Thermal Process Devices

The EU's climate protection goals and the increasing cost of energy require more sustainable thermal treatment processes as well as new or modified industrial furnaces. Fraunhofer Center HTL offers its expertise in this area and, upon request, carries out the planning and design of energy-efficient thermal process devices for customers. This includes all phases of project realization, from concept creation to environmental and safety planning, material and energy flow analyses, basic and detailed engineering, layout plans, visualization, specification sheets, and tender evaluations. The HTL can also support device and process monitoring and the integration of furnaces into production processes through software selection, interface programming, and sensor technology. Smaller custom devices can be built by the HTL (see device engineering). Two key success factors in realizing sustainable thermal processes are thermal management and device control. The HTL has special expertise in both of these areas.

Thermal Management

At the HTL, the generation of heat through burners or electric heaters and its transfer through convection, radiation, and heat conduction are simulated in advance. The optimal time-dependent heat input for the heating material is determined through in-situ measurements in laboratory furnaces and specialized computer simulations (see process optimization). The HTL selects the necessary furnace materials and kiln furniture based on cost and efficiency aspects using systematic methods (see material selection). Based on the material data, a digital furnace twin is created that takes into account the interaction between the heating material and the furnace. In this way, process parameters and furnace design are mutually optimized. On the one hand, energy efficiency is optimized, while on the other hand, scrap rates can be minimized. Concepts for heat recovery are developed based on energy flow analysis.

Device Control

The digital twin of the furnace developed at the HTL can also be used to initially develop and test control concepts virtually. The measured variables from various sensors are used together to control the heaters and other control variables for furnace operation. The interaction is simulated on the computer, using AI algorithms as well. The control concepts can be designed for fluctuating energy availability and flexible throughput. For real furnace operation, sensors for measuring temperatures and gas composition are proposed. If necessary, additional sensors developed at the HTL for measuring heat radiation and gas flow are also available. In addition, the performance of the furnaces can be analyzed on site (see industrial furnace analysis). The software for furnace control is developed to be compatible with various industry-standard protocols (OPC-UA, EtherCAT, Modbus, etc.). In consultation with the customer, individual, customized solutions are developed. All necessary settings are made available to appropriately trained personnel at different user levels. Thus, adjustments and optimizations of the processes by the customer are possible at any time. For process optimization by the furnace operator, the HTL also offers material-specific apps.

Service Offering:

  • Support in the project planning of thermal process systems
  • Energy and material flow analyses of existing and newly designed systems
  • Design of system components
  • Analysis and simulation of existing system components
  • Optimization of thermal process systems in terms of efficiency and product quality
  • Safety assessment and documentation of CE conformity according to the EN ISO 12100 standard and harmonized norms for new and existing systems
  • Declaration of conformity according to DIN ISO 1750-1 for products, processes, and systems
  • Integration into existing SCADA or process control systems using common communication protocols and interfaces (OPC-UA, Modbus, EtherCAT, etc.)
  • Data acquisition, monitoring, and logging possible even without a supervisory system (stand-alone)

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Topology Optimization

Modern methods of topology optimization make it possible to develop ceramic and metallic components with minimal mass and heat capacity for specific applications.

Process Optimization

Sustainable thermal processes are a focus of research and development activities at Fraunhofer Center HTL.

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