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TSINGHUA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ISSN 1007-0214 06/18 pp550-554 Volume 9, Number 5, October 2004

Centerline Segregation in Continuous Casting Billets*


MA Changwen (), SHEN Houfa ()**, HUANG Tianyou ()
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China Abstract: Centerline segregation is of practical significance since it affects the material properties. Center-

line segregation in continuous casting billets was studied by solving the fluid flow, solidification, and solute transport equations from the initially liquid steel to the completely solid state using the finite difference method with the SIMPLER algorithm. The results show that the centerline segregation is induced by both the fluid flow in the mushy zone and the accumulation of solute-rich liquid near the solidification front. The species concentration in the center of the strand rises quickly in the mushy region to a maximum at the end of solidification. The most serious segregation occurs along the billet centerline. Key words: metal solidification; centerline segregation; continuous casting; numerical simulation

Introduction
Macro-segregation is a macroscopic concentration inhomogeneity induced by solute redistribution near the solidification interface which is affected by the fluid flow in the mushy zone. Centerline segregation often occurs in continuous casting billets[1] and is of practical interest because it affects the material properties. Analysis of the fluid flow and centerline segregation in continuous castings is needed to clearly identify its detailed formation mechanism[2]. Many researchers[3-5] have analyzed the mechanism of centerline segregation in continuous castings based on experimental or practical process parameters. Numerical simulations can provide more information to analyze the formation of centerline segregation because simulations predict both the concentration distribution and the fluid flow during solidification of the continuous casting. Aboutalebi et al.[6] studied the solute redistribution in a twodimensional billet and investigated the effect of some
Received: 2004-01-14

operating parameters on the fluid flow in the liquid pool. Zhang et al.[7] calculated the fluid flow and solute transport in a three-dimensional billet. However, these studies only analyzed the solute redistribution at the initial solidification stage near the mold exit with no simulation of the centerline segregation at the final solidification stage in continuous castings. The centerline segregation formation mechanism is related to the solute accumulation at the end of the solidification and could not be explained only by the solute distribution near the initial solidified shell[8]. Therefore, the solute redistribution at the end of solidification should also be analyzed. The centerline segregation formation mechanism was analyzed in this work by simulating the fluid flow, solidification, and solute transport of steel from the initial liquid phase until the melt is entirely solidified in a continuous casting billet.

1 Model Description
1.1 Governing equations

Supported by the Iron and Steel Research Conjunct Foundation


of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Baosteel Co. of China (No. 50174031) To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: shen@tsinghua.edu.cn; Tel: 86-10-62789922

A schematic of the continuous billet casting near the mold is shown in Fig. 1. The fluid flow and solute redistribution until the liquid steel was fully solidified were analyzed based on the following assumptions and governing equations.

MA Changwen () et alCenterline Segregation in Continuous Casting Billets

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the permeability, p is the pressure, and g is the gravitational acceleration. 3) Conservation of energy

k k ( Vh) = h + (hs h) cs cs
[ (hl h)(V Vs )] (5) where h denotes the enthalpy, with hs as the solid enthalpy and hl as the liquid enthalpy. k is the thermal conductivity, and cs is the solid specific heat. 4) Conservation of solute ( Vw) = ( Dw) + [ D ( wl w)]
[ ( wl w)(V Vs )]
Fig. 1 Schematic of continuous billet casting process

(6)

The assumptions are: a) The casting process is a steady state process. b) The fluid is an incompressible Newtonian fluid and the turbulence in the liquid can be treated using an effective viscosity[9]. c) The section size of the strand is uniform. d) The effect of strand deformation and bulging on the solute distribution is ignored. The governing equations are based on the continuum model[10,11]. 1) Continuity equation ( V ) = 0 (1) 2) Momentum equation
( Vu ) = ( u ) p (u us ) x K

where w denotes the average solute mass fraction and D is the diffusion coefficient. In the mushy zone, the conservation of energy equation and the solute equation are coupled by the local thermodynamic equilibrium. T Tliq 1 (7) fs = 1 kp T Tmelt where fs is the solid fraction, kp is the equilibrium partition ratio, Tliq is the liquidus temperature, and Tmelt is the pure metal melting point. The mushy zone which includes the dendrites is treated as a porous medium with the permeability as K = K0 (1 fs )3 fs 2 (8)

