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Classification Based On Chemical Composition

Refractories are typically classified on the basis of their chemical behaviour, i.e. their reaction to the type of slags. Accordingly the refractory materials are of three classes - Acid, Basic &Neutral.
Acid Refractories:
Acid refractories are those which are attacked by alkalis (basic slags). These are used in areas where slag and atmosphere are acidic. Examples of acid refractories are:
1) Silica (SiO2),
2) Zirconia (ZrO2)
Neutral Refractories:
Neutral Refractories are chemically stable to both acids and bases and are used in areas where slag and atmosphere are either acidic or basic. The common examples of these materials are:
1) Carbon graphite (most inert)
2) Chromites (Cr2O3)
3) Alumina
Out of these graphite is the least reactive and is extensively used in metallurgical furnaces where the process of oxidation can be controlled.
Basic Refractories:
Basic refractories are those which are attacked by acid slags but stable to alkaline slags, dusts and fumes at elevated temperatures. Since they do not react with alkaline slags, these refractories are of considerable importance for furnace linings where the environment is alkaline; for example non-ferrous metallurgical operations. The most important basic raw materials are:
1) Magnesia (MgO) - caustic, sintered and fused magnesia
2) Dolomite (CaO*MgO) - sintered and fused dolomite
3) Chromite -main part of chrome ore
Chemical characteristics of the furnace process usually determine the type of refractory required. Theoretically, acid refractories should not be used in contact with basic slags, gases and fumes whereas basic refractories can be best used in alkaline environment. Actually, for various reasons, these rules are often violated. 
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