Abstract

PTA (Plasma Transferred Arc) reclamation of aluminum alloys by hard materials with a much higher melting temperature is very difficult. This is due to the high thermal diffusivity of these al1oys. Below a critical heat flux φc nothing happens and over φc the substrate melts very rapidly contrarily to what is observed with steel substrates. That explains probably why PTA is mainly used for steel reclamation. Thus the knowledge of heat flux transferred to the anode is a critical point to develop PTA reclamation on aluminum alloys and this is the aim of this paper. An experimental set-up was built to study the heat transferred to three substrates made of different materials : cast iron for reference, aluminum alloy and copper for its high thermal conductivity. The plasma torch was a Castolin Eutectic gun and allowed to inject a sheath gas around the plasma column. The copper, aluminum alloy and cast iron substrates, easily interchangeable, were the top of a water-cooled calorimeter allowing to determine the variation of the received heat flux with the working parameters : arc current, stand off distance, plasma forming gas momentum, sheath gas composition and momentum. The determination of the arc electric field allowed to calculate the arc diameter which was compared first with pictures taken with a video camera and second, with wear traces left on the anode material. Several correlations have been established to characterize the arc voltage and the anode heat flux.

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