Microstructure Evolution During Controlled Solidification of “Fe2O3”-CaO-SiO2 Liquids in Air

  • S. NicolEmail author
  • E. Jak
  • P. C. Hayes


The principal chemical components in iron ore sintering are Fe2O3, CaO, and SiO2. This sintering process consists of three key steps: heating, holding at peak temperature, and cooling. During the cooling stage, a liquid oxide solidifies to form the final sinter microstructures. To investigate the fundamental processes taking place during the cooling of sinters, a new experimental technique has been developed that allows the stages of solidification to be determined in isolation, rather than inferred from the final microstructures. Fe2O3-CaO-SiO2 oxide samples of a bulk composition having a CaO/SiO2 mass ratio of 3.46 and 73.2 wt pct Fe2O3 were cooled in air from 1623 K (1350 °C) at 2 K/s, quenched at 5 K temperature intervals from 1533 K to 1453 K (1260 °C to 1180 °C), and analyzed using Electron Probe Micro X-Ray Analysis (EPMA). During cooling, four distinct stages were observed, consisting of the phase assemblages Liquid + Hematite (I), Liquid + Hematite + C2S(II), Liquid + C2S + CF2(III), and C2S + CF2 + CF (IV). This solidification sequence differs from that predicted under equilibrium and Scheil–Gulliver Cooling. Importantly, no Silico-Ferrite of Calcium (SFC) phase was observed to form on solidification of the liquid. Based on the microstructures formed and liquid compositions, measured by EPMA, it was demonstrated that kinetic factors play a major role in determining the phases and microstructures formed under the conditions investigated.



The authors would like to thank BHP Billiton for financial support to enable this research to be carried out, and the Centre of Microstructure and Microanalysis (CMM), the University of Queensland for providing electron microscope facilities that enabled the microanalytical measurements to be undertaken. This research was supported by an Education Endowment Fund (EEF) scholarship from the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) and an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship.


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© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society and ASM International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pyrometallurgy Innovation Centre (PYROSEARCH), School of Chemical EngineeringThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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