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Metal melting and holding, progress to NET ZERO

With the UK government’s commitment to electrical energy becoming fully decarbonised by 2035, there is now a clear direction for industry to follow. In our sector there are significant advantages to the latest electrical solutions, says leading induction melting specialist Inductotherm Europe Ltd.

Although electrical induction has been a valid and progressive technology for decades, in the past there were several limitations:

  • Inverter technology was limited to smaller power components.
  • Historical induction melting was based on heel melting.
  • Main’s frequency furnaces were typically relatively low power to weight ratios.
  • Extensive furnace accessories were not available.
  • Power factor correction was manually controlled.
  • In many cases gas would historically be used in low temperature applications such as aluminium due to low energy and equipment costs.

Over the years these limitations have been considered and the technology has been developed to the extent that induction is now a flexible solution to enable foundries to maximise their melting efficiency for many years. Induction is now the first choice as a fast and efficient method of melting with induction melting furnaces being able to hold charges in a wide range of volumes.

The latest induction melting advantages

Working with skilled engineers and a vast customer base, consisting of those requiring smaller metal melting furnaces to medium and large-scale melting systems in countries in all parts of the world, Inductotherm has become renowned for driving the technology forward. The one thing that all customers have in common is the desire to continually improve melting capabilities and efficiencies in what is the most energy intensive part of the casting process. With this in mind, the company says that further proof of the technology’s importance to help meet stringent environmental goals is clear from the number of advantages of induction melting in the 21st Century:

  • MF induction batch melting gives significantly improved efficiency, flexibility and minimises the need for holding.
  • High power to weight ratios for maximum efficiency.
  • Larger solid state power components have improved efficiency by minimising losses and increasing reliability.
  • High power factors at all working levels.
  • Multi output options maximise flexibility and utilisation (also giving further no-load benefits).
  • High efficiency options are available on larger units to further minimise losses.
  • Layouts and power transmission options are crucial to minimise losses.
  • Latest data collection technology helps foundries to analyse their processes to become more efficient.

Inductotherm Europe Ltd managing director Jon Stear says it is important to work with customers to advise on how to get the most out of their equipment needs. “It’s about melting faster and pouring the metal to meet your specific needs. It is also now possible to turn off the equipment if the process allows to maximise overall efficiency. Our customers are loyal because they are using proven technology and we work with them to ensure they get the best out of our equipment, developing longstanding relationships.”

Additional efficiency gains (heat recovery)

Once the most efficient induction solution for the application has been established, several additional efficiency gains can also be achieved. Other gains will be dependent on the application, equipment, and the foundry’s operating processes. One significant example that has been utilised by customers is heat recovery. A significant amount of kW can be recovered from the furnace water cooling circuit; typically, at temperatures up to 65°C. When heat recovery is being utilised the system cooler may be on a very low duty or in some cases off. Arguably the kW recovered can be deducted from the overall kWh/t for the melting operation. The recovered energy can support and reduce costs in other areas such as heating.

Induction heating solutions for partial fuel switching

There are many applications in the industrial sector that can also benefit from induction heating technology. Induction heating can either replace other, soon to be obsolete, technologies or in some cases complete some of the existing process to reduce the need for other fuels.

One example of this would be slab heating and reheating by being designed to reduce fuel consumption by taking over the slab heating process at the point in the thermal curve where gas-fired furnaces rapidly lose efficiency. Inductotherm high-power density heating systems require just ten per cent of the floor space of equivalent gas-fired furnaces.

Other benefits include:

  • Homogeneous heating of even the largest of slab.
  • Rapid heating to reduce scale formation and oxidation losses.
  • Most efficient and cost-effective technology.

In summary, induction heating technology is an important contributor to industry’s ability to meet the carbon neutral status our governments have committed to, and it is a way in which industry can achieve an efficient and effective solution to metal melting requirements, ultimately saving time and money whilst securing a more sustainable future.

Contact: Jon Stear, Inductotherm Europe Ltd, Tel: +44 (0) 1905 795100, email: [email protected] web: www.inductotherm.co.uk