So now it is apparent that although, unlike other items, Refractory is not a very familiar term for a common man, but still through all the above we are being constantly benefitted by the use and applications of Refractories in our daily life.
For all high temperature operations whether metallurgical or non-metallurgical, a refractory lining is necessarily required for their containment and retention of heat etc. The making & shaping of alloys into useful machinery, equipment, tools and other similar items, including those of metal and glass containers are not exceptions too as all of them require refractories in their processing. Such industries are classified as ‘Primary’ users of refractories. Every other industry that makes use of these basic materials or machinery or products is dependent on refractory products in a ‘Secondary’ manner. Such industries include Agriculture, Textiles, Pulp & Paper, Housing & Construction, Information processing & Media etc.
Right from the domestic Bhatti or Chulha (cooking ovens) to giant Blast Furnaces, from a tiny nose of a modern Space Shuttle to various components of Atomic Reactors or Electronic equipment, consist of parts made out of refractories.
No metal and non-metal industries such as – Iron, Steel, Aluminium, Copper, Alloys, Foundries and Castings, Cement, Glass, Petrochemicals etc. wherever high temperature operation is an essential part can do away without the use of refractories. Other house-hold products like - dinnerware, electrical, electronic, optical, drugs & chemicals etc likewise employ refractories directly in their manufacture.
Because of their characteristic properties to retain their shapes at very high temperature even under all hostile conditions like high pressure, load, erosion and corrosion, acid attack etc. all at a very high temperature (more than 1500OC), the refractories are indispensable in the construction of any furnace.
Refractories belong to one of the technological divisions of Traditional Ceramics. However, in practical terms now it has transcended all its traditional boundaries since the new generation Refractory Products are totally unconventional and sophisticated in nature. In sharp contrast to the earlier conventional type refractories, the new generation refractories are made of synthetic raw materials under much controlled conditions. Refractory is the fundamental pre-requisite for any high temperature operation. Their main purpose is either to confine or to transfer heat. Refractories may not find its direct use in the processes of any particular industry or even in the provision of its raw materials, but they are certainly involved in the manufacturing process of the equipment which that industry uses and in providing the buildings and the structures that house it. In a nutshell, we depend on Refractories directly or indirectly for virtually everything we buy, use, eat, wear or enjoy, as well as in our daily work.