Many corporate refractories consumers do not have adequate in house expertise to do quality control on their refractories. In this situation, they suffer a number of problems;
Suppliers offer the wrong materials.
The client gives the wrong requirements.
The supplier offers a high grade material and supplies a low grade material.
The client cannot determine which aspect of his service environment is causing the refractory to fail.
The client is operating his furnace in a manner severely detrimental to refractory performance.
For all these problems, the client needs a part time consultant.
Q A Introduction
Since Keramicalia started 30 years ago we developed a practical in house hands - on quality control and QA system. It differs appreciably from norms like ISO and SABS, which are suitable for large scale manufacture of a fixed range of products. Keramicalia’s QA system is designed to provide the most appropriate material for any given application. We have a huge, cumbersome, heavy maintenance system to enable this. It is much more intense than ISO and SABS systems, with more paperwork, but all in areas appropriate to the nature of our service. Our system is available to anyone in the research and development field, who has the same challenges of retaining technology.
Research and Development
Keramicalia has undertaken about 1000 development projects over the whole spectrum of refractories technologies. We therefore have a wider range of technologies than the large refractories companies. We have a very sophisticated and well maintained system of technology records. We can therefore produce a refractory material appropriate to your application “off the shelf”, and refine it your ideal properties within days.
Everyone wants to make money out of tailings because they can get them free of charge.
Mineral products such as bricks, tiles, plasters, etc. need a coarse aggregate, sand size aggregate, fines, ultrafines and a binder.
The particles are used in these sizes in a proportion such that they pack together closely leaving only a small space for the cement or other binder to fill and bond them together.
If any one of the sizes is missing the cement content has to be increased to accommodate it. Since the cement is the expensive part, you can usually make a cheaper product by buying exactly the sizes of particles that you need. You therefore end up buying most of the sizes and using the tailings for the part where they fit.
Your cost saving is therefore typically 25 to 60% of the cheap stuff, which makes up about 10 to 20% of the total cost. That’s good as long the tailings are in a good location, e.g. in Gauteng, useless if they are in Namaqualand. Transport costs kill most tailings value.
Tailings are suitable if they are chemically inert or pozzolanic, shaped normally (not flakey etc), hard and durable.
A lot of metals; copper, gold, zinc and platinum are contained in sulphide minerals. Tailings from these sources generally have some sulphides, which oxidize once mined and exposed, giving high concentration of sulphuric acid. The presence of acid generally ruins cements, and makes most tailings unusable.
Generally, by the time you have made the tailings usable, they are more expensive than specifically produced minerals.
Keramicalia is not interested in tailings at all. We will evaluate samples for a fee:
Grading: (Particle size distribution); R1500
Testing in a product, e.g. bricks, tiles, plaster: R5500 each.
Testing for ceramics: R2500.
We have investigated many types of clay and not found one of commercial value so far. No tailings have been found with commercial value. Cenospheres, an extract of fly ash we have very successfully developed and commercialized. We have discovered some interesting properties in tailings, but so far failed to commercialize any.
Sometimes we get excellent samples, but on investigation on site the sample is not at all representative of the whole stockpile or deposit.
We will happily look at samples and advise free of charge what tests and evaluations we feel are worth pursuing.
Testing of Binders
We are inundated by requests to help develop binders for different projects. We cannot fulfill all the requests. We therefore have to be selective and do only the ones that are likely to succeed and bring us sales of binders.
The criteria for selection are the following:
- Will the product be commercially viable? (What price per ton can be achieved?)
- What are the technical requirements for the product? (Waterproof, water resistant, temperature, etc.)
- What is the material?
- What size are the particles?
- Is the process briquetting, extrusion or pelletizing?
- What is the scale of the project, in tons per hour?
- Does the client have the equipment?
- Have we got a sample?
- Has any work already been done?
If the project looks viable and easy we will do the initial tests free of charge. If it looks unlikely to succeed, we will charge for the initial testing, usually about R6000.00 plus VAT, on the understanding that the results are likely to be negative, but the client will get an idea of WHY it is not feasible.
If you want your product tested, submit a sample, answer question 1 to 9 and we will quote you on initial evaluation.
Many of our customers worry about continuity of supply after Dave dies. The business will be offered for sale by Dave’s children and executor. All the formulations are always for sale. The general rule of thumb for the formulation price is the selling price of one 20ft container load of the product.
A few formulations are worth a lot more and many are worth a lot less if you buy a formulation you buy the I.P. and you get all the relevant project development files. You can then get several manufacturers to quote on manufacture, and their quotes will be cost related, not I.P. related, and therefore considerably cheaper than the Keramicalia list price.