, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 785-803

The development and experimental validation of a numerical model of an induction skull melting furnace

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Induction skull melting (ISM) is a widely used process for melting certain alloys that are very reactive in the molten condition, such as those based on Ti, TiAl, and Zr, prior to casting components such as turbine blades, engine valves, turbocharger rotors, and medical prostheses. A major research project has been undertaken with the specific target of developing improved techniques for casting TiAl components. The aims include increasing the superheat in the molten metal to allow thin section components to be cast, improving the quality of the cast components and increasing the energy efficiency of the process. As part of this, the University of Greenwich (United Kingdom) has developed a dynamic, spectral-method-based computer model of the ISM process in close collaboration with the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom), where extensive melting trials have been undertaken. This article describes in detail the numerical model that encompasses the coupled influences of turbulent flow, heat transfer with phase change, and AC and DC magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) in a time-varying liquid metal envelope. Associated experimental measurements on Al, Ni, and TiAl alloys have been used to obtain data to validate the model. Measured data include the true root-meansquare (RMS) current applied to the induction coil, the heat transfer from the molten metal to the crucible cooling water, and the shape of the semi-levitated molten metal. Examples are given of the use of the model in optimizing the design of ISM furnaces by investigating the effects of geometric and operational parameter changes.