Studies On Transport Phenomena During Solidification In Presence Of Electromagnetic Stirring
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In several applications of casting, dendritic microstructure is not desirable as it results in poor mechanical properties. Enhancing the fluid flow in the mushy zone by stirring is one of the means to suppress this dendritic growth. The strong fluid flow detaches the dendrites from the solid-liquid interface and carries them into the mold to form slurry. The detached dendrites coarsen in the slurry and form into rosette or globular particles based on processing conditions. This slurry offers less resistance to flow even at a high solid fraction and easily flow into the die-cavity. The above principle is the basis of a new manufacturing technology called “semi-sold forming” (SSF), in which metal alloys are cast in the semi-solid state. This technique has several advantages over other existing commercial casting processes, such as reduction of macrosegregation, reduction of porosity and low forming efforts. A major challenge existing in semisolid manufacturing is the production of metallic slurry in a consistent manner. The main difficulty arises because of the presence of a wide range of process parameters affecting the quality of the final product. An established method of producing slurry is by stirring the alloy using an electromagnetic stirrer. From an elaborate review of literature, it is apparent that solidification in presence of electromagnetic stirring involves a wide range of shear and cooling rates variation. However, the CFD models found in the literature are generally not based on accurate rheological properties, which are known to be functions of the relevant process parameters. Hence, there is a clear need for a comprehensive numerical model for such a solidification process, involving accurate rheological data for the semisolid slurry subjected to a range of processing conditions. The objective of the present work is to develop a numerical model for studying the transport phenomena during solidification with linear electromagnetic stirring. The study is presented in the context of a billet making process in a cylindrical mould using linear electromagnetic stirring. The mould consists of two parts: the upper part of the mould is surrounded by a linear electromagnetic stirrer forming the zone of active stirring, and the lower part of the mould is used to cool the liquid metal. The material chosen for the study is Al-7.32%Si (A356) alloy, commonly used for die casting applications. A complete numerical model will therefore have two major components: one dealing with rheological behavior of the semisolid slurry, and the other involving macroscopic modeling of the process using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques. For the latter part of the model, determination of rheological behavior of the slurry is a pre-requisite. The rheological characteristics of the stirred slurry, as a function of shear rate and cooling rate, is determined experimentally using a concentric cylinder viscometer. Two different series of experiments are performed. In the first series, the liquid metal is cooled at a constant cooling rate and sheared with different shear rates to get the effect of shear rate on viscosity. In the second series of experiments, the liquid metal is cooled at different cooling rates and sheared at a constant shear rate to obtain the effect of cooling rate on viscosity. During all these experiments, the shear rate is calculated from the measured angular velocity of spindle using inductive position sensor; viscosity of the slurry is calculated based on the torque applied to the slurry and angular velocity of the spindle; and the solid fraction is calculated from measured temperature of the slurry based on Schiel equation. From these data, a constitutive relation for variable viscosity is established, which is subsequently used in a numerical model for simulating the transport phenomena associated with the solidification process. The numerical model uses a set of single-phase governing equations of mass, momentum, energy and species conservation. The set of governing equations is solved using a pressure based finite volume technique, along with an enthalpy based phase change algorithm. The numerical simulation of this process also involves modeling of Lorentz force field. The numerical study involves prediction of temperature, velocity, species and solid fraction distribution. First, studies are performed for a base case with a moderate stirring intensity of 250A primary current and 50 Hz frequency. It is found that the electromagnetic forces have maximum values near the mould periphery, which results in an ascending movement of the slurry near the mould periphery. Because of continuity, this slurry comes down along the axis of the mould. Stirring produces a strong fluid flow which results good mixing in the melt. Correspondingly, a homogenized temperature distribution is found in the domain. Because of strong stirring, the solid fraction in the slurry is found to be distributed almost uniformly. It is also found that fragmentation of dendrites increases solid fraction in the slurry with processing time. During processing, the continuous rejection of solute makes the liquid progressively solute enriched. It is predicted from the present study that the remaining liquid surrounding the primary solid phase finally solidifies with a near-eutectic composition, which is desirable from the point of view of semisolid casting. Correspondingly, a set of experiments are performed to validate the numerically predicted results. The numerical predictions of temperature variations are in good agreement with experiments, and the predicted flow field evolution correlate well with the microstructures obtained through experiments at various locations, as observed in the numerical results. Subsequently the study is extended to predict the effect of process parameters such as stirring intensity and cooling rate on the distributions of solid fraction and solute in the domain. It is found, from the simulation, that the solidification process is significantly affected by stirring intensity. At increasing primary excitation current, the magnitude of Lorentz force increases and results in increase of slurry velocity. Correspondingly, the fragmentation of dendrites from the solid/liquid is more during solidification at higher stirring intensity, which increases the fraction of solid in the slurry to a high value. It is also found that the solute and fraction of solid in the liquid mixes well under stirring action. Thus, a near uniform distribution of solute and solid fraction is found in the domain. It is found that stirring at high currents produces high solid fraction in the liquid. Also, at very low cooling rate, the solid fraction in the liquid increases. The present study focuses on the model development and experimental validation for solidification with linear electromagnetic stirring for producing a rheocast billet. Further studies highlighting the effects of various process parameters on the thermal history and microstructure formation are also presented.