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Cathodic Wear by Delamination of the Al4C3 Layer During Aluminium Electrolysis

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In aluminium reduction cells, an electrochemical reaction occurs between the molten electrolyte film below the aluminium pad and the carbon cathode blocks, leading to the formation of an Al4C3 layer on the cathode blocks. The properties and role of this Al4C3 layer are therefore important for the aluminium production industry, as they could help increase the life expectancy of electrolysis cells and impact the resistive voltage losses. The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of the formation, growth and mechanical stability of the aluminium carbide layer formed on top of the cathode block. A reliable scenario describing both the mechanical and electrochemical behaviours of the Al4C3 layer is proposed. For different industrial graphitized cathode grades, a series of experiments were carried out in a bench-scale Hall-Héroult electrolysis cell and the Al4C3 layer formed on top of the cathode was characterized. Thereafter, the CALPHAD method was combined with density functional theory simulations to estimate the electrical and physical properties of Al4C3 together with the phase equilibria occurring at the interface between the carbide layer and the aluminium pad and the cathode blocks respectively. From these calculations, a scenario for carbide layer growth and mechanical stability was established.

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This research was supported by funds from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Rio Tinto Aluminium and Carbone Savoie. Computations were made on the supercomputer Briaré at the Université de Montréal managed by Calcul-Québec and Compute Canada.

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Correspondence to Aïmen E. Gheribi.

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Manuscript submitted June 4, 2019.



A.1 Al4C3-SiC Phase Diagram

See Figure A.1.

Fig. A.1

Al4C3-SiC phase diagram calculated via the FactSage software and the FTOxCN database

A.2 Solubility of Si in Al4C3 Layer

See Figure A.2.

Fig. A.2

Calculated solubility of Si in the Al4C3 layer at 1233 K as a function of Si dissolved in the liquid aluminium pad. The calculations were performed via the FactSage software and FTOxCN database.[9]

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Gheribi, A.E., Fini, M.F., Rivoaland, L. et al. Cathodic Wear by Delamination of the Al4C3 Layer During Aluminium Electrolysis. Metall and Materi Trans B 51, 161–172 (2020).

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