Caractérisation des propriétés mécaniques de la pâte de carbone à 150°C dans le but d’optimiser la mise en forme des anodes utilisées dans les cuves Hall-Héroult

Authors: Thibodeau, Stéphane
Advisor: Fafard, MarioDarvishi Alamdari, Houshang
Abstract: The carbon anode electrodes are consumable elements used in the electrochemical reaction of a Hall-Héroult cell. These are massively produced through a production line whose forming process is a critical step because it defines part of their quality. The currently used forming process is not fully optimized. Significant density gradients inside the anodes decrease their performance in the electrolysis cells. Even today, carbon anodes are produced with only their overall density and final mechanical properties as quality criteria. The anode manufacturing is optimized empirically directly on the production line. However, the quality of the anodes resides in a uniform electrical conductivity to minimize the current concentrations that have several adverse effects on their performance and aluminum production costs. This thesis is based on the assumption that the electrical conductivity of the anode is influenced only by its density, considering a uniform chemical composition. The objective is to characterize the model parameters to feed a constitutive law that will model the forming process of the anode blocks. Numerical modeling is used to analyze the anode paste behaviour during its forming process. Therefore, it becomes possible to predict the anode density gradients and optimize the forming process parameters with the aim of improving their quality. The selected model is based on the real mechanical and tribological anode paste properties. The first study of this thesis aims to improve the understanding of the constitutive behaviour of the carbon paste observed during preliminary paste compression tests. This study is based on compression tests on hot carbon paste and dry aggregates performed in a rigid mould instrumented with a piezoelectric sensor to record acoustic emissions. This analysis was performed prior to the characterization of the paste properties in order to better interpret its mechanical behaviour given by the complex carbonaceous nature of this material whose mechanical properties evolve as a function of density. A first experimental setup was specifically developed to characterize the Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio of the anode paste. This apparatus was also used in the characterization of the paste viscosity (time dependence). There exists no appropriate test to characterize these properties for this type of material heated to 150°C. A deformable wall mould instrumented with strain gauges was used to perform the experiments. A second assembly was developed to characterize the paste’s static and kinetic friction coefficients. The paste was also heated to 150°C. The model was used to characterize the paste’s mechanical properties by reverse identification and simulate the forming process of laboratory scaled anodes. The paste’s mechanical properties obtained by the experimental characterization were compared with those obtained by the reverse identification method. The density mappings obtained from simulations were also compared to the density mappings of the laboratory pressed anodes. Tomography was used to produce these density mappings. Simulation results confirm the major potential of using numerical modeling as an optimization tool of the carbon paste forming process. Numerical modeling is used to evaluate the influence of each of the forming parameters without interrupting production and/or implementing expensive changes in the production line. Thus, this tool allows the exploration of ways to optimize the forming process and increase the quality of the anodes such of the modulation frequency parameters, the modification of the initial paste distribution into the mould, the possibility of forming inverted anodes (upside down), etc.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2016
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/26842
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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