Refractory minerals are used to improve the performance of refractories products by imparting properties such as strength, protection from chemical and physical attack, and slag resistance. Refractories products can be broadly divided into basic, neutral and acidic groups, which relate to the type of refractory environment the product has been designed for (e.g., basic oxygen steelmaking) and hence the minerals used in its manufacture. Minerals commonly used for refractories include (but are not limited to) alumina, bauxite, graphite, kaolin, magnesia and zirconium.
Acidic refractories consist of mostly acidic materials like alumina (Al2O3) and silica (SiO2). They are generally not attacked or affected by acidic materials, but easily affected by basic materials. They include substances such as silica, alumina, and fire clay brick refractories. Notable reagents that can attack both alumina and silica are hydrofluoric acid, phosphoric acid, and fluorinated gases (e.g. HF, F2). At high temperatures, acidic refractories may also react with limes and basic oxides
These are used in areas where slags and atmosphere are either acidic or basic and are chemically stable to both acids and bases. The main raw materials belong to, but are not confined to, the R2O3 group. Common examples of these materials are alumina (Al2O3), chromia (Cr2O3) and carbon.
These are used in areas where slags and atmosphere are basic. They are stable to alkaline materials but can react to acids. The main raw materials belong to the RO group, of which magnesia (MgO) is a common example. Other examples include dolomite and chrome-magnesia. For the first half of the twentieth century, the steel making process used artificial periclase (roasted magnesite) as a furnace lining material