The mechanical strength of an Al-30% Si alloy in the mushy zone was estimated by using a novel centrifugation apparatus. In the apparatus, the alloy melt was partially solidified, forming a porous structure made of primary Si platelets (Si foam) while cooling. Subsequently, pressure generated by centrifugal force pushed the liquid phase out of the foam. The estimated mechanical strength of the Si foam in the temperature range 850-993 K was very low (62 kPa to 81 kPa). This is about two orders of magnitude lower than the mechanical strength at room temperature as measured by compressive tests. When the centrifugal stress was higher than the mechanical strength of the foam, the foam fractured, and the primary Si crystallites were extracted along with the Al-rich melt. Therefore, to maximize the centrifugal separation efficiency of the Al-30% Si alloy, the centrifugal stress should be in the range of 62-81 kPa.
Keywords: Si–Al alloy; centrifugation; mechanical strength; porous materials; solvent refining.