Refractory Ceramics

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refractory ceramics are engineered materials that withstand high temperatures and extreme heat-related stresses, such as those found in industrial manufacturing processes. These materials have many other unique properties, including excellent oxidation resistance and corrosion-resistance, thermal conductivity, strength, and low thermal expansion.

Typical refractory materials include clay-based products, such as fireclays and alumina, and nonclay-based refractories, such as zircon, magnesite, and silicon carbide. They are bonded together by liquid-sintering or chemically reacting processes. The most common refractory material, alumina, is obtained by calcining bauxite or by mixing kaolinite with other raw materials.

Alumina ceramics are primarily used for insulating and reinforcing furnaces, heaters, and kiln linings as well as for fire protection. Other applications include crucibles, glass manufacturing, solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), nuclear reactors, and aerospace.

Most refractory ceramics are coarse in microstructure, with grains on the millimetre scale and pores of varying sizes incorporated into the product. This coarseness can reduce the load-bearing strength of refractory products, but can also increase their resistance to thermal shock. These coarse grains and pores can also blunt cracks, reducing the likelihood of fracture.