Current industrial carbon electrodes are typically manufactured by blending petroleum coke particles (the filler) with molten coal tar pitch (the binder) and extruding the resultant mix to form the ‘green electrode’. This is then baked under controlled conditions. In case of usage as anodes in steel electric furnaces (or as other carbon and graphite products), the electrodes could undergo further processing like pitch impregnation or graphitization. During heat treatment, some of the organics are destructively distilled, vaporized or decomposed, resulting in carbon deposition in the electrode. As the vaporized materials exit the body of the electrode they cause porosity in the walls, which results in reduction in density, current carrying capacity and flexural strength.
The paper presents investigations to improve some physico-chemical characteristics of these electrodes (such as coefficient of thermal expansion, mechanical strengths, density, pore volume, porosity etc.), obtained in different manufacture steps, by addition of varieties of coal tar pitch. These include attempts to improve the chemical compatibility of the coke-pitch system in the mixture and establish the method and the point of introduction of additive, the concentration required and appropriate analytical control during the entire manufacture. Methods of analysis used include thermogravimetry and porosimetry. The microstructure of the electrodes is investigated through a wide range and the data obtained include pore size and pore volume distribution, surface area, porosity, particle size distribution and type of pores. The overall results clearly indicate better characteristics and performance for electrodes with additives as against electrodes without them, such as lower porosity, lower thermal expansion coefficients and greater mechanical strength. These data are analyzed with respect to the process step and electrode type.
Volume 134, 2022
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