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RF Heating

RF Heating

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Published by Kuldip Gor

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Published by: Kuldip Gor on Jul 08, 2011
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This paper basically presents one of the important phenomenon in powerelectronics called RF(radio frequency)Heating. It is basically conversion of highfrequency current into heat. It is mainly due totwo processes known as induction heating anddielectric heating. As application point of viewthey are important in various industries andhome appliances.
 Index Terms
ííEddy current, Hysteresis loss,Curie temperature, Dielectric loss, Dipolerotation
Radio frequency heating is the heatingof materials by radio frequency (otherwise calledelectromagnetic) energy. The frequency of operation ranges from hundreds of kHz to tens of MHz and basically depends upon the heatingeffect of ac current. Based on the means of  production of high frequency ac current, RFheating can be divided into 3 general categoriesas below.1)
Induction Heating2)
Dielectric Heating3)
Microwave HeatingElectromagnetic energy of any frequency isabsorbed (and reflected) to a greater or lesser degree by all materials. Different frequencies areused for different purposes.
Induction Heating
Induction heating involves the heating of electrically conducting materials byelectromagnetic induction. The material is to beheated is known as work piece and the coilwound around it is called as work coil. The work coil will act as primary winding and the work  piece will act as short circuited secondarywinding of a transformer. The frequency usedmay vary from as low as mains frequency (50/60Hz) to more than 10 MHz. When a highfrequency ac voltage is applied across the coil, amagnetizing current will flow through it. Eddycurrents are induced in the material, and thesecurrents cause heating. This will generate flux inthe work piece and induced voltage into the work  piece. Heating also occurs by hysteresis loss if thematerial has significantrelative permeability (e.g., steel). Inductionheating is generally a non-contact process andusually consists of a coil in close proximity to butnot touching the material to be heated (usually ametal).The heat loss in work piece is normallyconfined to surface of the work piece due to µskineffect¶. It is observed at higher frequencies of operation. An induction heater (for any process)consists of an electromagnet, through which ahigh-frequency alternating current (AC) is passed.. The frequency of AC used depends onthe object size, material type, coupling (betweenthe work coil and the object to be heated) and the penetration depth. The basic setup isan AC power supply that provides electricity withlow voltage but very high current andhigh frequency. The work piece to heat is placedinside an air coil driven by the power supply,usually in combination with a resonant tank capacitor to increase the reactive power. Thealternating magnetic field induces eddycurrents in the work piece.Magnetic materials improve the induction heat process because of hysteresis. In essencematerials with high permeability (100±500) areeasier to heat with induction heating. Hysteresisheating occurs below the Curietemperature where materials lose their magnetic properties.So high permeability and temperature belowCurie temperature in the work piece is useful.
Radio Frequency Heating and Their Applications
Kuldip Gor (08BEC030), Electronics & Communication Department,Institute of Technology, Nirma University, Ahmedabad-382481.
Also temperature difference, mass, and specificheat influence the work piece heating.The energy transfer of induction heating iscoupled to the distance between the coil and thework piece. Energy losses occur through heatconduction from work piece to fixture, naturalconvection and thermal radiation.The induction coil is usually made of 3.175± 4.7625 mm diameter copper tubing and fluidcooled. Diameter, shape, and number of turnsinfluence the efficiency and field pattern.
The depth of penetration depends onfrequency. Hence, depth of heating can becontrolled by frequency.
The heat is concentrated at limited parts of surface.
High heating reduces the possibility of oxidation.
ery high heating rates are possible.
Heating can be done in vacuum or anygas.
Automatic control of temperature is also possible.
Continuous energy is not required.
Due to eddy currents, the stirring effect isautomatic. Hence, during melting there isthorough mixing of metals to form alloys.
Heating process is pollution free. Hence,the quality of product is maintained.
Due to automatic control, unskilled labour can operate it.
Because of the absence of ash and fluegas, better working conditions are preserved.
A high frequency power source isrequired, which is costly and complex.Thus, initial cost required is more.
The heating process is not efficient. Theoverall efficiency is poor, less than 50%in many cases.
