Additonal authors: Bellemans, I.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
In the metallurgical industry, furnace cooling is often employed to enhance furnace lifetime. Hence, the pyrometallurgical phase comes in close contact with a non-air coolant. The proximity of the pyrometallurgical phases to the coolants may lead to dangerous situations. In case of a breach of the cooling circuit, the contact between a hot and a cold liquid may cause a vapour explosion. The outcome of this vapour explosion includes a pressure wave which could result in damage to the furnace, bodily injuries or even casualties. To prevent such dramatic events, the origin of vapour explosions is currently being studied in more detail. For this purpose, OpenFOAM was used to perform Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. In a first step, simulations were run to get a better idea of the influence of the compressibility on the simulations. The obtained results help in getting a better insight on the need of computational power, and possible numerical errors using compressible or incompressible solvers in future simulations. In a second step, systems without vapour explosions were simulated and compared to experimental results with mercury and aluminum.
Humanity started using metals for tools around the Chalcolitic (~7400 cal BC), when copper was melted in small furnaces (Radivojevic, Rehren, Farid, Pernicka, & Camurcouglu, 2017). Nowadays, metallurgy has grown into a major industry and it has become impossible to imagine society without metals.
In the pyrometallurgical industry, coolants (low temperature liquids, for example water) and pyrometallurgical phases (high temperature liquids, such as slags, mattes and alloys) are typically present in close proximity of each other. The interaction between these two phases can have catastrophic consequences (Tveit et al., 2008; Ferguson & Zsamboky, 2017). A vapour explosion may occur as the consequence of the rapid evaporation and expansion of the coolant. Whereas the volume of a gas increases linearly with the temperature (approximately a factor four by heating from 100°C to 1300°C), a simple calculation of the ratio of the two specific volumes shows that evaporation causes the volume of water to increase by a factor of 1700 at 100°C and ambient pressure (Table 1 and equation (1)), a number that was also found in literature (George, Nexhip, George-Kennedy, Foster, & Walton, 2006). The volume change occurs so fast that it resembles an explosion, hence the name vapour explosion. Such an explosion at industrial scale can cause economical losses, bodily injuries or even fatalities.