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Microwave and Process Technologies

Y-12 National Security Complex

Contact Y12 About This Technology

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PDF Document PublicationMicrowave Fact Sheet (552 KB)


Technology Marketing Summary

For more than two decades Y-12 has been developing microwave metal and ceramic processing technologies related to melting, casting, heat treating, sintering and bonding. Recent developments include vast improvements in ceramic systems that provide ways to heat materials not readily amendable to microwave processing. With one basic system, it is possible to melt, cast and heat-treat. Because some metals cast with microwaves do not produce an alpha case, resulting parts can be used with minimal post-processing. Microwave-assisted chemical synthesis also is possible and is routinely used to process difficult or sensitive chemical compounds.

Description
  • Safe: heating is limited to specified area, increasing worker safety
  • Clean: heating creates no solid residues
  • Versatile: methods can heat disparate materials simultaneously, creating products having qualities superior to those of individual components
  • Economical: higher throughput and improved energy efficiency result in reduced manufacturing costs
Applications and Industries
  • Casting: produces high-quality metal with few inclusions and contamination
  • Annealing and heat-treating: has results comparable to those of other heat-treating methods
  • Sintering, bonding, and assembly: joins adjacent porous components having different strengths, electrical-/heat-transfer properties or coefficients of thermal expansion
  • Fluidized bed: occurs in microwave-heated bed, resulting in quick, uniform heating and exceptional thermal conductivity
  • Microwave assisted chemistry (MAC): allows the manufacture of chemicals, cross-linking of polymers and catalysis of reactions (some of which are possible only by MAC)
  • Plasma creation/containment: controls location of created plasma so that it remains in proper zone for nanotechnology and other materials-processing applications
More Information

