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By Alan Kaye

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The massive electrodes dip into the mixture of quartz and reducing agents. One of the largest silicon smelting furnaces in the world, at the Norwegian plant, operates at 27000 kVA with a voltage of 250 and an amperage of 85000. 45 m in diameter. The furnace produces about 45 tonnes of silicon per day with a recovery level of 70—80%. Depending on the operating conditions, silicon reducing furnaces operate with a power consumption of between 12 000 to 14 000kWh/tonne of silicon3. Between 90 to 100kg of carbon electrode is consumed per tonne of silicon.

Molten metal deliveries The amount of heat required to melt 1 tonne of aluminium alloy and bring it to casting temperature will certainly be more than the theoretical 253 OOOkcal. That heat must be used over again when the die caster has to remelt metal previously cast into ingots at the smelting plant. Under suitable conditions, molten aluminium alloy can be delivered, thus avoiding the remelting of ingots and saving energy, labour and melting space. Molten metal is delivered1 either in ladles which are emptied on arrival at the die casting foundry, or in a dispensing unit which is left, while an 'empty' is taken back to the smelter.

The cost of fuel oil has multiplied 10 times during the past decade; natural gas appeared likely to become a powerful competitor against oil for melting but considerable 50 Melting equipment for aluminium alloys 51 price increases, coupled with restriction of supplies in the UK, made gas less favourable than had been anticipated. Electric melting, once thought of as being limited to situations requiring specially high quality control, now competes on a cost basis and is favoured for ecological reasons.

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