, hydrated lime, is added to the mixture at the nozzle 14 through a setting agent hose 23. The optimum amount of dry hydrated lime used to keep the low-cement mixture from flowing off of the surface is between 0.01% and 5.0% of the dry weight of the low-cement castable material. Addition of amounts of hydrated lime in excess of 5% will still cause the low-cement material to "freeze" upon contact with the surface upon which it is directed, but is less desirable because it will decrease the refractoriness of the final product. The hydrated lime can be delivered to the nozzle in liquid form in a mixture of 50% water and 50% hydrated lime by weight, using a liquid metering pump 24. Alternatively, dry lime may be metered directly into the air hose 19 at a point between the air compressor 17 and the nozzle assemble 14.

The major constituent of the cement used in most refractory castables is "monocalcium aluminate." The addition of lime to a low-cement refractory mixture including an amount of monocalcium aluminate causes the mixture to immediately set, because the lime combines with the monocalcium aluminate to cause immediate hydrate precipitation. When anhydrous calcium aluminate is placed in water, lime and alumina dissolve. The addition of free

lime (calcium oxide) increases the calcium to alumina ratio, thereby reducing the period required for the formation of calcium aluminate hydrates to the point that precipitation is immediate. The hydrate precipitation causes a "gelling" effect in the cement, reversing the thixotropic tendency of the low-cement castable, and allowing the material to remain in place when it reaches the intended surface.

Although the invention has been disclosed through the description of an embodiment using hydrated lime as the setting agent, the addition of any cement setting agent that will cause an exothermic chemical reaction when combined with the low-cement castable material that results in the required calcium aluminate hydrate precipitation, may be used in place of hydrated lime. Those agents containing alkali, for example, sodium or potassium, are less desirable because they promote "fluxing," i.e., chemical reactions between the refractory material and molten slag or impurities produced during furnace operation, and decrease the serviceable temperature of the refractory product. Additionally, the introduction of excess water weakens the refractory product; accelerators such as clay or methyl cellulose are accordingly less desirable though they enable spray application of low- cement refractory material.

While I have shown my invention in a single form, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that it is not so limited but is susceptible of various changes and modifications without departing from the spirit thereof.