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Sulphide (Thin) & thick are attached

Globular Oxides
1. Steel cleanliness of rails:
Steel cleanliness is the one unifying theme in all steel plants as problems in steel cleanliness can
lead to internal rejects or customer dissatisfaction with steel products. Thus all steel plants are
continually attempting to improve their practices to produce more consistent products. Since the
term clean steel is an ambiguous term; the so-called clean steel in general is referred to the
steel in which the content of impurity elements, such as phosphorus, sulphur, total oxygen,
nitrogen, hydrogen (including carbon sometimes) and inclusions are very low. The improvement
of steel cleanliness has therefore become a more and more important subject in the development
of ferrous metallurgical technology, and also an important task for the iron and steel producers.
The demand for better mechanical properties of steels was urging steel producers to improve
cleanliness of their final products. In order to obtain the satisfactory cleanliness of steel it is
necessary to control and improve a wide range of operating practices throughout the steelmaking
processes like deoxidant- and alloy additions, secondary metallurgy treatments, shrouding
systems and casting practice.
The importance of clean steel with respect to mechanical properties of the product can be
understood from the table below
S, O

Sulfide and oxide inclusions

Mechanical Properties Affected

Ductility, Charpy impact value, anisotropy

Formability (elongation, reduction of area and


Cold forgeability, drawability

Low temperature toughness

C, N

Solid solution

Solid solubility (enhanced), hardenability

Settled dislocation

Strain aging (enhanced), ductility and toughness


Pearlite and cementite

Dispersion (enhanced), ductility and toughness


Carbide and nitride precipitates

Precipitation, grain refining (enhanced), toughness


Fatigue strength

Solid solution

Embrittlement by intergranular precipitation

Solid solubility (enhanced), hardenability (enhanced)

Temper brittleness

Separation, secondary work embrittlement

Hydrogen in rail is restricted to a maximum of 1.6 ppm which makes degassing necessary. At
JSPL, rail steel is processed in the RH-degasser after LRF processing. This ensures that
hydrogen and other dissolved gases like oxygen, nitrogen etc. are controlled to a very low level.
As far as inclusions are concerned, it is well known that they are detrimental to rails. IRS T-12
2009 specifies that the inclusion rating level of rails, when examined as per IS: 4163, shall not be
worse than 2.5 A,B, C, D thin or 2.0 A, B, C, D thick.
1. Effect of Inclusions to the physical continuity of rails:
Inclusions act as the barrier to the physical continuity of metal. The area in the vicinity of
inclusion develops a local residual stress field; so that the initiation & propagation of crack gets
driven. Fatigue is the result of progressive initiation & subsequent propagation of crack.
Initiation is typically accepted to involve crack development- microcracks (size ranging from
micrometer to millimetre) transforming into macro cracks (greater than millimetre, & up to as
long as sizeable fraction of a metre). The really important crack dimension, which determines
fatigue life, is penetration into the load bearing area.
Initiation is dependent on slip processes, governed by cyclic shear stresses. Propagation is
generally governed by cyclic tensile stresses & is caused by repeated plastic stretches & blunting

at the crack tip. The classic explanation is that, when a flat crack is open by tensile stresses,
stretching occurs normal to the crack tip, thereby advancing its position.
In a generally compressive field, such as that under a wheel contact, early growth by shear is the
only possible mechanism available to advance the crack. Later, under the influence of bulk
bending stresses in the body of rail, the crack grows by tensile opening & closing.
The extremely high contact stresses & the enormous power density (i.e the power passing
through per unit) concentrated at the contact under the vertical loads, are enhanced by lateral
(curving) longitudinal (traction & braking) loads. In these circumstances, the initiation of crack
is almost inevitable.

A wide variety of inclusion always exists in the rail steels of the composition shown in Table 2.
The most common of which includes those of MnS, Al 2O3 and SiO2. Large inelastic inclusions,
such as those comprising of Ca, Al, Si and O tends to act as a nucleation site for crack growth
below the surface of the rail head. These inclusions which are themselves brittle in nature; under
the influence of stresses can shear in a brittle manner; thus leading to loss of serviceability. Rail
industry has been constantly working in this regard to lower down the Size & amount of
inclusion prevailing. MnS inclusions can become crack initiators as they deform in a nonuniform manner to produce long thin inclusions. Studies reveal that MnS inclusions, present in
the material are considerably elongated by the loading of the rail in service and contribute to
spontaneous cracking, subsequently resulting in failure.
This study assesses the level and type of inclusions in rail steels produced at JSPL and tries to
minimise the inclusion level by carrying out appropriate modifications in steel making &
simultaneously carrying out the comparative study between VD & RH processed heat.
A type

