Not just for space heating
Most of us are familiar with infrared heat as used for space heating in place of forced air systems, especially in large, open spaces. Infrared (IR) heaters save energy because they are able to provide directional, focused heat directly onto occupants instead of consuming gobs of energy heating air that will quickly be diluted and may never reach occupants. This same idea of focusing heat to where it is needed can easily be applied to industrial processes.
Where to look
Infrared heating can be used in a wide variety of processes. Some examples include curing coatings, activating an adhesive, drying or removing moisture from a product, or warming a plastic to make it more malleable. Infrared can even be used in the food industry for disinfecting, cooking, melting, or browning operations.
Infrared heating is very versatile when it comes to the type of product that can be treated. There are applications that use IR for glass, plastic, rubber, metal, ceramic, paper, and epoxy’s or resins. Infrared systems can be electrical or gas fed and can be used in short or long wavelengths to vary temperature and penetration into productions. It can also be used to decrease production times and can often be easily integrated in-line with an existing manufacturing process.
Of course, with so many different forms of IR heating available, it is important that each specific application is considered independently and an appropriate design is made for each. This will prevent possible over-heating or under-heating problems.
As mentioned before, infrared provides savings by applying direct heat and limiting the amount of energy that is wasted by warming surroundings unnecessarily. For example, with a traditional gas curing oven, as little as 15% of the heat input may end up heating the product. The rest is wasted to the surroundings. With the direct heating of IR systems, the heat actually applied to the intended product can be 25% or higher. This is a 2/3 increase in the amount of total heat that is used for a particular process instead of lost as waste. Multiply this by thousands or hundreds of thousands of items per year and the savings are easy to see.
To sum up, infrared heating can be used to apply direct heating; reducing waste and improving the efficiency of industrial processes. Put the heat directly where it is needed and save energy (and money) as a result.