TRL 7: Actual Prototype demonstration in an operational environment.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Date
Patent 7,857,193
Patent
7,857,193
Method of forming and assembly of parts
A method of assembling two or more parts together that may be metal, ceramic, metal and ceramic parts, or parts that have different CTE. Individual parts are formed and sintered from particles that leave a network of interconnecting porosity in each sintered part. The separate parts are assembled together and then a fill material is infiltrated into the assembled, sintered parts using a method such as capillary action, gravity, and/or pressure. The assembly is then cured to yield a bonded and fully or near-fully dense part that has the desired physical and mechanical properties for the part's intended purpose. Structural strength may be added to the parts by the inclusion of fibrous materials.
Y-12 National Security Complex 12/28/2010
Issued
Patent 8,061,580
Patent
8,061,580
Method of forming and assembly of metal parts and ceramic parts
A method of forming and assembling at least two parts together that may be metal, ceramic, or a combination of metal and ceramic parts. Such parts may have different CTE. Individual parts that are formed and sintered from particles leave a network of interconnecting porosity in each sintered part. The separate parts are assembled together and then a fill material is infiltrated into the assembled parts using a method such as capillary action, gravity, and/or pressure. The assembly is then cured to yield a bonded and fully or near-fully dense part that has the desired physical and mechanical properties for the part's intended purpose. Structural strength may be added to the parts by the inclusion of fibrous materials.
Y-12 National Security Complex 11/22/2011
Issued
Patent 7,939,787
Patent
7,939,787
Apparatus with moderating material for microwave heat treatment of manufactured components
An apparatus for heat treating manufactured components using microwave energy and microwave susceptor material. Heat treating medium such as eutectic salts may be employed. A fluidized bed introduces process gases which may include carburizing or nitriding gases The process may be operated in a batch mode or continuous process mode. A microwave heating probe may be used to restart a frozen eutectic salt bath.
Y-12 National Security Complex 05/10/2011
Issued
Patent 8,716,637
Patent
8,716,637
Fluidized bed heat treating system
Systems for heat treating materials are presented. The systems typically involve a fluidized bed that contains granulated heat treating material. In some embodiments a fluid, such as an inert gas, is flowed through the granulated heat treating medium, which homogenizes the temperature of the heat treating medium. In some embodiments the fluid may be heated in a heating vessel and flowed into the process chamber where the fluid is then flowed through the granulated heat treating medium. In some embodiments the heat treating material may be liquid or granulated heat treating material and the heat treating material may be circulated through a heating vessel into a process chamber where the heat treating material contacts the material to be heat treated. Microwave energy may be used to provide the source of heat for heat treating systems.
Y-12 National Security Complex 05/06/2014
Issued
Patent 7,603,963
Patent
7,603,963
Controlled zone microwave plasma system
An apparatus and method for initiating a process gas plasma. A conductive plate having a plurality of conductive fingers is positioned in a microwave applicator. An arc forms between the conductive fingers to initiate the formation of a plasma. A transport mechanism may convey process materials through the plasma. A spray port may be provided to expel processed materials.
Y-12 National Security Complex 10/20/2009
Issued
Patent 7,601,294
Patent
7,601,294
High volume production of nanostructured materials
A system and method for high volume production of nanoparticles, nanotubes, and items incorporating nanoparticles and nanotubes. Microwave, radio frequency, or infrared energy vaporizes a metal catalyst which, as it condenses, is contacted by carbon or other elements such as silicon, germanium, or boron to form agglomerates. The agglomerates may be annealed to accelerate the production of nanotubes. Magnetic or electric fields may be used to align the nanotubes during their production. The nanotubes may be separated from the production byproducts in aligned or non-aligned configurations. The agglomerates may be formed directly into tools, optionally in compositions that incorporate other materials such as abrasives, binders, carbon-carbon composites, and cermets.
Y-12 National Security Complex 10/13/2009
Issued
Patent 8,701,970
Patent
8,701,970
Method of forming and assembly of metal and ceramic parts
A method of forming and assembling at least two parts together that may be metal, ceramic, or a combination of metal and ceramic parts. Such parts may have different CTE. Individual parts that are formed and sintered from particles leave a network of interconnecting porosity in each sintered part. The separate parts are assembled together and then a fill material is infiltrated into the assembled parts using a method such as capillary action, gravity, and/or pressure. The assembly is then cured to yield a bonded and fully or near-fully dense part that has the desired physical and mechanical properties for the part's intended purpose. Structural strength may be added to the parts by the inclusion of fibrous materials.
Y-12 National Security Complex 04/22/2014
Issued
Patent 7,767,943
Patent
7,767,943
Methods for microwave heat treatment of manufactured components
An apparatus for heat treating manufactured components using microwave energy and microwave susceptor material. Heat treating medium such as eutectic salts may be employed. A fluidized bed introduces process gases which may include carburizing or nitriding gases. The process may be operated in a batch mode or continuous process mode. A microwave heating probe may be used to restart a frozen eutectic salt bath.
08/03/2010
Issued
Patent 8,183,507
Patent
8,183,507
Heat treating of manufactured components
