The blast furnace is a huge counter-flow heat exchanger, lined with refractory brick, which is used to chemically reduce and physically convert iron oxides into liquid iron called “hot metal”. In the blast furnace, iron ore, coke and limestone are dumped into the top, and preheated air is blown into the bottom. The raw materials require 6 to 8 hours to descend to the bottom of the furnace, called the hearth, where they become the final product of liquid slag and liquid iron. The liquid products are drained (tapped) from the hearth at regular intervals. The hearth is a crucial region of the blast furnace, since the life of its refractory determines to a great extend the life span of the furnace. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the process of erosion and the wear mechanisms. The wear of the hearth lining (refractory) arises from a combination of hydrodynamic, chemical, and thermomechanical phenomena. Due to the very hostile environment inside the furnace, direct measurements of flow and temperature distributions that impact hearth wear is fundamentally precluded. Consequently, one resorts to physical and mathematical modeling of the process. In the current study, a mathematical model of the tapping process is presented. This model, in the current stage of an ongoing program in McMaster University, is two-dimensional and unsteady. The coke bed (packed bed or deadman) is assumed of uniform permeability. The effect of the coke-free layer height on the flow pattern and bottom wall shear stress distributions is investigated. Also, the effect of the taphole height is considered in other wards, the effect of the sump ratio is studied. The study is performed using Fluent which is a commercial computational fluid dynamics software package. From the study it was shown that, for a sitting bed, the flow resistance is uniform every where and liquid flows directly to the taphole along the shortest path which offers the least resistance in this case. When the packed bed (deadman) floats at a low height the liquid now has a region with much less resistance to flow in. Therefore, the liquid rushes into the coke-free layer putting higher stress on the hearth floor which means higher heat transfer rates and more erosion of the bottom wall of the hearth. The higher the floating is the weaker this effect. Changing the sump ratio also affects the stress load on the hearth floor. Deeper pool, higher taphole, has a less shear stress on the floor compared to a shallow one, lower taphole.

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