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High Temperature Furnaces

High Temperature Furnaces

Date posted: August 22, 2016 // Glass Melting Plansee

Since primitive man struck the first spark that made the regular use of fire possible, the human race has continued to find new ways in which to make use of the heat that it provides. At first, its prime purposes may have been simply to provide warmth in winter and a respite from the darkness and unseen dangers of the night. However, with the discovery of copper and bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, and later, of iron, the role of fire gained even greater importance with the invention of smelting – a process that was destined to have a profound influence upon future civilisations.

Even before this, lead and tin are known to have been smelted. Their relatively low melting points did not call for the high furnace temperatures that are possible today, so smelting was achieved simply by placing the ore in the heart of a wood fire. In the case of copper, however, it seems likely that a more primitive form of pottery kiln was employed, as the heat from a typical campfire falls around 200oC short of its melting point.

Since those earliest attempts at mastering metallurgy, however, a plethora of new metals have been discovered and, in turn, their discovery has provided the basis for a wide range of modern-day applications. Also, the many advances in glass technology have resulted in a markedly increased demand for this versatile material. In the case of both glass and many of the metals that are in widespread use today, producing sufficient heat to melt them is only possible with the aid of sophisticated high temperature furnaces.

In order to generate the additional heat required, various refinements to the original kiln structure have proved necessary and these include the use of combustible fuels under pressure, together with a pressurised air supply to further improve the efficiency of combustion. Since the required melting points are often in the region of 1800oC to 2000oC, and given the need for a high degree of purity, many of the important components used in these powerful ovens must be manufactured from metals with melting points that are even higher. Known as refractory metals, they include tungsten, molybdenum and tantalum, and offer several benefits, including the creation of a carbon-free environment with ultra-high vacuum capabilities and a higher cooling rate than other high temperature systems.

Supplying heat-resistant components, such as those used in hot zones, isostatic presses and glass smelting furnaces, to industries in South Africa, LIT Africa has lengthy experience and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements for all manners of smelting operations. We offer high-quality products that have been manufactured by Plansee – a world leader in their field.