Moulding sands containing sodium silicate (water-glass) belong to the group of porous mixture with low resistance to increased humidity. Thanks to hydrophilic properties of hardened or even overheated binder, possible is application of effective methods of hydrous reclamation consisting in its secondary hydration. For the same reason (hydrophilia of the binder), moulds and foundry cores made of high-silica moulding sands with sodium silicate are susceptible to the action of components of atmospheric air, including the contained steam. This paper presents results of a research on the effect of (relative) humidity on mechanical and technological properties of microwave-hardened moulding mixtures. Specimens of the moulding sand containing 1.5 wt% of sodium water-glass with module 2.5 were subjected, in a laboratory climatic chamber, to long-term action of steam contained in the chamber atmosphere. Concentration of water in atmospheric air was stabilized for 28 days (672 h) according to the relative humidity parameter that was ca. 40%, 60% and 80% at constant temperature 20 °C. In three cycles of the examinations, the specimens were taken out from the chamber every 7 days (168 h) and their mechanical and technological parameters were determined. It was found on the grounds of laboratory measurements that moulds and cores hardened with microwaves are susceptible to action of atmospheric air and presence of water (as steam) intensifies action of the air components on glassy film of sodium silicate. Microwave-hardened moulding sands containing sodium silicate may be stored on a longterm basis in strictly determined atmospheric conditions only, at reduced humidity. In spite of a negative effect of steam contained in the air, the examined moulding mixtures maintain a part of their mechanical and technological properties, so the moulds and foundry cores stored in specified, controlled conditions could be still used in manufacture.
In the paper, presented is a research on effectiveness of absorbing electromagnetic waves at frequency 2.45 GHz by unhardened moulding sands prepared of three kinds of high-silica base and a selected grade of sodium silicate. Measurements of power loss of microwave radiation (Pin) expressed by a total of absorbed power (Pabs), output power (Pout) and reflected power (Pref) were carried-out on a stand of semiautomatic microwave slot line. Values of microwave power loss in the rectangular waveguide filled with unhardened moulding sands served for determining effectiveness of microwave heating. Balance of microwave power loss is of technological and economical importance for manufacture of high-quality casting moulds and cores of various shapes and sizes. It was found that relative density influences parameters of power output and power reflected from samples of moulding sand placed in a waveguide. Absorption expressed by the parameter Pabs is not related to granularity of high-silica base: fine, medium and coarse. It was found that the semiautomatic microwave slot line supports evaluation of effectiveness of microwave absorption on the grounds of power loss measurements and enables statistic description of influence of relative density of the sandmix on penetration of electromagnetic waves in unhardened moulding sands.