We value industry engagement and understand the strategic challenges faced and the opportunity for innovation to unlock and deliver competitive advantage. Understanding the value proposition for microwave and radio frequency technologies within a process is key to delivering this.
Our partnerships with industry sponsors are always based on mutual understanding and genuine shared interest, with a focus on the highest quality delivery to commercial timescales. Our work is underpinned by robust scale-up methodologies which are required to take a heating process from initial project idea through the technologies readiness levels (TRLs) to full scale demonstration.
Technical Feasibility Study
The first step is to determine whether the use of electromagnetic heating is technically feasible. Microwaves or radio frequency heating must offer a process advantage that cannot be achieved with existing technologies. These advantages are typically arise from the ability of electromagnetic energy to interact selectively and/or volumetrically with materials. Research at this stage generally comprises initial proof of concept electromagnetic heating trials and characterisation studies to show that the broad process objectives are achievable. An initial economic evaluation of the process may also be possible at this stage.
Small Scale Design and Testing
The second step to developing a materials processing technology that utilises electromagnetic heating involves robust characterisation of the fundamental microscale interactions between microwave/RF energy and the material. This is achieved using our unique measurement facilities that characterise material behaviour across a wide range of frequencies, temperatures and pressures. The results of this characterisation are used to select appropriate laboratory test equipment from our extensive experimental test systems. Laboratory scale testing results are used re-evaluate the techno-economic feasibility of the application.
Pilot Scale Process Development
Dielectric characterisation results underpin the development of concepts for pilot and industrial scale systems. System concepts are optimised not only to the properties of the material but also to commercial design basis requirements such as materials handling, footprint & height, scale & throughput, microwave power and energy requirements, service & operability and health & safety/electromagnetic compatibility compliance. Process concepts are developed and trialled at scales appropriate for each application, to allow robust techno-economic feasibility re-evaluations to be carried out. Extended operations allow the robustness and operability of the process concepts to be evaluated, and assessments of the applicability of the process to a wider range of materials.