You may not know what that really hot place that pizza or cakes are made from or where we get bricks from to build houses. These are usually made in very high heat places made of fire bricks. These are bricks used to line furnaces, kilns, fireboxes or fireplaces at home. These bricks are also termed as refractories due to their high resistance to heat.
Fire bricks are very much heat resistant and the Refectories are the heat resistant materials that make up the lining of furnaces, as they are resistant to thermal stress and any other physical phenomena induced by heat, these materials must also withstand chemical agents that they are subject to. They are more heat resistant than metals and should heat applications that are way higher than 500 degrees Celsius.
What are they made of?
Fire bricks that are used for building kilns or very hot ovens contain aluminium oxide which is the highest conductor of heat. Reftactories on the other hand are produced from natural and synthetic materials which are usually non metallic; however combinations of compounds and minerals like alumina, fireclays, bauxite, chromite, dolomite, magnesite, and a few others.
What are they used for?
You may not know for sure what fire bricks are used for. These are bricks used to build anything that has to use very high heat. This includes kilns, traditional ovens, or gold purifiers. They are best suited for these as they can withstand so much heat. If you use other materials like ordinary brick or stone, the results may not be the same. Refractories too are made to build structures that are subjected to high temperatures, which vary from really sophisticated, such as those in factories or re-entry heat shields for a space shuttle.
Now on a bit of the account and evolution of these materials shows that earlier they consisted of pitch-bonded dolomite and these were not effective as they were not heat resistant and they couldn’t last very long before the furnace needed relining. When it was discovered that one could combine magnesium oxide with pitch-bonded dolomite increased the heat resistance.
Subsequently, refractories were developed and they could withstand so much heat and the furnaces could burn for very long.
It is worth considering that without these refractories, no other industry would have existed to this day. Whenever anything had to be produced it would have been impossible not to have refractories involved. This hasn’t changed today. The only thing that may have changed is the type of ingredients used to make the blocks or bricks from clay to basic rocks. This came with the change for the furnace design and the temperature raise.
This shows that this is something that began a while back and there has been quite a progress of it. From bloomeries to iron and steel works; from cylinder glass to pilkintons, all the way to locomotives. Without these industries wouldn’t be here today. The refractories industries surely shaped the Industrial revolution.