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Hogan Steel Archive: Refractories

The “Hogan Steel Archive,” representing a three-year collaborative effort of the Walsh Library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections and Fordham’s Industrial Economics Research Institute, commemorates and preserves the remarkable steel legacy


The files on refractories for the iron and steel industry contain the following: refractories overviews and history, profile of the refractories industry, evolving changes in the industry, its raw materials, reviews of the U.S. industry in 1976 and 1983, analysis of the North American industry in 1988, list of producers in 1986-87, refractory sales by company in 1987, Japanese refractory statistics in 1973-75, refractories applications (blast-furnaces and stoves, BOF furnaces, electric furnaces, open-hearth furnaces, continuous casting, slidegates, tundish nozzles, pouring pits, and heating furnaces), pneumatic refractory castables, gunning techniques, lining-life determinants, alumina-silica refractories and modulus of rupture, abrasion resistance of refractories, thermal conductivity and expansion of refractory brick, Flo-Con ladles and slide-gates, profile of Harbison-Walker Refractories International, the Handbook of Castable Refractories by Harbison-Walker, Interstop slide-gate nozzles, Kurosaki refractory products, Martin & Pagenstecher GmbH hot-blast stoves and slinger systems for ladle lining, refractory outlook of Quigley Company, Inc., and Shinagawa refractories.

Sources of information about refractories in the Archive’s book and reference collection include: Refractories: Production and Properties by J.H. Chesters, Refractories, The Backbone of Industry by John D. Ramsey, History of Harbison-Walker Refractories Company by James E. MacCloskey, and Modern Refractory Practice by Harbison-Walker Refractories Company.

Analysis: Refractories are essential to the manufacture of iron and steel, which usually generates about half of all refractory sales, many times the volume of the next largest end use. It is, therefore, an understatement to say that as steel goes so go refractories. The major determinants of refractories demand in terms of quantity, quality, and type traditionally have been the level of iron and steel production activity and the continual efforts of steel companies to improve efficiency, lower costs, and upgrade the quality of their products.

Among the more important changes in steel technology most recently impacting refractories demand have been a trend to higher hot-blast temperatures in making iron, increases in the pre-treatment of molten iron in the ladle, shifts in the process mix of steel production, the replacement of ingot casting with continuous casting, and the related emphasis on making temperature-controlled clean steel through the application of ladle metallurgy techniques.

The most apparent results of these changes where refractories are concerned have been an increasing preference for higher-quality materials and for monolithics in place of bricks. Developments in the field of monolithics have been rapid, and in many steel-industry applications, bricks have been displaced by plastics and castables, which can be installed faster and at a lower labor cost. At the same time, the service lives of brick linings have been lengthened by the use of routine gunning maintenance. In the future, continuing research into higher-quality shaped and monolithic materials and the development of advanced systems for their application can be expected to provide the steel industry with added opportunities for both installation- and operating-cost savings.