Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 888-904

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Failure Mechanisms in High Chrome Oxide Gasifier Refractories

  • James P. BennettAffiliated withNational Energy Technology Laboratory–USDOE Email author 
  • , Kyei-Sing KwongAffiliated withNational Energy Technology Laboratory–USDOE


Gasification is a high-temperature, high-pressure chemical process used to convert a carbon feedstock into CO and H2 (syngas) for use in power generation and the production of chemicals. It is also a leading candidate as a source of hydrogen in a hydrogen economy and is one of several technologies expected to see increased use in advanced fossil fuel power systems in the future. Gasification is being evaluated because of its high efficiency, its ability to capture CO2 for sequestration or reuse in other applications, and its potential for carbon feedstock fuel flexibility. At the heart of the gasification process is a gasifier, a high pressure chemical reaction vessel used to contain the interactions between carbon and water in a shortage of oxygen, producing syngas. The gasifier is lined with high chrome oxide materials to protect the containment vessel. Gasifiers are complex systems, and failure of the refractories used to line them was identified by industry as a limitation to their reliability and availability and to their increased use. NETL researchers have examined spent high-Cr2O3 (over 90 pct Cr2O3) refractories from numerous gasifiers to determine in-service failure mechanisms. This analysis revealed that premature failure of the high chrome oxide refractories was related to ash in the carbon feedstock, which liquefies during gasification and interacts with the refractories, leading to wear by chemical dissolution or spalling (structural and chemical). A discussion of this postmortem wear of spent refractory materials and of thermodynamic modeling used to explain microstructural changes leading to wear are explained in this article. This information will serve the basis to develop improved performance refractory materials.