(2)

( Vv ) = ( v )

p (v vs ) y K

(3)

( Vw) = ( w)

p ( w ws ) + z K
(4)

g[ T (T Te ) + s ( wl we )]

where K0 is a parameter determined by the dendrite size LII. The secondary arm space of dendrites is assumed to be about 1.0 104 m and K0 is 5.56 1011 m2 for the strand cooling rates used here. The heat flux in the mold to the cooling water is q = hm (T0 Tw,m ) (9)

where denotes the average density, V denotes the velocity vector, u, v, and w are the velocity components along the three coordinate axes, and x, y, and z denote the coordinates along the billet width, thickness, and casting direction, respectively. us, vs, and ws denote the solid velocity components in x, y, and z directions. In this analysis us and vs are 0, while ws is equal to the casting speed. T and s denote the thermal and solutal expansion coefficients. Te is the reference temperature, wl is the liquid solute mass fraction, we is the reference solute mass fraction, is the effective viscosity[9], K is

while the heat flux of the secondary cooling water is q = hsec (T0 Tw,s ) (10) where q is the heat flux and T0 is the strand surface temperature. hm and hsec are the heat transfer coefficients at the strand surface in the mold and in the secondary cooling zone. Tw,m and Tw,sec are the water temperatures in the mold and the secondary cooling zone.
1.2 Calculation conditions

The following boundary conditions were used in the calculation.

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Tsinghua Science and Technology, October 2004, 9(5): 550554

1) Nozzle inlet The mass flow rate at the nozzle inlet was equal to the mass flow rate at the billet outlet. The temperature and species concentration at the nozzle inlet were equal to the initial values for liquid steel. 2) Melt surface The normal velocity at the melt surface in the mold was zero. The axial gradients of all the variables were set to zero. 3) Symmetry planes The normal gradients of all variables at the symmetry planes were set to zero. 4) Moving wall (solid shell) The velocity components in the x and y directions at the moving wall were zero with the velocity in the z direction equal to the casting speed. The normal gradient of the species concentration was set to zero. The heat transfer at the moving wall was treated using the convective boundary condition. One fourth of a billet with a cross section of 133 mm 133 mm and a length of 12 m from meniscus was simulated based on the symmetry. The calculation domain was meshed with a grid having 22 22 52 elements. The casting speed was 2.64 m/min. The initial temperature, T0, at the nozzle inlet was 1783 K and the species concentration, w0, was 0.8 wt.%. The nozzle diameter was 35 mm. The average heat transfer coefficient at the strand surface in the mold, hm, was assumed to be 1200 W/(m2 K) with a mold water temperature, Tw,m, of 320 K. The average heat transfer coefficient in the secondary cooling zone, hsec, was assumed to be 800 W/(m2 K) with a secondary cooling water temperature, Tw,sec, of 305 K. The program was developed using Microsoft C++ 6.0 based on the finite difference method and the SIMPLER algorithm[11]. The calculation on a Pentium III 733 MHz computer required about 50 h CPU time.

Fig. 2

Calculated and measured shell thickness

Fig. 3 Species concentration in a solidified billet cross section

The species concentration in a cross section of the fully solidified billet is shown in Fig. 3. The concentration is reduced at the billet surface and increased in the center region after the billet is fully solidified. The species concentration increases from 0.84 wt.% at the surface to 0.98 wt.% in the center of the strand. The calculated segregation ratio w/w0 in the mid-thickness is compared with measurements[5] in Fig. 4.

Results and Discussion

Figure 2 shows the thickness of the solidified shell near the mold. The shell thickness increases with increasing distance from the meniscus. The solid shell thickness at the mold exit is about 10 mm which agrees well with measurement values[12].

