Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

CLEAN-HEAT Report Summary

Project ID: 666488

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CLEAN-HEAT (A highly efficient intelligent industrial microwave heating system based on high power solid state technology)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

CLEAN-HEAT is a 24 month project funded by the European Commission’s H2020 framework programme within the SME instrument phase 2 funding scheme.

The CLEAN-HEAT consortium consists of the lead SME, Fricke and Mallah Microwave Technology GmbH (F&M) partnering with another SME, Microwave Technology (MTL). These SME partners are supported by a number of third parties including Pera Technology Solutions Ltd and London Metropolitan University.

Magnetrons are the most widely used microwave technology today for both industrial and domestic microwaves. But these systems can only achieve efficiencies of around 45 to 50%, pose safety risks as the use high voltages (5kV) and the magnetrons have a short lifespan requiring frequent replacement. Magnetron technology does not allow for the automatic adjustment of power level to match the load variations. These limitations have a huge cost to industrial microwave processes and there are calls for more efficient solutions. Across Europe, microwaves consume over 9.6 TWh of electrical energy annually.
F&M seeks to upscale its 200W solid state continuous wave microwave system to address these limitations. The 1kW gallium nitride based microwave system will save at least 25% on electricity consumption, operate at more than 70% efficiency, allow automatic adjustment of power level in response to load variations and significantly reduce equipment size. It will also provide increased lifespan eliminating the need for frequent and costly replacements. With all these excellent features and performance advantages, our product also comes at a very competitive cost to the user which lies in the same range with the magnetron systems.
Solid state microwave technology can be used in moisture meters, medical applications like RF-Surgery, and microwave ovens for the manufacture of electronic assemblies. It also offers opportunity for automatic power matching that enhances energy efficiency and faster processing speeds. Full adoption of our technology in both domestic and industrial microwave ovens would lead to potential energy savings of 6.74TWh of electrical power across Europe.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first 12 months of the project all subsystems that make up the CLEAN-HEAT microwave system have been specified and designed.

The subsystems that make up the Solid State Power Amplifier have been specified and prototype models have been simulated, manufactured and tested. This includes characterisation of the selected GaN devices; design of the RF amplifier and power circuitry; specification and characterisation of a high power isolator; design, simulation and test of the power divider and combiner; design and test low loss RF coupler and detector circuits for measuring forward and reverse power.

A thermal management system for the Solid State power amplifier has been developed. This included the development and simulation of the cooling system and the development of the thermal sensing and control system.

A custom designed Cross Polarizing cavity has been designed, simulated and optimized to obtain the required cross polarized RF signal.

A rectangular microwave chamber, that fits on the Cross Polarizing cavity has been designed and simulated. The chamber dimensions have been optimized to ensure maximum energy is contained within the microwave chamber and that the electromagnetic field is distributed evenly on the surface of the chamber to ensure homogeneous heating of the target material within the chamber.

The sub-system components that make up the phase shift network have been specified and tested to confirm performance under the specific conditions required for this development.

The requirements for the power management system have been evaluated and compared to the systems that are already implemented for LDMOS based amplifiers. Based on this analysis, a power management system using a decentralized system of power management circuits supported by a number of temperature sensors has been specified and designed.

In the next 12 months of the project the project partners will focus on completing the build, testing and integration of the Solid State Power Amplifier, the microwave emitter system and the thermal and power management systems.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

CLEAN-HEAT offers a completely new solution to industrial microwave users who suffer problems with high energy and O&M costs accruing from inefficiency of magnetron technology and its need for frequent replacements. Furthermore our solid state microwave technology is transferable to domestic microwaves and RF wireless systems further reducing energy consumption for domestic consumers and indirectly reducing the CO2 emissions from Europe’s power generating plants.

Propelled by a strong desire to attain its ambitious growth vision of increasing turnover from the current stable position of around €3 million to €9 million by 2020, F&M seeks to create new microwave application market using solid state microwave technology while strengthening presence in existing ones through a novel technology.

Solid state microwave technology can be used in moisture meters, medical applications as example RF-Surgery, and microwave ovens for the manufacture of electronic assemblies. It also offers opportunity for automatic power matching that enhances energy efficiency and faster processing speeds. This is especially important to the laboratory and pharmaceutical industry where huge load variations increase microwave inefficiencies.

Our solution, based on gallium nitride solid state microwave technology, will enhance energy efficiencies of microwaves to over 70% thereby reducing energy costs of industrial heating or drying. One other key feature of gallium nitride solid state microwave technology is that it has a long lifespan of more than 10,000 hours of operation in continuous wave mode. This is more than five times that of existing magnetron technology.

Using several embedded emitters that are configured to provide directed microwave energy within the heating cavity will enable our solution to deliver two times faster heating or processing rates compared to magnetron systems. This enables faster production turn arounds and higher space utilisation due to the improved compactness of the microwave source.

Solid state microwave technology also allows for the use of very low voltages unlike magnetron technology which requires operational voltages as high as 5,000V, this means our solution is much safer and would lower accident and health insurance premiums.

Our projections show that full adoption of our technology in both domestic and industrial microwave ovens could save up to 6.74 TWh of electrical energy representing a reduction of ca. 5.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from power generating plants. Such savings are in line with the European Union target for a 20% cut in annual primary energy consumption by 2020.

Energy savings are essential for the decarbonisation of the European economy, potentially covering half the EU’s 80% emission reduction target by 2050. Energy savings can also reduce energy prices by driving down fossil fuel prices as demand decreases. If all cost-effective efficiency measures are implemented, by 2020 net annual savings for European businesses and consumers would be an estimated €107 billion. Of the expected savings, €1.8 billion can come from using more efficient GaN based solid state microwave systems. This means our proposed solution has the potential to contribute around 1.7% of the targeted savings. In addition to the direct savings an additional €1.8 billion can be saved due to lower energy prices.

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