Artificial Inclusion Environments: Replicating Industry in the Laboratory

Akalya Raviraj, Stephen Spooner, J. Li, Nadia Kourra, Jason Warnett, Gert Abbel, W. Tiekink, Mark A Williams, Claire Davis, Sridhar Seetharaman

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The authors present a series of complementary test methods which were developed and used to investigate reactions between high aluminium steel and silica rich inclusions. Non-metallic inclusions (NMIs) cause many defects in the final steel product, therefore the ability to track their size, morphology and composition and correlate this with fundamental reaction kinetics provides important knowledge to support the production of clean quality steel products. Novel steel grades such as TRIP, TWIP and low-density steels have high aluminium contents; aluminium is a readily oxidisable species presenting the potential for instability and excessive reaction with commonly used mould powders that contain silica. A novel combination of techniques including HT-CLSM (High-Temperature Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope), XCT (X-ray computed tomography) and SEM/EDS (scanning electron microscopy/electron dispersive spectroscopy) have been used to study the interaction of entrained mould powder inclusions with steel at high temperatures simulating industrial conditions. This report presents a discussion on the development of techniques and samples to achieve representative and repeatable results that can provide information on the complex chemical and physical interaction phenomena with confidence. Each experimental technique had its own learning points and consequent results. Outcomes presented include possible confirmation of the chemical reaction rate controlling step being aluminium mass transfer; heterogeneous local environmental conditions including fluidity and chemical composition; and occurrence of spontaneous emulsification where the mould powder inclusion breaks apart into a cloud of smaller fragments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number754284
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Materials
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


The research was funded by EPSRC and Tata Steel Europe.


  • inclusion
  • high aluminium steel
  • reaction kinetics
  • continuous casting
  • spontaneous emulsification


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