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Materials (Basel). 2018 Oct 19;11(10). pii: E2039. doi: 10.3390/ma11102039.

Characterization and Interpretation of the Aluminum Zone Refining through Infrared Thermographic Analysis.

Author information

1
IME Institute of Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany. xzhang@ime-aachen.de.
2
IME Institute of Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany. SFriedrich@ime-aachen.de.
3
IME Institute of Process Metallurgy and Metal Recycling, RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany. bfriedrich@ime-aachen.de.

Abstract

High purity metals are nowadays increasingly in demand to serve in electronic, photovoltaic, and target materials industries. The zone refining process is the most common way to achieve high purity in the final step of metal purification. Zone length and crystal growth rate are the main parameters that control the zone refining process. To determine these values, information about temperature profiles in the molten zone is necessary due to its direct correlation with these values. As the determination of this profile is not practically achievable in the present, the novel approach of applying an infrared (IR) camera during the zone refining of 2N8 aluminum is the focus of the investigation in this work. The whole temperature profile of the region near the molten zone was recorded by IR camera during the entire running process. The zone length and the crystal growth rate at each thermographic image shooting moment were successfully extracted by thermographic analysis. Results showed that both factors varied significantly, which is in contrast to the assumption in literature about their stability while running under constant input power and heater movement velocity, though noticeable purification took place in all of these experiments. However, the impurity concentration during refinement fluctuated remarkably. This was well-demonstrated by the tendency of variation in crystal growth rate attained in this work. These results provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of zone refining with an inductive heater and contributes to the optimization of the process.

KEYWORDS:

aluminum; crystal growth rate; infrared camera; process control; zone length; zone refining

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