|Monthly Tech-Tip |
The top one is EP Kaolin, the bottom one is Old Hickory M23 Ball Clay (these materials are typical of their respective types). These materials have low alkali contents (especially the kaolin), this lack of flux means they are theoretically highly refractory mixes of SiO2 and Al2O3. It is interesting that, although the kaolin has a much larger ultimate particle size, it is shrinking much more (23% total vs. 14%). This is even more unexpected since, given that it has a lower drying shrinkage, and should be more refractory. Further, the kaolin has a porosity of 0.5% vs. the ball clay's 1.5%. The kaolin should theoretically have a much higher porosity? What is more, both of these values are unexpectedly low. This can partly be explained by the particle packing achieved because of the fine particle size. Despite these observations, their refractory nature is ultimately proven by the fact that both of these can be fired much higher and they will only slowly densify toward zero porosity.
In the ceramic industry, refractory materials are those that can withstand a high temperature without deforming or melting. Refractories are used to build and furnish kilns.