B type

C type

D type

Heat ID









Typically problems are faced during desulphurization of high carbon silicon killed steels due to
the low sulphide capacities of CaO-SiO2 slags. Final slag composition is controlled by a wide
range of operating practices throughout the steelmaking processes. These include the time and
location of deoxidant, lime and alloy additions, the extent and sequence of secondary metallurgy
treatments, stirring and transfer operations etc
The following parameters and their effect on desulphurization and inclusion removal
1.1 Effect of opening Sulphur in LRF on desulphurization kinetics:
Opening or initial sulphur in LRF, significantly influences the desulphurization kinetics during
refining. Higher the opening sulphur content, higher will be the flux consumption and processing
time required to reduce the sulphur below the maximum allowable limit. The opening sulphur
content mainly depends on the sulphur content of input charge materials in the EAF. Therefore
charge materials with low sulphur content should be used in the EAF to control the opening
1.1 Effect of slag basicity on desulphurization kinetics and inclusion content:
A high slag basicity generally favours desulphurization of steel. Literature and common practices
reveal that most Si-killed steel slags contain CaO, MgO and SiO2 as their major components. The
optimum slag basicity for Si-killed steel at 1600oC that contains only CaO, MgO and SiO2 is 1.2.
However this is the case for a ternary slag consisting of CaO, MgO and SiO2 only. It is a wellknown fact that CaO-SiO2 slags have very low sulphide capacities. Therefore to improve the
sulphide capacities of slag, Alumina and fluorspar are added in the form of synthetic slag. This
improves the slag fluidity which enables the addition and dissolution of more CaO and hence
enhances the sulphide capacity. The effect of slag basicity on desulphurization kinetics with
respect to sulphur partition coefficient, degree of desulphurization, LRF processing time, final
sulphur content and inclusion content.
1.1.1 Effect on sulphur partition coefficeint:
Sulphur partition ratio or coefficient is defined as the ratio of sulphur content of the slag to thhe
sulphur content of the metal. It is obvious from this definition that higher sulphur partition ratio
is good for sulphur removal
1.1.1 Effect on degree of desulphurization:
Degree of desulphurization is the the total amount of sulphur removed from the steel during LRF
processing as a percentage of the initial or opening sulphur. Higher degree of desulphurization
indicates good sulphur removal
1.1.1 Effect on LRF processing time:
Rate of desulphurization is generally the rate determining step during LRF processing.
Therefore, lower LRF processing times indicate a high desulphurization rate and quick removal
of sulphur
Effect on final sulphur content
Lower sulphur content is beneficial for steel quality
1.1.1 Effect on inclusion content:

Although the method for inclusion rating of rail steels specifies that worst field rating should be
reported, for analysis purpose and to deduce a correlation the average field rating was considered
for this study
the sulphide inclusion content decreases with increase in slag basicity.

The general trend is that desulphurization kinetics improve with increase in slag basicity.
However there is a reversal in case of degree of desulphurization and LRF processing time for a
slag basicity beyond 2.5. This can be attribited to lime over saturization in the slag. The excess
lime in the slag does not exist in the dissolved state and increases the refractoriness of the slag.
The undissolved lime in the slag does not remove sulphur because it is the lime dissolved in the
liquid fraction of the slag that removes the sulphur from the steel. These lime oversaturated slags
have poor desulphurizing properties, because the amount of liquid that can desulphurize is
limited even though the total slag basicity as determined by the chemical analysis is high.
1.1 Effect of EMS parameters on sulphur segregation in rails:
Electromagnetic stirring (EMS) is an established technique of improving morphology of cast
structure which reduces the macro-segregation and porosity, if the current and frequency is
controlled. Current induced in the liquid pool of steel inside the mould generates an
electromagnetic force which tends to put the liquid metal into rotation. Stirring in the liquid pool
minimizes temperature and concentration gradients and causes fragmentation of dendrite tips
during solidification, promoting early columnar to equiaxed transition in the casting.
Consequently, a wider equiaxed zone and reduced macro-segregation is obtained in steels cast
with EMS. However, too high stirring leads to formation of a band of negative segregation,
typically known as white band in cast billets. Optimum stirring intensity facilitates
homogenization of composition and temperature subsequently minimization of macrosegregation.

These modifications in steel melting and casting operations ensured quick and efficient
desulphurization along with minimizing the sulphur content, segregation and inclusions in the