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Melbourne based company, Furnace Engineering received a Highly Commended Award at the illustrious Victoria Engineering Excellence Awards for their development of high tech furnaces for Deakin’s carbon fibre pilot line at the Carbon Nexus facility.

In developing the furnaces the objective was to achieve:

  • Very good atmosphere sealing in an open-ended slot-furnace design.
  • The ability to confirm the furnace is airtight prior to production.
  • The ability to drastically reduce atmosphere purge time and gas consumption.
  • Effective cooling of the emerging fibre while under inert atmosphere.
  • Significantly reduced losses, electrical energy and Nitrogen consumption resulting in significant production cost savings.

Novel features were incorporated in the furnaces in order to achieve these objectives. Losses were reduced by good thermal insulation and a reduction in the water cooling of power connections and the furnace casing. A new atmosphere curtain design was implemented to keep air out and fumes in the chamber, a critical design requirement for an open-ended slot furnace suitable for carbon fibre processing. The High Temperature chamber is equipped with removable end-caps enabling the entire furnace to be quantitatively vacuum-checked for leaks. An active cooling method allows rapid waterless cooling to ambient under inert atmosphere. Emerging fibres are cool enough to handle without gloves.

These features have enabled the furnaces to make good quality fibre with remarkably low power and nitrogen consumption.

“This is great recognition for the challenging and innovative work that Furnace Engineering has done and reinforces the value of our equipment to engineering development in Australia,” said Ian Kett, Program Director of the Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre at Deakin.

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Carbon Nexus is a purpose-built research facility designed to accommodate the diverse needs of international manufacturing organisations that require the cost-effective resolution of carbon fibre-related projects.

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