On the Coupling Mechanism of Equiaxed Crystal Generation with the Liquid Flow Driven by Natural Convection During Solidification

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The influence of the melt flow on the solidification structure is bilateral. The flow plays an important role in the solidification pattern, via the heat transfer, grain distribution, and segregations. On the other hand, the crystal structure, columnar or equiaxed, impacts the flow, via the thermosolutal convection, the drag force applied by the crystals on the melt flow, etc. As the aim of this research was to further explore the solidification–flow interaction, experiments were conducted in a cast cell (95 * 95 * 30 mm3), in which an ammonium chloride–water solution (between 27 and 31 wt pct NH4Cl) was observed as it solidified. The kinetic energy (KE) of the flow and the average flow velocity were calculated throughout the process. Measurements of the volume extension of the mush in the cell and the velocity of the solid front were also taken during the solidification experiment. During the mainly columnar experiments (8 cm liquid height) the flow KE continuously decreased over time. However, during the later series of experiments at higher liquid height (9.5 cm), the flow KE evolution presented a strong peak shortly after the start of solidification. This increase in the total flow KE correlated with the presence of falling equiaxed crystals. Generally, a clear correlation between the strength of the flow and the occurrence of equiaxed crystals was evident. The analysis of the results strongly suggests a fragmentation origin of equiaxed crystals appearing in the melt. The transition from purely columnar growth to a strongly equiaxed rain (CET) was found to be triggered by (a) the magnitude of the coupling between the flow intensity driven by the equiaxed crystals, and (b) the release and transport of the fragments by the same flow recirculating within the mushy zone. Graphical Abstract: Coupling mechanism at the origin of CET: 1-2 strong flow running through the mush transporting out dendrite fragments (white dots); 3-4 equiaxed growth and drag of the downward flow. If the vortex is sufficiently stable, the horizontal configuration can lead to freckle appearing; a) vertical solidification front; b) horizontal solidification front.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1708-1724
Number of pages17
JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions A: Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2018

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