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Heraeus Noblelight has installed a gas catalytic infrared oven at its applications centre in Neston, Wirral. It is intended to complement the range of electric infrared systems at Neston so that customers, and potential customers, will have the opportunity to trial their products using various infrared technologies in order to achieve the optimum process to meet their heating, curing or finishing requirements.

The new oven is particularly suitable for powder coating, and the Neston installation also includes a powder-coating station and an overhead conveyor to simulate real process situations. Other applications include food drying, thermo-forming, textile drying, leather curing and curing coatings on heat-sensitive substrates such as MDF.

The gelling of powder coatings has traditionally been carried out by convection ovens, which are energy inefficient and require a large amount of floor space. They can also be expensive to run and, because of their long start-up time, they cannot be quickly shut down when there are breaks in production. In addition, they produce noxious gases and are not particularly suited to heating parts with sensitive substrates. Gas catalytic heating does not suffer from these drawbacks and is claimed to offer a short return on investment. They are also controllable and can be used for smaller batch sizes.

Key features and benefits

  • Gas catalytic ovens are available in various sizes and can operate on natural gas or propane.
  • They are flameless, as they rely on initially heating a platinum catalyst ceramic composite heater panel.
  • Once the catalyst has reached a given temperature, the gas is switched on and flows evenly into the back of the panel, where it intermingles with the hot platinum catalyst. This initiates a chemical reaction, which produces carbon dioxide, water vapour and infrared radiation in the long to low-medium wave band of the spectrum.
  • Once the catalytic reaction is established, approximately five minutes after the gas is turned on, the electrical pre-heat is switched off and the reaction is maintained, without flame, until the gas is shut off, without any deterioration of the platinum catalyst.
  • The surface temperature of the heater depends upon the gas flow and this is controlled by a precise gas pulse system (GPS).
  • The gas catalytic oven at Heraeus’s Applications Centre is 6.3m long, 2m high and 2.3m wide and the associated parts conveyor has a line speed of 3.6m/min; however, ovens can be built to suit customer requirements and heating panels can be arranged in PLC-controlled zones for precise process control.

Heraeus Noblelight

Heraeus specialises in the production and application of high quality energy sources covering the electro-magnetic spectrum from ultraviolet to infra-red. It has over 40 years experience in infra-red technology and offers the expertise, products and systems to provide efficient and effective solutions to drying, heating and curing problems throughout industry.

Heraeus Noblelight GmbH with its headquarters in Hanau and with subsidiaries in the USA, Great Britain, France and China is one of the technology- and market-leaders in the production of specialty light sources and systems. In 2016, Heraeus Noblelight employed 707 people worldwide. The organization develops, manufactures and markets infrared and ultraviolet emitters, systems and solutions for applications in industrial manufacture, environmental protection, medicine and cosmetics, research, development and analytical measurement techniques.

In the 2016 financial year, Heraeus generated revenues without precious metals of €2.0 bn and a total revenue of €21.5 bn. With approximately 12,400 employees worldwide in more than 100 subsidiaries in 38 countries, Heraeus holds a leading position in its global markets.

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