In this study, a new method is proposed for the plasticization of inclusions by taking advantage of the behavior of alkali metals in lowering the inclusion melting point. A series of experiments with NaF additions to molten steel were carried out using a carbon tube furnace followed by simulated rolling tests using the solidified ingots and characterization of inclusions with the help of automated scanning electron microscopy. Compositional changes of the steel and evolution of gaseous species were evaluated using thermodynamic software FactSage 7.2 (ThermFact Inc., Montreal, QC, Canada). Based on this approach, NaF/steel/inclusion interactions and the effects of NaF addition on the melting point, size and deformability of inclusions were clarified. The modification of MnO-SiO2 inclusions by NaF also promoted the removal of inclusions and improved the cleanliness of steel. The results show that with the addition of NaF, the melting point of inclusions is greatly reduced, the deformability is improved, and the removal of inclusions is enhanced, all of which indicates a good prospect for industrial application.
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