Title:
SAND CATCHER FOR PRODUCTION OF STEEL AND OTHER METALS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device and method for improved production of steel and other metals. The device and method captures sand or other insulating material used in the handling of molten metals and prevents or minimizes contamination of finished or intermediate metal products with said sand or other insulating material.



Inventors:
Shepherd, James Michael (Alma, AR, US)
Crandall, Rickey G. (Fort Smith, AR, US)
Holderfield, John Carl (Pocola, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/534279
Publication Date:
03/27/2008
Filing Date:
09/22/2006
Assignee:
Quanex Corporation
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
164/337
International Classes:
B22D35/00
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Primary Examiner:
KASTLER, SCOTT R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT US LLP (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a retaining component comprising a container, said container comprising three walls and a bottom component, said three walls and bottom component made of a refractory material; a ramp component mounted on said retaining component, said ramp component made of a non-refractory material; wherein said ramp component is disposed at an angle with respect to said retaining component such that material delivered to said ramp component travels by gravity into said retaining component.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a handle coupled to said retaining component.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising one or more support elements, said support elements comprising refractory material.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said bottom component of said retaining component is positioned at an acute angle with respect a long axis of said retaining component.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said retaining component is made of ⅛″ thick steel.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said ramp component is made of 26 gauge sheet metal.

7. A method of capturing sand or other insulating material in a flow stream comprising sand or other insulating material and molten metal, said method comprising: placing a catching device in a path of said flow stream, said catching device comprising: a retaining component comprising a container, said container comprising three walls and a bottom component, said three walls and bottom component made of a refractory material; a ramp component mounted on said retaining component, said ramp component made of a non-refractory material; wherein said ramp component is disposed at an angle with respect to said retaining component such that material delivered to said ramp component travels by gravity into said retaining component; said catching device optionally comprising one or more support elements; initiating a flow of said flow stream; and, removing said catching device from said path of said flow stream after a finite time.

8. The method of claim 7, further comprising the step of engaging said one or more support elements to a support before said step of initiating a flow.

9. The method of claim 7, wherein said finite time is 1-5 seconds.

10. The method of claim 7, wherein said flow stream comprising sand or other insulating material comprises sand and molten steel.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a device and method for improved production of steel and other metals.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the production of steel and other metals, large ladles or similar devices are used to transport and deliver molten metal. Such devices are used to deliver molten metal into molds or other processing components. These devices oftentimes comprises components which open and close to deliver and retain, respectively, the molten metal. One example of such a component is a slide gate system. The slide gate mechanism is positioned at the bottom of the ladle and is opened and closed as needed to deliver or retain molten metals.

It is important to prevent solidification of the molten metal on the slide gate system and similar devices to prevent fouling of the device and the resulting down time needed to correct the problem. Thus, an insulating material is oftentimes placed on the device to prevent direct contact of the molten steel or other molten metal with the device. A common insulting material is sand. For this reason, when the slide gate system opens, sand and molten metal emerge. In this way, the sand or other insulating material contaminants the molten metal as it is delivered to the next processing station in the manufacturing process.

It would be useful to have a device and method which allows for the use of insulating material but prevents or minimizes any contamination of the molten metal in the subsequent processing station.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention, there is an apparatus comprising a retaining component comprising a container, the container comprising three walls and a bottom component, the three walls and bottom component made of a refractory material; a ramp component mounted on the retaining component, the ramp component made of a non-refractory material; wherein the ramp component is disposed at an angle with respect to the retaining component such that material delivered to the ramp component travels by gravity into the retaining component. In some embodiments, the apparatus further comprises a handle coupled to the retaining component. In some embodiments, the apparatus further comprises one or more support elements, the support elements comprising refractory material. In some embodiments of the apparatus the bottom component of the retaining component is positioned at an acute angle with respect a long axis of the retaining component. In a preferred embodiment, the retaining component is made of ⅛″ thick steel. In a preferred embodiment, the ramp component is made of 26 gauge sheet metal.

In another aspect of the present invention, there is a method of capturing sand or other insulating material in a flow stream comprising sand or other insulating material and molten metal, the method comprising: placing a catching device in a path of the flow stream, with the catching device comprising a retaining component comprising a container, the container comprising three walls and a bottom component, the three walls and bottom component made of a refractory material; a ramp component mounted on the retaining component, the ramp component made of a non-refractory material; wherein the ramp component is disposed at an angle with respect to the retaining component such that material delivered to the ramp component travels by gravity into the retaining component; the catching device optionally comprising one or more support elements; initiating a flow of said flow stream; and, removing the catching device from the path of the flow stream after a finite time. In some embodiments, the method further comprises the step of engaging the one or more support elements to a support before the step of initiating a flow. In some embodiments, the catching device is removed in 1-5 seconds. In a preferred embodiment, the flow stream comprises sand and molten steel.

