Spotlight: Heating up

Materials World magazine
1 Jul 2014

Developments in the heat treatment sector can improve performance across a variety of applications and industries, and British firms are leading the way.

Oxford Instruments has developed a new cryofree platform for quantum computing applications with lower temperatures and higher cooling power. The TritonXL accommodates two pulse tube coolers, 70 high-frequency lines and superconducting magnets up to 18 Tesla. Samples as large as 430mm in diameter can be cooled to ≤4mK in less than 36 hours.

A new furnace has been designed by Carbolite to determine, in accordance with ISO 12981-1, the reactivity of calcined petroleum coke to CO2. A vertical single zone tube furnace heats to 1,000°C, and maintains this temperature to ±1°C, continuously monitored by a thermocouple. A CO2 gas control system adjusts the supply pressure and gas flow rate using a digital mass flow controller, maintaining CO2 gas flow at 50l/h. The carbon monoxide formed by the reaction between the gas and petroleum coke creates a weight loss of the sample, which is used to determine the quality of the coke.

Babcock Wanson’s new TPC1000B thermal fluid heater offers energy savings, as well as lower exhaust emissions. The system includes a fully automated coil type, an integrated burner, a control system and safety devices. A high level of safety is ensured by continuous flow monitoring and high fluid velocity in the exchange tubes. In addition, the system precisely matches fuel input to requirements, to increase efficiency.

Meanwhile, Keighley Laboratories, UK, is building a new heat treatment facility that will be equipped with a nitriding furnace and a sealed quench gaseous nitrocarbonising unit. A thermal insulation envelope will ensure energy efficiency.

Outside the UK, a new synthetic thermal fluid by American firm Global Heat Transfer has been designed for use in concentrated solar applications, PET and plastics production. The fluid, called Globaltherm Omnitech, is formulated for systems that require very precise temperature control, and can operate both as a liquid and vapour heat transfer fluid. Its eutectic mix of diphenyl oxide and biphenyl gives it an operating range of 12–400°C.

With such a wide range of advances across the market, it is not surprising that heat treatment continues to drive performance.