CryoZone has announced it has designed and manufactured the cryostat to be used in the heating of metal in a high temperature superconducting (HTS) solution that could bring enormous energy savings.

The company, based in the Netherlands delivered the cryostat Trithor in Germany and it will now form part of a superconducting DC-coil used in a billet heater. Until now, heating the billet - the name given to a large piece of metal cast into a cylindrical form - has been achieved through induction by AC current.

This involves positioning the billet inside a large coil which, upon application of the current, heats the billet until it is malleable enough to be extruded into the desired shape. However, the coil itself is metal and also becomes extremely hot, which compromises efficiency. $quot;Normally, just over 40 percent of the power used is typically converted to heat in the billet$quot;, says Ronald den Heijer, CEO of CryoZone.

The HTS approach uses superconducting wire with the temperature of the coil reduced to approximately -243°C, allowing it to superconduct. The associated losses are far lower, and the efficiency of the billet heater rises to 90 percent. This has far-reaching implications for the metal processing industry. Huge amounts of power can be saved, as it is not uncommon for large billet heaters to be rated at 1 or 2 MW, and many such installations operate round the clock.

The system is currently being tested in Germany by Trithor, the company which incorporates the CryoZone cooling technology in its HTS billet heaters. The initial signs are very encouraging. $quot;It is a relatively small system, catering only for billets of 180mm x 650 mm, but can be scaled up without any problem$quot;, says Den Heijer. In full operation, HTS induction heaters could pay for itself within five years due to the amount of energy saved and lower cost of infrastructure.