The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the features and technical advantages of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood. Additional features and advantages of the invention will be described hereinafter which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims. The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the invention, both as to its organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages will be better understood from the following description when considered in connection with the accompanying figures. It is to be expressly understood, however, that each of the figures is provided for the purpose of illustration and description only and is not intended as a definition of the limits of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a steelmaking operation.

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an embodiment of the sand catcher device of the present invention

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of a view of the retaining component of the device of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of a view of the ramp component of the device of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In steelmaking operations, as well as other manufacturing and processing operations involving the handling of molten metals, the use of insulating materials such as sand and the like is common. These materials are used to prevent or retard heat transfer from the molten metal to its surroundings, including processing equipment such as containers and the like. When significant heat transfer occurs between molten metal and surfaces in which it is in contact, there is a risk of solidification of the molten metal, potentially resulting in the fouling of the processing equipment through solidification of the molten metal on the surfaces.

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a typically steelmaking operation. Ladle 1 contains molten steel 4 to be delivered to another processing station, in this case a tundish 8. The ladle contains a opening 11 through which molten steel is delivered to the tundish 8 or other processing station. Although not shown, it is possible that any of a number of other flow control devices, known to those of ordinary skill in the art, may comprise the opening 11. One common type device is a slide gate system. The slide gate opens and closes to turn on or off the flow of molten steel, and to regulate the flow.

As described above, significant heat transfer between molten steel and its surroundings may result in solidification of the molten steel. This can particularly problematic at opening 11. In the case of a slide gate system or other mechanical valve, solidification of the molten steel can freeze up or otherwise foul such a mechanism, thereby slowing or shutting down operations. For this reason, insulating materials, such as sand, are used to line the surface of the mechanism where the molten steel would otherwise contact. One difficulty with this approach is that there is a potential for contamination of the molten steel as it is delivered to the next processing station (in the case of FIG. 1, this is tundish 8).

The present invention provides a device and method to prevent or minimize contamination associated with the use of insulating materials such as sand in manufacturing operations involving molten metals such as molten steel. FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of the sand catcher device of the present invention. It should be understood that this device may be used to prevent contamination from other insulating materials in addition to sand. FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of the device of the present invention. Sand catcher 14 comprises retaining component 17 and ramp component 21. The embodiment shown in FIG. 2 also comprises three support elements 24 and handle 27.

FIG. 3 illustrates a view of retaining component 17, illustrating the three walls, 31, and bottom component 34. Bottom component 34 in FIG. 3 is parallel to the long axis 35 of retaining component 17, but alternatively, bottom component can be disposed at an angle with respect to the long axis 35. It should be understood that long axis 35 is shown for conformational purposes only and is not a tangible part of retaining component 17. Retaining component 17 is made from a refractory material capable of tolerating the high temperatures of the molten metal to which it will be in contact. The retaining component is also known as the box. In a preferred embodiment, the box is fabricated from ⅛″ thick steel.

FIG. 4. illustrates a view of ramp component 21. Preferably, ramp component 21 has a bottom portion 37, and two sides 41. The ramp component is preferably made of a non-refractory material and is consumed when contacted by molten metal. For this reason, the ramp component is consumable and must be periodically replaced. In a preferred embodiment, the ramp is made out of 26 gauge sheet metal.

The ramp component may be coupled to the retaining component in any way. Preferably, the ramp component is coupled to the retaining component in a way that allows for quick attachment. In a preferred embodiment, the ramp fits into a slot on the end opposite the handle. The coupling may be a tongue-in-groove type connection. Each ramp is a one use only device; i.e., it is a consumable. The ramp preferably attaches easily and quickly to the retaining component.

In operation, the sand catcher is placed in the path of a flow stream of molten metal. Preferably, the flow is initiated after the sand catcher is position in area of the flow stream. Upon initiation of flow of molten metal, the sand or other insulating material will be nearer to the head of the flow than will be the molten metal due to the sand's initial position closest to the head of the flow stream (e.g., at the bottom of ladle 1). Ramp component 21 is consumed after a finite time in the flow of molten metal. Preferably, this occurs in 1-5 seconds but may be longer depending upon the rate of flow and thickness of the ramp component 21.

Allowable variations in the configuration and conformation of the components of the sand catcher device should be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art and are intended to be part of the present invention. The individual components may comprises geometries other than those described in the illustrative examples and the drawings, so long as such is compatible with the intended performance. Minor alterations may be made to the examples described herein.

Although the present invention and its advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Moreover, the scope of the present application is not intended to be limited to the particular embodiments of the process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, means, methods and steps described in the specification. As one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate from the disclosure of the present invention, processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps, presently existing or later to be developed that perform substantially the same function or achieve substantially the same result as the corresponding embodiments described herein may be utilized according to the present invention. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to include within their scope such processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps.