Research Project Summary Information
Demonstration of radio frequency technology for energy efficient lamination(15732)
Current commercial technologies used for lamination are autoclaving and vacuum lamination. Both methods are time- and energy-intensive (vacuum processes use considerable amounts of electrical energy), have high capital equipment costs, and are run in a batch process. Ceralink, Inc., invented a new ultra-fast, energy-saving process for lamination of glass and composites, using a radio frequency (RF) press. Ceralink obtained support from the US Department of Energy to demonstrate the feasibility, perform market research, and patent this technology. Ceralink has branded this new method as FastFuseTM, and is currently seeking to commercialize the technology.
Ceralink developed and commercially tested FastFuse, which uses radio frequency (RF) to selectively heat the bonding interlayer material in a laminate structure, while simultaneously applying uniaxial pressure, using an RF press. Heat energy is generated within bonding layers directly, without reliance on thermal conduction through insulating glass layers. The project compared and analyzed FastFuse laminate properties and energy requirements to those produced by standard autoclave methods.
The project demonstrated that, as compared to autoclaving, RF laminate curing uses 90% less energy, cycle times are in minutes instead of hours, there are fewer processing steps, and capital costs are lower. Faster cycle times allow for greater quality control than with the standard autoclve batch process. The markets that can benefit from this technology include automotive glass, photovoltaics, and transparent armor. Potential energy savings for 100% conversion to RF curing for these markets is estimated at 73 TBtu by 2020.
For perspective, for a windshield manufacturer, the value proposition for investing in RF lamination versus autoclave processing includes a 40% lower capital cost ($600,000 saved), 90% lower energy costs ($1.05 million saved annually), and 12% higher throughput capability.
Technical achievements of the project include demonstration of RF lamination on products as large as 2-foot by 3-foot panels, armor panels up to 3-inch thick, flexible solar panels, and the first demonstration of curved lamination using custom RF press platens. Ceralink established an RF lamination testing facility in Troy, NY, to further develop the FastFuse process, perform demonstrations and provide implementation support. Demonstrations were performed for manufacturers of flexible photovoltaics, transparent armor, mirrors, acrylic and polycarbonate products, decorative/consumer glass products, and automotive glass. The project enabled the leveraging of $297,000 in US Department of Energy funding.
Three technical papers were authored and seven presentations were made on FastFuse. A website, www.fastfuse.net, was established to promote the technology. This NYSERDA project enabled a transition of RF lamination technology from early feasibility to commercial readiness. Ceralink is making FastFuse available to industry through partnership with RF Press manufacturer Thermex-Thermatron. Ceralink has applied for a patent on FastFuse, which would enable licensing to press manufacturers or end-users.
105 Jordan Rd
Troy, NY 12180
NYSERDA Contact Information
R&D - Mfg Tech & On-Site Pwr