Making MICRO Waves

A new microwave production unit is expected to save heating costs and processing time and improve purity in the melted metal.

microwaveThe Y‑12 National Security Complex is an acknowledged leader in microwave metal and ceramic processing technologies.

This foray into microwave technology began more than 30 years ago, when Y‑12 began researching a way to heal cracks in ceramics. After that successful effort, in the

1990s Y‑12 looked to microwave technology for a faster, cheaper and cleaner method to melt metal, which is a vital part of the Y‑12 production process.

A team of Y‑12 engineers, scientists and highly skilled craftspeople focused their talents on developing a superior melting process. Their efforts resulted in six research-and-development microwave units used for intensive testing and processing studies. Results showed that the new microwave technology had the potential to reduce heating costs for melting metal by 30 percent while reducing processing time, improving metal purity and significantly reducing floor space requirements. This technology could revolutionize metal melting not only at Y‑12, but also in the private sector. For U.S. industry, using microwaves to heat metals could save billions of dollars in energy costs. The casting industry alone spends about $11 billion per year on heating costs for melting metals; microwave casting could cut that cost by more than $3 billion.

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Source: News Release | B&W Y-12
Photo: B&W Y-12