Many industrial processes such as metal manufacturing, cement production, power production and waste incineration require very high temperatures. 'The EU is funding the project 'Review and improvement of testing standards for refractory products' (RESTAR) to enhance the relevance of EN test methods for the required materials. Improving the standardised testing will enable EU small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in refractory manufacturing to significantly enhance their competitive positions in global markets. Currently, 65 different EN tests are employed for the classification and characterisation of refractory products. As a first step to improving the situation, RESTAR focuses on the five most commonly used. They are geared toward the six most widely used physical properties of bulk density, open porosity, cold crushing strength, modulus of rupture, permanent linear change and refractoriness under load. During the first nine months of the two-year project, the team began intensive experimental activity to identify the relevant parameters for evaluation of testing methods to increase the reliability of results. More than 45 parameters were investigated for 4 different refractory products leading to selection of a subset for the development of standards. Fifteen experiments have been designed, each for a single test method and a single refractory product. In addition, software has been purchased and implemented for both management and data analysis. In particular, one commercial package was used to develop the project website, organise documentation and monitor results. Additional software packages are being implemented in data processing, statistical analyses and analytical quality assurance. Statistical analyses of the first set of experimental results have been distributed to partners. RESTAR plans to make a significant upgrade to the current EN test methods for refractory materials, increasing their relevance, accuracy and reliability. This, in turn, will enhance the competitiveness of EU manufacturers of such materials, many of whom are SMEs, who will be able to deliver products of much higher and more consistent quality.
High-temperature materials, European standards, industrial processes, testing standards, refractory products