Morgan Helps Eliminate RCF Usage for Leading Global Aluminium Processor
Morgan’s Thermal Ceramics business has enjoyed a working relationship with Hydro Aluminium spanning more than two decades, providing not just products but a range of technical support and advice to assist the company in its drive towards continuous improvement in its manufacturing processes. Morgan has for many years supplied a range of refractory ceramic fibre (RCF) caster tips for the company’s continuous aluminium casting process.
The depth of the partnership between the two companies is exemplified by the visits made by Morgan’s own team to Hydro Aluminium’s Karmøy Norwegian facilities to gain as full an understanding as possible of how the company uses the Morgan products, and why the detailed specifications provided by Hydro Aluminium are so crucial to the success and quality of the manufacturing process. Meanwhile, the two companies’ research & development teams have forged a close partnership, with a number of ongoing joint projects and product testing initiatives.
The most recent project has seen Morgan support Hydro Aluminium in its drive to move away from RCF caster tips to help optimise on-site health & safety. Caster tips play a key role in feeding the aluminium into large steel rollers which roll the material to the required thickness.
Based on Morgan’s understanding of Hydro’s processes and pioneering work in vacuum-formed fibre product development, the Hydro team consulted Morgan about the possibility of manufacturing caster tips in other materials. They wanted something which would deliver the same thermal expansion, hardness and density specification as the previous RCF-based products, while also leaving a very clean, dust- and mark-free surface after machining, all at a competitive cost.
Most importantly, any alternative material needed to be exonerated from carcinogen classification under Nota Q of European Directive 67/548. This would ensure that REACH authorisation will not be a problem, a concern arising following the inclusion of Refractory Ceramic Fibres on the SVHC list in 2009 and its subsequent recommendation for authorisation in 2013 (an European Commission decision is awaited on confirming the inclusion of RCF on the authorisation list).
Drawing on the extensive expertise of its European research & development teams, and working in close collaboration with their counterparts at Hydro Aluminium, Morgan developed a range of bespoke caster tips made from its low biopersistent Superwool fibre range. Morgan created a special formulation of Superwool fibre for this application and even modified its production process to eliminate the possibility of the ‘shot’ within the fibre creating marks on the aluminium being processed.
The new products soon became a success following extensive casting trials, resulting in the elimination of all RCF materials from Hydro’s production plant in Norway.
As a direct result of this project, Morgan has been invited to join Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie (GDA), a European association of organisations involved in aluminium production and processing,
Morgan also now believes that there are other opportunities for the Superwool fibre caster tips with other companies with similar goals to Hydro Aluminium. Hydro, meanwhile, remains a loyal user of other Morgan products such as low biopersistent board products and components for launder systems, distribution boxes and baffles.
Jakob Sandvik Kvalevåg of Hydro Aluminium explained: “Our commitment to eliminating RCF usage in our facility is matched by Morgan’s own dedication to developing a bespoke material for our caster tips which is able to deliver optimum performance in high temperatures. As a truly RCF-free facility, we can demonstrate that we have the welfare of our employees at the core of what we do.”
For more information on Morgan’s Superwool product range see http://www.morganthermalceramics.com/products/superwool-fibre.