Research Project Summary Information
Microwave Testing Enhancements for Scale-up and Ultra-High Temperature Applications(ST8258)
With New York State Energy Research & Development Authority's (NYSERDA) help, Ceralink, Inc., has established a Microwave Testing Center (MTC) to assist ceramics manufacturers evaluate and develop microwave processes. As part of this effort, more than a dozen companies have been helped, and Ceralink has received several patents. Ceralink has acquired exclusive North American rights to Microwave Assist Technology (MAT) in which microwaves are used to augment electric or gas-fired systems. This technology could have a much broader applicability to a number of industries, since it can be used either in new furnaces and kilns, or through retrofit of existing furnaces and kilns.
The overall objective was to expand the activities of the MTC to further develop and commercialize MAT. As part of this effort, this project upgraded microwave-testing equipment to sinter high temperature ceramics at ultra-high temperature. Three kW of microwave power needed to be added to Ceralink’s Autowave. Installing a new generator required the control program (LabView) to be modified. This allows feedback from other sensors (temperature, oxygen, and pressure, and microwave power) to be incorporated into one control program and one recorded file. The microwave power input can be controlled using temperature feedback. After the upgrade was made, proving the new capabilities, ultra-high temperature testing and scale-up demonstrations were performed.
Ceralink successfully completed the upgrades to the Autowave for ultra high temperature and larger load processing, including: increasing the microwave power from 3 kW to 6 kW, installing oxygen and humidity sensors, improving the level of vacuum in the system, and developing a new LabVIEW control program. A Ceralink engineer was trained in LabVIEW programming and received hands-on experience with integrating hardware with LabVIEW, providing skills that will be useful in future Ceralink efforts. The new equipment capabilities and skills developed in this program helped position Ceralink to obtain and perform its first two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grants. These capabilities also position Ceralink to expand business.
Reduce processing time: processing to 1600°C takes 20 minutes in Autowave and two hours in conventional kiln. State manufacturers reduce electricity consumption by using natural gas firing instead of electric element furnaces. Increase of revenue by $500,000, within two years.
Ceralink was awarded SBIR grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Ultrahigh Temperature Microwave Processing of Ceramics and Automated Hybrid Microwave Heating for Lunar Surface Solidification. The approach seeks to develop a process to “pave” a landing pad on the moon by using microwaves to heat and solidify surface dust. Ceralink’s #8258-Mod 2 project enabled the microwave-processing studies that facilitated these proposals, and #8258-Mod 3 further enhanced Ceralink’s technical capability to address the goals of the projects, specifically for the ultra-high temperature processing in the NSF and the larger loads required for the NASA work.
Ceralink now provides microwave testing and scale-up services to ceramics manufacturers interested in reducing processing costs and energy intensity. Because its customers are in pre-commercial stages, Ceralink anticipates energy impact in the future, as manufacturers begin to implement microwave processing and significant electricity savings are generated.
105 Jordan Rd
Troy, NY 12180
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R&D - Mfg Tech & On-Site Pwr