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Endersmens

Aluminum Smelter - Project (Phase I)

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Well, I saw a video of how to make your own Aluminum can smelter, and decided I wanted to do it. It will be a bit of a project, and its really cool, so I thought I would log my progress here, that way others can make it their project too. WARNING: Be Careful if attempting this project! Follow all Safety Precautions shown in the video!

I have removed the video, since using plaster of paris will be very dangerous.

Well, here are my progress charts:

[TABLE=class: cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_grid, width: 500]

[tr]

[td]Overall Completion[/td]

[td]0%[/td]

[/tr][/table]

[TABLE=class: cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_grid, width: 500]

[TR]

[TD]Acquiring Materials[/TD]

[TD]Phase I[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]6 Gallon Steel Bucket[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Plaster of Paris[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[tr]

[td]Play Sand[/td]

[td]Not Acquired[/td]

[/tr]

[TR]

[TD]Pail[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]1"x 10" Steel Pipe[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]1" PVC adapter[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]1" PVC pipe[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]3" Steel Pipe and End Cap[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]U Bolts x 2[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Charcoal Briquettes[/TD]

[TD]Not Acquired[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[td]Progress[/td]

[td]0%[/td][/tr]

[/TABLE]

Note: Everything listed above can typically be bought at any standard hardware store.

[TABLE=class: cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_grid, width: 500]

[TR]

[TD]Building[/TD]

[TD]Phase II[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Mix Plaster and Sand in Steel Bucket[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Let set with Pail in center[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[tr]

[td]Drill hole for Air Pipe[/td]

[td]Not Finished[/td]

[/tr]

[TR]

[TD]Fit Air Pipe[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Make Lid[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TR]

[td]Progress[/td]

[td]0%[/td][/tr]

[/TABLE]

[TABLE=class: cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_cms_table_grid, width: 500]

[TR]

[TD]Things to Do With Smelter[/TD]

[TD]Phase III[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Melt 30-40 Cans[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Pour Molten Aluminum into Ingots[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[tr]

[td]Smelt Ingots[/td]

[td]Not Finished[/td]

[/tr]

[TR]

[TD]Use for Custom Aluminum Molds[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD]Make Solid Aluminum Kerbal[/TD]

[TD]Not Finished[/TD]

[/TR]

[tr][td]Make Solid Aluminum Space Ship[/td]

[td]Not Finished[/td]

[/TR]

[TR]

[td]Progress[/td]

[td]0%[/td][/tr]

[/TABLE]

Hopefully, the project will be completed within a week from now, if all goes well. :)

Well, with me luck! And Good luck to anyone else trying out this project!

Edited by Endersmens

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Haven't made my own enchanting table yet.

Yet.

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You are much more ambitious than I, Best of luck! I was thinking of making a thread about my own project, but yours is by far more interesting lol.

You have a rough timeframe?

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You are much more ambitious than I, Best of luck! I was thinking of making a thread about my own project, but yours is by far more interesting lol.

You have a rough timeframe?

Thanks!

Tomorrow will hopefully be materials acquiring day. Setting it up won't take more than a few hours. Making stuff, maybe a few days.

Updating the OP with Projected Timeline and where to get the materials.

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I would add to the list
.

Woooaaahhhhhh........

I don't think we have fire ant colonies here though. Just regular ants. Maybe a smaller scale one?

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Woooaaahhhhhh........

I don't think we have fire ant colonies here though. Just regular ants. Maybe a smaller scale one?

If you do decide to do that make sure it's a pest nest instead of somewhere where they aren't hurting anything.

Also three things.

Get a set of welding gloves, cover alls, steel toe boots and a full face shield.

Secondly before you try and melt any metal set the metal in a normal fire to burn away any moisture present. and HEAT YOUR MOLDS before pouring, nine times out of ten it's fine but there is going to be that one time something bad to going to happen. I have scars to prove this.

Finally, get a good fire extinguisher and learn how to put out fires that could happen from metal casting.

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I hope you won't use plaster of Paris (gypsum) for the foundry. At those temperatures, gypsum not only loses crystal water, it also loses sulphur(VI) oxide, SO3 in gaseous phase. That's not only extremely corrosive for our mucosa, but it also messes up with aluminium.

You need to use a refractory material like firebrick. You can make your own mixture out of perlite, clay, slaked lime, even some graphite dust will help.

Gypsum can be used for molds for aluminium casting, but it always needs to be dried on maximum temperature in a regular oven. That means over 250 °C. Then it loses a great deal of crystal water (also getting fragile in process), and gets porous, very lightweight and perfect for casting of aluminium and metals with lower melting points.

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If you do decide to do that make sure it's a pest nest instead of somewhere where they aren't hurting anything.

Also three things.

Get a set of welding gloves, cover alls, steel toe boots and a full face shield.

