Bauxite residue, also known as red mud, is generated during alumina production and is an abundant industrial waste material. Continuously increasing environmental concerns, together with scarcity of traditional mineral resources, have created a thrust to re-use the material. Red mud contains significant amounts of iron oxide and sodium hydroxide, hence a highly basic (pH > 10) slurry. In this research, the use of red mud as starting material for preparation of iron refining fluxes was evaluated.
Red mud based fluxes and hot metal were equilibrated in graphite crucibles at the temperature range of 1300 ºC to 1400 °C and oxygen partial pressures range of 10-2 atm to 10-6 atm. It was found that the sulphide capacity increases with lime addition to a maximum 32 wt% CaO and decreases with increasing A12O3, TiO2 and SiO2 content in the fluxes saturated with lime. An iron foil equilibrium technique was employed to obtain precise measurements of phosphorus distribution between carbon saturated iron and red mud based fluxes. The measurements indicate that the equilibrium phosphorus distribution ratio initially increases with rise in FeO or CaO concentration of the fluxes and then drops.
The melting behavior of the fluxes was also studied by visualizing the deformation of flux pellets as they were heated using a high temperature microscopy technique. Measurements of characteristic temperature for different fluxes indicated the melting property is a function of slag basicity. Therefore, optical basicity was used to establish a correlation between basicity of the red mud based fluxes and their melting properties.