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With more than 380 employees, the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) is one of the largest of 56 Institutes in the Fraunhofer Society which itself is the largest organization for applied research in Europe.

ICT is a unique research and development facility on energetic materials, energetic systems, polymer engineering, applied electrochemistry and environmental engineering comprising the entire span from basic research tasks to application investigations and product introduction on behalf of customers' needs. The department of polymer engineering comprises 4 competence teams focused on composites, new materials and products, integrated processes injection moulding and extrusion and finally the 13 members of the interdisciplinary competence team of microwave and plasma dealing since more than 10 years with the development of microwave and plasma applications. The main goal of the microwave applications is to find solutions in the volumetric heating process technology using the benefits of microwaves at 2,45GHz.

Role in the Project

Fraunhofer will investigate the rubber vulcanization with microwave (MW) and infrared (IR) radiation heat treatment. Base of these investigations are the temperature dependent dielectric properties in the valid IR and MW regime. Detailed knowledge is necessary in heating processes, where the dimensions of the application are of the same order as the exciting wavelength. This is the case for the MW heating of a fire hose application. Beside simplified static heating experiments, the dielectric data are used for the FEM-Simulation of different shapes of heating tunnels to optimize the electric field distribution in order to homogenise the temperature profile of the extruded rubber.

The optimized design will be realized in a MW and in an IR heating tunnels for dynamic vulcanization.

Personnel Involved

Dr. Rudi Emmerich. Dr. Emmerich is permanent staff of the Department since 1996. He has been the responsible in the Department for most of the national and European Projects related to microwave heating of polymers and will be the internal responsible for this project. He has the necessary experience in the Design of Experiments.

Matthias Graf.Mr. Graf made with his PHD-theses a careful investigation on the microwave heating of thermoplastic materials. With almost 5 years experience in FEM-Simulation of electric field distributions dependent on the dielectric behaviour of the material and the MW-Applicator configuration, he will do the Simulation and construction of the heating tunnel.

Sascha Baumann.Since the last 5 years, Mr. Baumann has been involved in a wide variety of activities concerning the combined and dosed inset of MW-power in an extrusion process. He will represent the link between rubber extrusion and MW/IR heating.

Christian Ress.Mr Ress is responsible for the determination of the dielectric function in dependence on the excitation frequency, the temperature (microwave calorimetry) and any phase transition processes. Within the project he will do the dielectric measurements.