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- PublicationIdentification of key liquid metal flow features in the physical conditioning of molten aluminium alloy with high shear processingAlthough treating molten alloy with high shear processing (HSP) can dramatically refine the microstructure of solidified aluminium alloys, it was also recently employed as part of an effective route to purification of contaminated aluminium alloy scrap. The key mechanisms of HSP include the dispersion of large aluminium oxide films and clusters into very fine oxide particles by the high shear rate, and the redistribution of bulk melt by the agitation. These fine oxides act as nucleation sites for iron-based intermetallic phases, the formation of which is a pre-cursor to purification of the alloy. Macroscopic flow features of HSP, such as flow rate and shear rate, influence its performance significantly. Simulation based on Computational Fluid Dynamics was used to predict key features of fluid flow during HSP in a static direct chill (DC) caster. It was found that the distribution of shear rate and mass flow rate is highly nonuniform in the caster, and only in the close vicinity of the mixing head is there a relatively high level of shear rate and effective melt agitation. Therefore, effective dispersion of oxide films and clusters, and resulting significant nucleation of the intermetallics and/or primary aluminium phase, can only occur near the mixing head, and not throughout the whole crucible. Confidence in the model validity was built, by comparison with post-solidification microstructures in a previous experiment with similar process parameters and geometry.
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