The consumption of energy is of key importance to the metal casting industry, with most energy expenditure, 55%, occurring during the melting process. However, until now it has been difficult to find data relating to energy use and crucibles and so to assess the cost of crucible ownership in a way that includes energy savings.
That situation has now changed, with a comparative study revealing that Morgan Advanced Materials' Salamander silicon carbide (SiC) crucible performs particularly well in terms of energy consumption. Furthermore, changes made to the crucible in light of the study mean that the resultant energy-optimised Salamander SiC may offer very considerable savings to foundries, through its increased energy transfer capability.
The high energy costs involved in metal casting are of significant concern to foundries, and so Morgan Advanced Materials commissioned an independent laboratory to compare the thermal conductivity of its Salamander SIC crucible with that of two competitor crucibles, from room temperature to 1600°C. This temperature range was set in order to include the temperatures that are reached when aluminium, copper and other non-ferrous alloys are melted.
The lab found that, during heating from room temperature, the Salamander SiC had a thermal conductivity value approximately double that of the competition. In other words, the Salamander SiC reached the target temperature most quickly, suggesting it used less energy and would achieve a higher throughput in use.
The comparison also showed that both the Salamander and 'Competitor 1' had advantageously low thicknesses in the upper and lower portions of the crucible, with similar thickness in the chine. This leads to faster heat transfer, which generates energy savings yet also maximises the strength of the crucible where it matters.
In light of these findings, Morgan Advanced Materials has carried out work to optimise the Salamander SiC, and, through the use of advanced materials, has reduced the wall thickness by a further 20% and increased thermal conductivity by 60% compared with 'Competitor 1'. As a result, the energy-optimised Salamander SIC now offers an increased energy transfer of more than 50%. Field results are currently being collected, but the data suggests that the optimised Salamander SIC may generate energy cost savings of 10-20%.
Salamander crucibles are widely recognised as being the world's first trademarked crucibles (having been trademarked in 1907), and are acknowledged as being among the highest quality products available, due to their ability to resist high temperatures and thermal shock. Salamander brand products are available in a range of sizes and materials, including carbon-bonded silicon carbide and ceramic bonded clay graphite, so there is a Salamander product to suit virtually any foundry melting application.
Salamander products are supplied by Morgan Molten Metal Systems, a business within Morgan Advanced Materials plc. Morgan Molten Metal Systems is an international provider of highly engineered solutions that apply advanced material technologies such as carbon, silicon carbide, oxide-based ceramics and advanced polymeric composites.