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Kubal-Wraith Awarded Materials Science Venture Prize from Worshipful

Industrial Photonics
Oct 2018
A new laser technology developed by Swansea University spin-out company Kubal-Wraith Ltd. has won the £25,000 ($33,000) Materials Science Venture Prize awarded by the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers.

The technology allows steelworkers to monitor in real time the temperature and chemical composition in molten metal furnaces, saving each steel plant up to £4.5 million ($5.9 million) a year. In current steelmaking procedure, production is halted while disposable probes are immersed into the molten metal to measure temperature and take samples. This is inefficient, as it takes up time, requires expensive probes, and reduces productivity.

In contrast, the new technology uses lasers projected into the molten furnace that monitor the contents continually. There is no need for disposable probes, and production does not need to be stopped.

"Our new technology allows a laser beam to be projected into a molten furnace through a channel called a tuyère in the furnace wall,” said Szymon Kubal, research fellow at Swansea University. “We exploit the latest gas-injection techniques to protect the data channel. One difficulty was testing our innovations in an operational steel plant under production conditions. However, by working with Tata Steel UK, we are able to undertake full-scale trials."

The technology is also applicable to other metals, including aluminium, copper, and nickel. World Steel Association data indicates there are more than 1000 molten metal furnaces worldwide, which could see benefits in cost and productivity by using the new method of monitoring.

"This project shows how research and innovation has the potential to transform long-established manufacturing processes,” said Bill Bonfield, chairman of the Armourers and Brasiers Venture Prize judging panel. “Our prize looks to encourage scientific entrepreneurship in the UK and provide funding to help innovative developments like this realize their potential."

BusinessSwansea UniversityKubal-WraithmaterialsEuropeBusiness News

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