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Saving energy at high temperatures – infrared radiation and quartz glass make it possible

technology report online, January 2017

Medications, tablets and pills are often packaged in small glass bottles or ampoules. However, manufacturing these complex containers is both time-consuming and energy-intensive, as thermal stresses in the glass must be reduced by means of a controlled heating process. In comparison to conventional ovens, the IR method affords significant savings of space, time and energy.

The glass containers are hot-formed, which creates thermal stress that must be relieved by tempering. In this process, the glass is heated to 600°C and then slowly cooled. This is often done with conventional ovens, which take several hours to heat up and cool down, resulting in high energy costs. The new MAX oven , which uses infrared radiation and quartz glass nano reflectors, heats up and cools down five times faster than conventional ovens, increasing energy efficiency by more than 90 percent.

“MAX infrared ovens allow for significant energy savings in comparison to conventional ovens”

Three questions for Jürgen Weber, head of Innovation Infrared at Heraeus Noblelight.

Jürgen Weber, development manager for infrared at Heraeus Noblelight, explains the customer benefits of the new MAX infrared oven.

Which industrial sectors can benefit from the MAX oven?

Any sectors where high temperatures, and therefore a great deal of energy, are needed. Energy savings are a central issue in energy-intensive applications. Examples include the surface finishing of high-quality contact plates for sensors in the automotive industry and the tin-plating of copper materials in the reflow process, where galvanic tinning is followed by a heat treatment to melt the coating again. Energy-intensive ovens are also used in the glass industry to relieve thermal stresses in glass ampoules by tempering at high temperatures. MAX infrared ovens from Heraeus allow for significant energy savings in comparison to conventional ovens.

What makes the MAX oven different from conventional methods?

The MAX oven combines infrared radiation with optimal reflection and convection within the oven. Using infrared radiation along with special quartz glass components greatly increases the oven’s efficiency. Quartz glass has excellent optical properties, and its high purity makes it ideal for sensitive products. In addition, it is extremely heat-resistant and allows for very rapid heating and cooling. Its high mechanical stability and easy workability make it possible to completely coat the interior of the MAX oven with quartz glass.

Where does the special quartz glass in the MAX oven come from, and what are its advantages?

Several years ago, Heraeus Noblelight and Heraeus Quarzglas developed the QRC (quartz reflective coating) material, which won the Heraeus Innovation Prize in 2008. It consists of an opaque, white quartz glass with millions of scattering centers in the micro- and nano-range that reflect the infrared radiation very effectively. The reflection is diffuse, which results in very homogeneous heating. High-temperature processes are therefore significantly more stable, because process parameters such as temperature and exposure time are better maintained. This reduces costs and considerably improves the energy efficiency of a plant.

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