The present work focuses on mineral reactions and slag formation of LKAB olivine iron ore pellets (MPBO) subjected to reducing conditions in the LKAB experimental blast furnace (EBF). The emphasis is on olivine reactions with surrounding iron oxides. Many factors influence the olivine behaviour. The study was performed by use of micro methods; optical microscopy, micro probe analysis, micro Raman and Mössbuer spectroscopy and thremodynamic modeling. During manufacturing, in oxidising atmosphere at high temperature (1350°C), olivine alterations occur through slag formation and rim reactions with iron oxides and other additives. To be able to describe olivine behaviour in the rather complex blast furnace reduction process one has to consider factors such as reactions kinetics, reduction degree of iron oxides, vertical and horizontal position in the furnace and reactions with alkali. Samples were collected from the EBF both from in shaft probing during operation and from excavation following quenching of the EBF.
The initial slag forming olivine consist of primary forsterite – (Mg1.9Fe0.1)SiO4 – with inclusions of hematite and an amorphous silica rich phase, a first corona with lamellae of magnesioferrite, olivine and orthopyroxene, a second corona of amorphous silica and magnesioferrite. During reduction in the upper shaft in the EBF (700-900°C) Fe3+ reduces to Fe2+. The amorphous silica in the second corona absorbs alkali, Al, Fe2+, Mg, and Ca and form glasses of varying compositions. The lamellae in the first corona will merge into a single phase olivine rim. With further reduction the glasses in the second corona will merge with the olivine rim forming an iron rich olivine rim and leaving the elements that do not fit into the olivine crystal lattice as small silicate glass inclusions. Diffusion of magnesium and iron between olivines and iron oxides increase with increasing temperature in the lower shaft of the EBF (750-1100°C). In the cohesive zone of the EBF (1100-1200°C) Fe2+ is not stable any longer and Fe2+ will be expelled from the olivine as metallic iron blebs, and the olivine will form a complex melt with a typical composition of alkali-Al2O3-MgO-SiO2. Alkali plays an important role in this final olivine consumption.
The quench time for samples collected with probes and excavation are minutes respectively hours. A study of the quench rate’s effect on the phases showed no differences in the upper shaft. However, in the lower shaft wüstite separates into wüstite and magnetite when wüstite grows out of its stability field during slow cooling of excavated samples. There is also a higher alkali and aluminium deposition in the glass phases surrounding olivines in excavated pellets as a result of alkali and aluminium gas condensing on the burden in the EBF during cooling.
Coating applied to olivine pellets was studied in the EBF with the aim to investigate its behaviour, particularly its ability to capture alkali. The coating materials were kaolinite, bauxite, olivine and limestone. No significant reactions were observed in the upper shaft. In the lower shaft a majority of the phases were amorphous and reflecting the original coating compositions. Deposition from the EBF gas phase occurs and kalsilite (KAlSiO4) is found in all samples; coating used for binding alkali is redundant from a quality perspective.