Fig. 4

Comparison of calculated and measured segregation ratios in a solidified billet

MA Changwen () et alCenterline Segregation in Continuous Casting Billets

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Figure 5 shows how the centerline segregation forms. The liquid temperature in the mushy region is lower than that in the liquid pool, so the liquid in the mushy region flows downwards due to natural convection (Fig. 5a). Because of the solute redistribution at the solidification interface (fs = 1), the species concentration of the liquid, wl, in the mushy region is much higher than the initial melt concentration, w0 (Fig. 5b). The flow of the solute-rich liquid in the mush region moves the solute towards the center of the strand, so the species concentration increases as the solute is concentrated in the center. The lower permeability in the mushy region restricts the flow, so the flow is very weak near the solidus line (Fig. 5a) and the solute-rich

liquid is partially contained in that region (Fig. 5b). Because the mushy region is thin and the liquid fraction is small, the solute-rich liquid farther from the center does not induce serious segregation though it has a high liquid concentration (wl = 2.1 wt.% in Fig. 5b). However, the mushy region near the center becomes thicker and the average concentration in the mushy region becomes higher than the initial concentration, which causes more segregation near the centerline of the solidification ends (Fig. 5c). This formation of the centerline segregation during continuous casting is much like the sedimentation of fine sand from a vibrating funnel wall.

Fig. 5 Solute accumulation and formation of centerline segregation

The variation of the species concentration, w and solid fraction, fs, at the centerline along the casting direction are shown in Fig. 6. The species concentration in the center increases slowly in the mold region (z < 0.7 m), and then quickly up to z = 5.5 m from the meniscus where the solid fraction is still zero (fs = 1.0). The species concentration reaches a maximum of 1.04 wt.% at the end of solidification (fs = 1.0). The mushy zone (0 < fs < 1.0) in the strand center mainly exists between 6.0 m and 8.0 m from the meniscus. The two curves in Fig. 6 show that the species concentration increases mainly in the mushy region at the center of the strand.

Fig. 6 Species concentration and solid fraction increase along the centerline

Conclusions

The solute redistribution in a continuous casting billet was simulated by solving the Navier-Strokes equation

with the energy and species conservation equations to analyze the centerline segregation formation. The results show that the species concentration decreases at the strand surface and increases significantly at the center of the strand. The centerline segregation is induced by both the fluid flow in the mushy zone and the

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Tsinghua Science and Technology, October 2004, 9(5): 550554 [6] Aboutalebi M R, Hasan M, Guthrie R I L. Coupled turbulent flow, heat, and solute transport in continuous casting processes. Metall. Mater. Trans. B, 1995, 26B(4): 731-744. [7] Zhang Hongwei, Wang Engang, He Jicheng. Coupled numerical simulation on fluid flow, solidification and solute transport in billet continuous casting process. Acta Metall. Sinica, 2002, 38(1): 99-104. (in Chinese) [8] Watanabe T, Yamashita M, Yoshiyama J. Influence of liquid flow at the final solidification stage on centerline segregation in continuously cast slabs. Sumitomo Metals, 1993, 45(3): 26-39. [9] Yang Bingjian, Cai Linning, Su Junyi. Equivalent laminar model of 3-D turbulent field. J. Xian Jiaotong University, 1996, 30(4): 79-85. (in Chinese) [10] Bennon W D, Incropera F P. Evolution of macrosegregation in statically cast binary ingots. Metall. Trans. B, 1987, 18B(4): 611-616. [11] Ma Changwen, Shen Houfa, Huang Tianyou, Liu Baicheng. Numerical simulation of channel segregation in directional solidification. J. Tsinghua University (Sci. & Technol.), 2003, 43(11): 1444-1448. (in Chinese) [12] Lait J E, Brimacombe J K, Weinberg F. Mathematical modeling of heat flow in the continuous casting of steel. Ironmaking and Steelmaking, 1974, 1(2): 90-97.

accumulation of the solute-rich liquid near the solidification front. The species concentration in the strand center rises quickly in the mushy region to a maximum at the solidification ends. Far from the meniscus, the mushy region is thicker and the average species concentration in the mushy region is higher than the initial concentration, resulting in centerline segregation in the continuous casting.
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