Spotlight – Fired up: thermal efficiency

Materials World magazine
1 Feb 2015

Natalie Daniels looks at how companies are improving thermal efficiency  

Many firms are now investing in new technologies and equipment for heat treatment applications. One UK company improving thermal processing is Babcock Wanson, with the TPC 400B thermal fluid heater. The technology has concentric coils, a flame reversal combustion chamber, three gas passes and an integrated combustion air pre-heater. It processes at temperatures in the range of 50–400°C at atmospheric pressure and can produce up to 900kW of energy in a single process. Its applications include reactor heating, press heating and cooling, as well as drying and forming. The technology may be remotely operated or controlled by a computer. 

Another UK firm extending its heat range is Carbolite, with the E-range compact tube furnace for application in laboratories. The furnaces are available with heated lengths of 150, 300, 450 and 600mm with a maximum tube diameter of 60mm and operating temperatures reaching 1,200°C. The TST and EVT split furnaces are halved along both lengths and accommodate tube samples that are fixed into a test rig. The furnace has a 301 digital PID controller with a single ramp to set point, digital display and a process timer. The wires in the vacuum provide insulation to ensure fast heat-up and short cooling times.

Furnace rollers are also improving in Sweden. Sandvik Heating Technology has produced the Kanthal APMT, an iron-chromium-aluminium alloy furnace. The machine is designed to transport products that are annealed in air atmosphere and withstands temperatures up to 1,250°C, to ensure metals are kept straight and rigid. The rollers are available in sizes from 26–260mm and have a production rate of one tonne per hour.

Meanwhile, USA-based Oven Industries designed the Thermocouple Controller 5R7-388, a bi-directional electronic temperature controller for thermoelectric modules or resistive heaters for heating and cooling. The technology is controlled via a PC RS232 communication software to operate a range of configurations. The system has a power control of 680W and temperature ranges between -200°C and 260°C. There is an additional digital display and a 5V DC alarm output. The model also comes as a standalone device.