Secondly before you try and melt any metal set the metal in a normal fire to burn away any moisture present. and HEAT YOUR MOLDS before pouring, nine times out of ten it's fine but there is going to be that one time something bad to going to happen. I have scars to prove this.

Finally, get a good fire extinguisher and learn how to put out fires that could happen from metal casting.

Gloves: check

Coveralls: Probably not

Boots: check

Mask: half-check (half face mask)

My mold will be foam inside of wet sand. the molten aluminum instantly vaporizes the foam and fills the void. Its a cheap reusable mold.

I will have water buckets and hoses for extinguishing. (and guys this is charcoal we're talking about here)

I hope you won't use plaster of Paris (gypsum) for the foundry. At those temperatures, gypsum not only loses crystal water, it also loses sulphur(VI) oxide, SO3 in gaseous phase. That's not only extremely corrosive for our mucosa, but it also messes up with aluminium.

You need to use a refractory material like firebrick. You can make your own mixture out of perlite, clay, slaked lime, even some graphite dust will help.

Gypsum can be used for molds for aluminium casting, but it always needs to be dried on maximum temperature in a regular oven. That means over 250 °C. Then it loses a great deal of crystal water (also getting fragile in process), and gets porous, very lightweight and perfect for casting of aluminium and metals with lower melting points.

I'm only using half plaster of paris, mixed with sand for the foundry. Is this really gonna be that much of a problem? if so, can you point me to a good firebrick recipe?

also, it's not like I was gonna get sniff happy around the smelter. :P

Edited by Endersmens

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Gypsum will break down, making the lining brittle and corroding everything the gas touches. Sulfur(VI) oxide turns into sulfuric acid in contact with water vapor in air so you get sulfuric acid fog. As you probably understand, that's not a nice thing.

Bentonite, fireclay, perlite, sand, slaked lime, cement. Easy on the sand because of its lower melting point and easy with cement because you want it to bind, not dominate, as it cracks at high temperature.

You want silicates and oxides.

In essence, the simplest thing you could do it just use fireclay and water glass as a superb binder, unless you mind the bright yellow coloration it will give to the flame swirling in the foundry. There are water glass preparations which use potassium silicate instead of sodium one, but as sodium is tough to remove and its ionization spectrum is very dominant, it's very hard to get rid of the yellow glow completely.

There are lots of recipes for refractory mixtures out there. Each is special in its own right and suits a purpose.

Be sure to wrap your foundry (I assume it will be refractory-lined steel can with a hole for pushing propane-butane or whatever) in rock/glass wool and cover it with shiny aluminium foil (shiny side outwards, matte side inwards) to minimize heat losses.

You can go "dirty" and push air in a foundry filled with charcoal.

Or coke, if you can find it.

DSC_0504.jpg

Edited by lajoswinkler

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Gypsum will break down, making the lining brittle and corroding everything the gas touches. Sulfur(VI) oxide turns into sulfuric acid in contact with water vapor in air so you get sulfuric acid fog. As you probably understand, that's not a nice thing.

Bentonite, fireclay, perlite, sand, slaked lime, cement. Easy on the sand because of its lower melting point and easy with cement because you want it to bind, not dominate, as it cracks at high temperature.

You want silicates and oxides.

In essence, the simplest thing you could do it just use fireclay and water glass as a superb binder, unless you mind the bright yellow coloration it will give to the flame swirling in the foundry. There are water glass preparations which use potassium silicate instead of sodium one, but as sodium is tough to remove and its ionization spectrum is very dominant, it's very hard to get rid of the yellow glow completely.

There are lots of recipes for refractory mixtures out there. Each is special in its own right and suits a purpose.

Be sure to wrap your foundry (I assume it will be refractory-lined steel can with a hole for pushing propane-butane or whatever) in rock/glass wool and cover it with shiny aluminium foil (shiny side outwards, matte side inwards) to minimize heat losses.

You can go "dirty" and push air in a foundry filled with charcoal.

Or coke, if you can find it.

http://www.rhobbsphotography.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/DSC_0504.jpg

Yes, it will be charcoal with air pushed in through a hole in the side.(if you watch the video I posted you will see)

So I can't use just cement? Gah. this is getting complicated.

As far as lining, the foundry is inside a 6 gallon galvanized steel bucket with a lid fashioned out of whatever I make the foundry base out of. (again, video will show it)

So the foundry "rock" part is inside the bucket, the bucket acts as the housing for the whole thing and the outside lining. There will be a hole, angled down into the chamber for safety, with a /cheap hair dryer attached to the end of a pipe blowing air into the foundry.

- - - Updated - - -

Can I use this stuff? http://www.efireplacestore.com/rut-615.html

At first I was thinking of buying some fire bricks and filling the gaps with this stuff, but could I just make the whole inside lining out of this?