Running cost is high.
Induction heating allows the targeted heating of an applicable item for applications includingsurface hardening, melting, brazing and solderingand heating to fit. Iron and its alloys respond bestto induction heating, due totheir ferromagnetic nature. Eddy currents can,however, be generated in any conductor, andmagnetic hysteresis can occur in any magneticmaterial. Induction heating has been used to heatliquid conductors (such as molten metals) andalso gaseous conductors (such as a gas plasma).Induction heating is often used to heat graphitecrucibles (containing other materials) and is usedextensively in the semiconductor industry for theheating of silicon and other semiconductors.Supply frequency (mains, 50/60 Hz) inductionheating is used for many lower cost industrialapplications as inverters are not required.Fig.1 Induction heating of metal bar.
Induction furnace
An induction furnace uses induction to heatmetal to its melting point. Once molten, thehigh-frequency magnetic field can also beused to stir the hot metal, which is useful inensuring that alloying additions are fullymixed into the melt. Most induction furnacesconsist of a tube of water-cooled copper ringssurrounding a container of refractory material. Induction furnaces areused in most modern foundries as a cleaner method of melting metals thana reverberatory furnace or a cupola. Sizesrange from a kilogram of capacity to ahundred of tons capacity. Induction furnacesoften emit a high-pitched whine or hum when
they are running, depending on their operating frequency. Metals meltedinclude iron and steel, copper, aluminiumand precious metals. Because it is a clean andnon-contact process it can be used in avacuum or inert atmosphere.
acuumfurnaces make use of induction heating for the production of specialty steels and other alloys that would oxidize if heated in the presence of air.
Induction welding
A similar, smaller-scale process is usedfor induction welding. Plastics may also bewelded by induction, if they are either dopedwith ferromagnetic ceramics (wheremagnetic hysteresis of the particles providesthe heat required) or by metallic particles.Seams of tubes can be welded this way.Currents induced in a tube run along the openseam and heat the edges resulting in atemperature high enough for welding. At this point the seam edges are forced together andthe seam is welded. The RF current can also be conveyed to the tube by brushes, but theresult is still the same -the current flowsalong the open seam, heating it.
Induction cooking
In induction cooking, an induction coil in thecook-top heats the iron base of cookware.Copper bottomed pans, aluminium pans andother non-ferrous pans are generallyunsuitable.The heat induced in the base is transferred tothe food via conduction. Benefits of induction cookers include efficiency, safety(the induction cook-top is not heated itself)and speed. Drawbacks include the fact thatnon-metallic cookware such as glass andceramic cannot be used on an induction cook-top. Both installed and portable inductioncookers are available.
Induction brazing
Induction brazing is often used in higher  production runs. It produces uniform resultsand is very repeatable.
Induction sealing
Induction heating is often used in capsealing.
Heating to fit
Induction heating is often used to heat anitem causing it to expand prior to fitting or assembly. Bearings are routinely heated inthis way using mains frequency (50/60 Hz)and a laminated steel transformer type core passing through the centre of the bearing.
Heat treatment
Induction heating is often used in the heattreatment of metal items. The most commonapplications are induction hardening of steel parts, induction soldering/brazing as a meansof joining metal components andinduction Annealing_(metallurgy) toselectively soften a selected area of a steel part. Induction heating can produce high power densities which allow short interactiontimes to reach the required temperature. Thisgives tight control of the heating pattern withthe pattern following the applied magneticfield quite closely and allows reducedthermal distortion and damage. This abilitycan be used in hardening to produce partswith varying properties. The most commonhardening process is to produce a localisedsurface hardening of an area that needs wear-resistance, while retaining the toughness of the original structure as needed elsewhere.The depth of induction hardened patterns can be controlled through choice of induction-frequency, power-density and interactiontime.There are limits to the flexibility of the process - mainly arising from the need to produce dedicated inductors for manyapplications. This is quite expensive andrequires the marshalling of high current-densities in small copper inductors, whichcan require specialized engineering and'copper-fitting'.
Core type furnace
The furnace consists of circular hearth whichcontains the charge to be melted in the form

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