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Projektinfo – Detailed information on energy research

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Fig. 1: A generator shaft for a power plant leaves the reheating furnace of a hammer forge.
© BFI
Industrial production processes optimised
Projektinfo 15/2009
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Efficient heating

Several industrial products have to go through fire during production. In the metalworking industry, in the production of glass, ceramics and building materials as well as in parts of the food industry, heating processes are key production steps. About 65% of the industry’s final energy requirement is expended on it. In Germany, industry furnaces are chiefly produced by small and medium-sized companies and close to every second furnace is exported.

Successfully introducing new and energy-efficient heating processes to operating practices is not all that easy. An innovative process is expected not only to reduce the energy requirement and the costs, but also to lead to an optimisation of product quality, production processes and furnace throughput as well as to flexibility vis-à-vis customer wishes and changed technical parameters. In the metalworking industry for instance, material characteristics of high-grade products in particular depend on e.g. precise heating, cooling and hardening processes, an exactly defined furnace atmosphere and equal heating of the entire material used. Today, an increase in efficiency is less likely to come from improved individual processes, which previous innovations have already perfected to the limit of what is physically possible, but rather from an optimisation of entire process chains, the linking of processes and a holistic approach to optimising the established production processes. At the centre of this development are e.g. more and more powerful simulation tools as well as model and rule-based furnace operation.

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Each new plant offers the possibility of reducing the future energy consumption in the industry and improving the competitiveness. Many medium-sized furnace manufacturers and operators need support in order to stay up to date with current expertise and develop and introduce innovative processes. The research projects sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology aim not only at developing more efficient processes but also supporting information exchange within and across the industries.

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