An apparatus for heat treating manufactured components using microwave energy and microwave susceptor material is disclosed. The system typically includes an insulating vessel placed within a microwave applicator chamber. A moderating material is positioned inside the insulating vessel so that a substantial portion of the exterior surface of each component for heat treating is in contact with the moderating material.
Y-12 National Security Complex 05/22/2012
Issued
Patent 7,358,469
Patent
7,358,469
Apparatus for microwave heat treatment of manufactured components
An apparatus for heat treating manufactured components using microwave energy and microwave susceptor material. Heat treating medium such as eutectic salts may be employed. A fluidized bed introduces process gases which may include carburizing or nitriding gases. The process may be operated in a batch mode or continuous process mode. A microwave heating probe may be used to restart a frozen eutectic salt bath.
Y-12 National Security Complex 04/15/2008
Issued
Patent 7,161,126
Patent
7,161,126
Microwave heat treating of manufactured components
An apparatus for heat treating manufactured components using microwave energy and microwave susceptor material. Heat treating medium such as eutectic salts may be employed. A fluidized bed introduces process gases which may include carburizing or nitriding gases. The process may be operated in a batch mode or continuous process mode. A microwave heating probe may be used to restart a frozen eutectic salt bath.
Y-12 National Security Complex 01/09/2007
Issued
Patent 8,028,654
Patent
8,028,654
Planar controlled zone microwave plasma system
An apparatus and method for initiating a process gas plasma. A conductive plate having a plurality of conductive fingers is positioned in a microwave applicator. An arc forms between the conductive fingers to initiate the formation of a plasma. A transport mechanism may convey process materials through the plasma. A spray port may be provided to expel processed materials.
Y-12 National Security Complex 10/04/2011
Issued
Patent 6,562,418
Patent
6,562,418
Microwave processing of pressed boron powders for use as cathodes in vacuum arc sources
Boron powders are sintered and densified utilizing a microwave environment for so doing.
Y-12 National Security Complex 05/13/2003
Issued
Patent 7,011,136
Patent
7,011,136
Method and apparatus for melting metals
A method and apparatus for melting metals uses microwave energy as the primary source of heat. The metal or mixture of metals are placed in a ceramic crucible which couples, at least partially, with the microwaves to be used. The crucible is encased in a ceramic casket for insulation and placed within a microwave chamber. The chamber may be evacuated and refilled to exclude oxygen. After melting, the crucible may be removed for pouring or poured within the chamber by dripping or running into a heated mold within the chamber. Apparent coupling of the microwaves with softened or molten metal produces high temperatures with great energy savings.
Y-12 National Security Complex 03/14/2006
Issued
Patent 7,621,672
Patent
7,621,672
Thermocouple shield
A thermocouple shield for use in radio frequency fields. In some embodiments the shield includes an electrically conductive tube that houses a standard thermocouple having a thermocouple junction. The electrically conductive tube protects the thermocouple from damage by an RF (including microwave) field and mitigates erroneous temperature readings due to the microwave or RF field. The thermocouple may be surrounded by a ceramic sheath to further protect the thermocouple. The ceramic sheath is generally formed from a material that is transparent to the wavelength of the microwave or RF energy. The microwave transparency property precludes heating of the ceramic sheath due to microwave coupling, which could affect the accuracy of temperature measurements. The ceramic sheath material is typically an electrically insulating material. The electrically insulative properties of the ceramic sheath help avert electrical arcing, which could damage the thermocouple junction. The electrically conductive tube is generally disposed around the thermocouple junction and disposed around at least a portion of the ceramic sheath. The concepts of the thermocouple shield may be incorporated into an integrated shielded thermocouple assembly.
Y-12 National Security Complex 11/24/2009
Issued
Patent 6,554,924
Patent
6,554,924
Metallic diffusion process and improved article produced thereby
A uniquely surface-modified metallic part is provided by the utilization of microwave energy to promote diffusion of desired metals into the surface of the formed metallic part.
Y-12 National Security Complex 04/29/2003
Issued
Patent 7,909,907
Patent
7,909,907
Methods for high volume production of nanostructured materials
A system and method for high volume production of nanoparticles, nanotubes, and items incorporating nanoparticles and nanotubes. Microwave, radio frequency, or infrared energy vaporizes a metal catalyst which, as it condenses, is contacted by carbon or other elements such as silicon, germanium, or boron to form agglomerates. The agglomerates may be annealed to accelerate the production of nanotubes. Magnetic or electric fields may be used to align the nanotubes during their production. The nanotubes may be separated from the production byproducts in aligned or non-aligned configurations. The agglomerates may be formed directly into tools, optionally in compositions that incorporate other materials such as abrasives, binders, carbon-carbon composites, and cermets.
Y-12 National Security Complex 03/22/2011
Issued
Patent 7,622,189
Patent
7,622,189
Ceramic nanostructures and methods of fabrication
Structures and methods for the fabrication of ceramic nanostructures. Structures include metal particles, preferably comprising copper, disposed on a ceramic substrate. The structures are heated, preferably in the presence of microwaves, to a temperature that softens the metal particles and preferably forms a pool of molten ceramic under the softened metal particle. A nano-generator is created wherein ceramic material diffuses through the molten particle and forms ceramic nanostructures on a polar site of the metal particle. The nanostructures may comprise silica, alumina, titania, or compounds or mixtures thereof.
Y-12 National Security Complex 11/24/2009
Issued
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
PrototypeAvailable02/20/201702/20/2017

Contact Y12 About This Technology

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