Innovation in Thermal Processing
Anyone who has spent even passing time in the Midwest will have noticed a key difference among the seasons. There’s fall (nothing to do), winter (nothing to do), spring (still nothing to do) and festival season — I mean summer.
While it may be a bit of an exaggeration to suggest there is nothing to do in the seasons other than summer, it’s not much of a stretch. The shoulder seasons have unpredictable temperature swings and weather while winter is likely to bring mounds of snow when you least want them and no snow when you desperately desire it. Many events may be planned, but even more are cancelled. Still, in festival season, all is right in the Brew City area I call home. Perhaps the way the streets pour frothy gold is why a process heating startup story caught my eye.
Induction Food Systems, a Purdue University-affiliated startup, has developed a system using solid-state electronics to generate heat using electromagnetic energy within the very piping used to convey food and beverage products. The startup’s first product to go to market — a fluid heating system intended for use in beer, water products and juice manufacturing — is billed as improving the taste, quality and shelf life of such beverages.
Induction heating is not new technology for industrial processes. Long used for undersea pipe heating in refinery applications and in cap-sealing applications in packaging — as well as myriad roles in high temperature heat treating operations — induction is a proven heat transfer method whereby electrically conductive objects like piping or parts are resistively heated by inducing a voltage through the electrical conductor in a changing magnetic field. It will be interesting to see how this technology is adopted.
Another process heating technology employing electromagnetic energy — infrared heating — is the focus of two articles in this issue of Process Heating. In our cover story, Marty Sawyer of Trimac Industrial Systems notes that infrared heating technology, when well applied, can greatly increase the speed of a process heating application as well as improve product quality and throughput. Sawyer offers an overview of gas-fired and electrically heating infrared technologies for process applications in “Infrared: A Heat Wave.”
Elsewhere in this issue, David Weisman of his eponymous company looks at “Using Infrared Heating Effectively in Industrial Process Heating Applications.” Key functional benefits such as reduced energy and maintenance costs, diminished floor space requirements and improved line speeds are among the key points Weisman explores.
Turning to heat transfer technology in fluid heating and cooling applications, Matt Hale of HRS Heat Exchangers explains how scraped surface exchangers can be used with “Heat Recovery & Zero-Liquid Discharge.” As Hale notes, efficient heat recovery reduces the need for additional energy for heating processes. Design features such as corrugated tubes help optimize product and service flows in ZLD applications, eliminating waste and allowing heat from process water and other existing sources to be used to drive the evaporation process, along with the recapture and reuse (regeneration) of any heat left at the end of the process.
Innovation in process and temperature control is the focus of two articles in this issue. In “Industry 4.0: The Connected Enterprise,” James Owen of Epic Systems Group explains how the system integrator helped an industrial automation system manufacturer put IIoT technologies in place. Also, Benson Hougland of Opto 22 explores how a programmable edge controller was used to upgrade the process and production management functions at a glass manufacturer.