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*Appendum: Enchant Solid Aluminum Kerbal.

:D

Should be fun.

GRAMMAR NA-ZI TIME!

You mean addendum. "Addendum" is the text added to a document after it has been written. "Append" or "To Append" is the action of adding to the end of the document. Also, "Appendix" comes from "Append".

EX:

Original statement:

Jim walked his dog.

New statement:

Jim walked his dog. His dog liked it very much.

I appended "His dog liked it very much" onto "Jim walked his dog". "His dog liked it very much" is addendum to "Jim walked his dog".

Edited by Flymetothemun

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Gloves: check

Coveralls: Probably not

Boots: check

Mask: half-check (half face mask)

My mold will be foam inside of wet sand. the molten aluminum instantly vaporizes the foam and fills the void. Its a cheap reusable mold.

I will have water buckets and hoses for extinguishing. (and guys this is charcoal we're talking about here)

I'm only using half plaster of paris, mixed with sand for the foundry. Is this really gonna be that much of a problem? if so, can you point me to a good firebrick recipe?

also, it's not like I was gonna get sniff happy around the smelter. :P

Trust me water and molten metal don't mix, most times it's fine but there's that random roll that ruins your day and sends you to the burn unit in the hospital.

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Trust me water and molten metal don't mix, most times it's fine but there's that random roll that ruins your day and sends you to the burn unit in the hospital.

I will also have fireplace tongs for handling the molten metal in the crucible. It is 3 feet long, so I won't be that close to the molten stuff.

Well. I couldn't find fire concrete or fire clay anywhere, closest I came to were fire bricks. and Bricks don't work well in a bucket.

Maybe I should just buy a bunch of bricks and make a little cube oven for this. Would that work better? I could make it out of fire bricks and fireplace mortar. and a door on it out of the fire bricks.

It would take a bit of design work, but is this a better plan the the bucket?

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Yes, it will be charcoal with air pushed in through a hole in the side.(if you watch the video I posted you will see)

So I can't use just cement? Gah. this is getting complicated.

As far as lining, the foundry is inside a 6 gallon galvanized steel bucket with a lid fashioned out of whatever I make the foundry base out of. (again, video will show it)

So the foundry "rock" part is inside the bucket, the bucket acts as the housing for the whole thing and the outside lining. There will be a hole, angled down into the chamber for safety, with a /cheap hair dryer attached to the end of a pipe blowing air into the foundry.

- - - Updated - - -

Can I use this stuff? http://www.efireplacestore.com/rut-615.html

At first I was thinking of buying some fire bricks and filling the gaps with this stuff, but could I just make the whole inside lining out of this?

You can use cement only, but it will get ruined pretty fast. Cement experiences surface cracking and flaking. It's also very heat conductive, has lots of heat capacity and isn't very porous. All that means more time and more coal to get things done.

That mix seems ok, but mind that it's not designed to withstand temperatures of the flame you will create.

I will also have fireplace tongs for handling the molten metal in the crucible. It is 3 feet long, so I won't be that close to the molten stuff.

Well. I couldn't find fire concrete or fire clay anywhere, closest I came to were fire bricks. and Bricks don't work well in a bucket.

Maybe I should just buy a bunch of bricks and make a little cube oven for this. Would that work better? I could make it out of fire bricks and fireplace mortar. and a door on it out of the fire bricks.

It would take a bit of design work, but is this a better plan the the bucket?

If you have old, cracked firebricks,

and turn them into powder. Then use the powder as an additive for your mixture. I did that and it came out nicely.

Cubic oven is less efficient because of the turbulent flow, but it would work.

Don't extinguish anything using water. Just put lid on it, cover with aluminium foil and leave it like that. Spilling water in a hot foundry might end up with a more than a squirt of boiling water, and will also crack the lining because of the enormous thermal shock.

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Endersmens, is this for a merit badge? :) Good luck either way!

I think it mainly came from me showing him THIS VIDEO (It was just the concept, not the shown product, that interested us... :wink:) and then him getting the idea to do it with Styrofoam Kerbals and whatnot. :)

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I did this just now. I had the foundry for quite a while and never put it to a real test with coal.

11736983_883163401798946_585666779_n.jpg?oh=6efa838d6ced32326d1d5b65da89b547&oe=55AC3BFF

It successfully melted a copper nail.

My foundry is way too small for any serious metal casting. It's more suitable for high temperature reactions with small amounts of materials in crucibles.

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I did this just now. I had the foundry for quite a while and never put it to a real test with coal.

https://scontent-mxp1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t34.0-12/11736983_883163401798946_585666779_n.jpg?oh=6efa838d6ced32326d1d5b65da89b547&oe=55AC3BFF

It successfully melted a copper nail.

My foundry is way too small for any serious metal casting. It's more suitable for high temperature reactions with small amounts of materials in crucibles.

