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Thermodynamics and Kinetics in Metallurgical Processes - with a Special Focus on Bubble Dynamics

Time: Wed 2020-12-16 14.00

Location: Publikt via Zoom, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Materials Science and Engineering Metallurgical process science

Doctoral student: Yu Liu , Processer, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology

Opponent: Professor Joaquín B. Ordieres-Meré, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Departamento De Ingeniería De Organización,; Professor Yogeshwar Sahai, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Ohio State University; Dr.-Ing. Birgit Palm, BFI VDEH Betriebsforschungsinstitute GmbH; Docent Ville-Valtteri Visuri, Process Metallurgy Research Unit, University of Oulu

Supervisor: Mikael Ersson, Processer, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology; Pär Göran Jönsson, Processer, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology; Bjoern Glaser, Processer, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology


Gas stirring is commonly used in the steelmaking processes to reinforce chemical reactions, kinetic transfer, and inclusion removal, etc. This dissertation concentrates on multiphase flows with gas bubbling to study fluid dynamics and thermodynamics in metallurgical processes. A study of bubble behavior has been carried out using a multiscale approach as follows: Prototype scale (macro) Plume scale → Single bubble scale → Reaction scale (micro).

Initially, previous works on physical modeling and mathematical modeling in relation to the gas bubbling in the ladle have been reviewed. From that, several aspects that can be improved were found:

  • For physical modeling, such as mixing and homogenization in ladles, the general empirical rules have not been analyzed sufficiently;
  • The mathematical models focusing on inclusion behaviors at the steel-slag interface need to be improved;
  • The phenomena governing the transfer of elements, vacuum degassing, and the combination of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics, such as in desulfurization, need to be investigated further.

The kinetics transfer with regards to temperature and element homogenization is one of the most extensive research fields in steel metallurgy. For the analysis on prototype scale, the optimal plug configuration has been studied for a 50t ladle. For stirring using bottom-blowing, a separation angle between dual plugs of 160 degree is mostly recommended, and the optimal dual-plug radial position is around 0.65R. Moreover, the influence of the tracer’s natural convection on its homogenization pattern cannot be neglected, especially for ‘soft bubbling’ conditions using low gas flow rates.

Subsequently, in studies of the statistical behavior of gas bubbling in the plume, mathematical modeling using an Euler-Euler approach and an Euler-Lagrange approach have been compared. With respect to the bubble coalescence and breakup, the Euler-Lagrange approach is more accurate in predicting the flow pattern for gas injection using a porous plug. With regards to the effect of plug design on the statistical behavior of gas bubbling, gas injection using a slot plug promotes kinetic reactions close to the open eye due to the concentrated plume structure, and gas bubbling using a porous plug promotes a good inclusion removal because of the increased amount of bubbles.

Focusing on single bubble behavior, under the same flow rate, as the top gauge pressure is reduced, the bubble diameter increases and the bubble generation frequency decreases. During the bubble ascent, a large bubble gradually reaches stable conditions by means of shedding several small bubbles. In a steel-argon system, under a flow rate in the range of 5.0(mL‧min-1)STP to 2000(mL‧min-1)STP, the bubble diameter is in the range of 6.0mm to 20.0mm. Under laminar conditions, the maximum bubble width is 65mm when the surrounding pressure is 0.2bar, and the steady bubble width is around 58mm under a pressure of 2.0bar.

Finally, a coupling method, named Multi-zone Reaction Model, has been developed to predict the conditions in the EAF refining process. Using a combined injection of O2 and argon, and the same injected mass of O2, the decarburization rate increases due to an efficient kinetic mass transfer of carbon in the molten steel. Furthermore, using CO2 to replace argon, as the ratio of the CO2 content in the injection increases, the maximum hot spot temperature, the increment rate of average temperature, and the decarburization rate decrease dramatically.

The research step from multiphase fluid dynamics to its coupling with high temperature thermodynamics is a large advancement in this study. Moreover, the research process using open source software to replace the commercial software is also an important technical route. This can help the transparent development of future modules for reacting flow in metallurgical processes.