Kanthal are specialists in materials and systems for high temperatures at Sandvik. Together with the High Temperature Corrosion Centre HTC, they develop new, more sustainable materials and alloys.
“We’re constantly striving to be the world leader in the field of high temperatures, and our collaboration with HTC plays an important part in our ability to continue driving developments,” says Dilip Chandrasekaran, Head of R&D and Technology at Kanthal.
A world leader with high quality products
The multi-billion-dollar Sandvik group develops materials for applications such as combined heat and power plants, furnaces and fuel cells. Kanthal develops products that generate and protect against heat and which have long been used in everything from major industrial furnaces and boilers to everyday household appliances such as ovens and toasters.
“By understanding fundamental issues within high-temperature corrosion and developing better materials, we help solve our customers’ problems and maintain our world leading position,” says Dilip Chandrasekaran.
To be the best in the world across a range of applications and to be able to produce and develop high quality products, Kanthal needs to understand the mechanism that breaks down materials at high temperatures.
“It’s essential that high temperature materials are able to form a protective oxide layer, so a great deal of our research with HTC involves getting this oxide layer to behave as well as possible. HTC provides us with access not only to world-leading high-temperature research, but also to an important network.”
“The environment, companies and Sweden all profit from the collaboration between industry and research.”
– Dilip Chandrasekaran, Head of R&D at Kanthal.
By producing better materials that can withstand higher temperatures and more corrosive environments, it is possible to use products for longer and improve process productivity, thereby reducing environmental impact. Using theoretical simulations and practical tests, HTC and Sandvik build on their knowledge and are able to predict qualities and properties for evaluation, both in the laboratory and in real-world process plants.
“It is an effective method that’s constantly under development. Collaboration between industry and research helps Sweden’s industrial base stay at the leading edge. It means we’re able to increase the rate of product development, and this not only provides gains for the environment but naturally also both for companies and for Sweden,” says Jan-Erik Svensson, Professor of Materials Chemistry and Head of Division of Energy and Materials at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology.
Concrete results with major returns
One example of where Kanthal’s and HTC’s efforts have made a difference is in the rollers used to transport products through large industrial ovens. Conventional rollers usually need to be cooled in order to cope with loads and corrosion at high temperatures.
“Our materials development has enabled us to replace water-cooled rollers with uncooled versions. One of our customers replaced their rollers a couple of years ago and now saves 8 GWh per year in one single oven. A replacement can have an extremely positive impact on the environment,” says Dilip Chandrasekaran.
The research covers many fields and can be applied in e.g. solar thermal energy, waste incineration, biomass combustion and energy storage etc.
“HTC works with eco-friendly, renewable energy. Our focus is on energy saving, and the best way of reducing emissions from energy generation is not to need the energy in the first place”, says Jan-Erik Svensson.
Sustainability is important for Sandvik, which sees gains in both commercial and environmental terms.
“If we can use environmentally sustainable material and as little of it as possible yet still achieve the same or better results, we also help our customers streamline their processes and become more sustainable. We seek to avoid a throwaway mentality and we strive constantly to offer products that reduce the consumption of finite resources both during manufacture and use,” says Dilip Chandrasekaran.
Active search for HTC’s expertise
Sandvik is one of the companies that initiated the formation of HTC 21 years ago. The collaboration has developed ever since and today HTC is involved at an early stage in product development processes.
“The more clearly we can define a problem, the more effective our collaboration, something we naturally perceive as extremely beneficial for us. It provides great gains for us and for our customers,” says Dilip Chandrasekaran.