Lajo, just wondering. Is that real coal or charcoal like you'd use in a grill? It looks to be charcoal by the shape of the bit on the far wall, but then again where I live we get coal direct from the mines unprocessed and unshaped. I've been interested in metalworking and blacksmithing for a few years and I'm reading up all I can about it before I set out to build a forge and find some stock.

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If you want to build a smelter, you would be wise to invest in proper heat resistant materials. Your apparatus will last longer and safety will improve.

As a tip: only use aluminium that has been cast before. Cans, extrusion profiles et cetera will be harder to cast and a lot more contaminated. Get some nice cast scrap. Also, first melt things down into loafs of aluminium to remove contaminants, then use it to cast. It is more work, but should yield better results.

Trust me water and molten metal don't mix, most times it's fine but there's that random roll that ruins your day and sends you to the burn unit in the hospital.

Steam explosions are the biggest danger in casting. You really absolutely positively need to be superduper sure that the stuff you use if dry. Anything even damp can seriously ruin your day and permanently disfigure you. Stuff either blows up in your face, or worse, sinks to the bottom of your crucible before turning to steam. That means you get a face full of steam powered molten aluminium.

Casting is a lot of fun, but safety is the the number one, two and three concern. This is not just a matter of burning your fingers. Temperatures are a lot higher than most other things people do, and results are accordingly devastating. This also means practicing your run without heat before you do it for real, wearing at least leather but preferably something better, *NO* synthetics (unless kevlar or specific fire resistent stuff), having solid leather boots without laces or openings the stuff can run into, no pockets and shoes tucked well inside your pants (things should be able to run down your clothes without encountering ledges or pockets, much like roof tiles on a house), proper face and respiratory protection (which is more because it is scrap than because it is aluminium).

Inform yourself about all necessary safety precautions and adhere to them. Casting is dangerous.

Edit:

Gloves: check

Coveralls: Probably not

Boots: check

Mask: half-check (half face mask)

My mold will be foam inside of wet sand. the molten aluminum instantly vaporizes the foam and fills the void. Its a cheap reusable mold.

I will have water buckets and hoses for extinguishing. (and guys this is charcoal we're talking about here)

For the love of Jeb, all the water bits will hurt you very quickly :sealed: Read up on what you are going to do. NO water in your molds. Foam is fine, it just stinks a lot. NO water to extinguish fires. Even wet sand below your melter can lead to nasty accidents, as crucibles sometimes crack. Some people even say there needs to be a dry layer of sand on top of cement or concrete, as both contain water and the extremely high temperatures force it out. That is mostly true for iron casting (almost thrice the temperature), though also applies to aluminium.

NO WATER. Learn how the materials you are using burn and how to extinguish them safely. Sorry for repeating myself, but it is a cardinal rule if you intend to stay safe.

Maybe I should just buy a bunch of bricks and make a little cube oven for this. Would that work better? I could make it out of fire bricks and fireplace mortar. and a door on it out of the fire bricks.

You want some round-ish setup, so things can swirl around for optimal combustion :)

Edited by Camacha

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also, it's not like I was gonna get sniff happy around the smelter. :P

I'm not going to quote a random statistic here, but just realise how often you breathe in and out of your nose (the nose, of course, providing a pathway that is that much closer to the blood-brain barrier.)

I am not an expert in material sciences, but trusting a YouTube "internet fame" video is a horribly bad idea. Trusting a stranger on a forum is also a horribly bad idea; but the general warnings being pushed at you should be taken over a fool who cares more about views than consumer safety. Do your research, talk to people who have done this before; even how you haven't secured your smelter down concerns me as it doesn't take much to turn that into a hazardous situation.

I understand that the bucket likely feels heavy on its own, but if a solid kick can knock it down, it isn't heavy enough. The ease of you doing something simple like dropping your tongs and while you're reaching down to pick them up you shift your footing and knock the smelter over should be taken into consideration. At the very least, you should surround the thing with cement bricks, (which are easy to sort of "secure" without needing mortar).

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Lajo, just wondering. Is that real coal or charcoal like you'd use in a grill? It looks to be charcoal by the shape of the bit on the far wall, but then again where I live we get coal direct from the mines unprocessed and unshaped. I've been interested in metalworking and blacksmithing for a few years and I'm reading up all I can about it before I set out to build a forge and find some stock.

Ah, yes. It's indeed charcoal, my mistake.

I was shaping a piece of steel today with a hammer. Orange hot large thick nail. Now it's a flat hook. :)

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endersmens you are evil....

Now i want to make one....

Fortunately the materials are easily acquirable from where i live.

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Ok, I'm going to buy firebricks and pound them into powder.

What should I use to bind it? The only sodium silicate I could find wasn't even real sodium silicate, it was TSP, a cleaning chemical.

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