CREMER Thermoprozessanlagen GmbH, Düren, Germany, has received EU funding for its CARBIDE2500 project to develop the first 2500°C industrial furnace. The project launched in May 2018 and is expected to conclude by the end of April 2020, with the total cost being reported at €1,331,000, of which the EU has contributed €931,700 through its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
CREMER specialises in pusher furnace systems with graphite coatings which operate at extremely high temperatures, above 2000°C. These systems are used in the carburising process for carbide powders such as tungsten carbide (WC). According to the company, the economic downturn and subsequent recovery in Europe has seen increasing demand for higher strength materials which offer longer product lifespans and higher overall performance, allowing for lower operational costs.
Tungsten carbide is used in many different applications across multiple large industrial sectors, including automotive and aerospace manufacturing, construction, surface and underground mining, oil & gas exploration, as well as in many manufacturing industries (including paper, textiles, electronics, etc).
As a result of increasing demand, the global tungsten carbide powder market is expected to grow from €13.6 billion in 2016 to €22.91 billion in 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 5.4%. Demand for other carbides, such as tantalum carbide or niobium carbide, is also increasing. Tests have proven that WC powder produced at 2500°C is three-to-five times higher strength than the same material produced at 2200°C. However, there are currently no industrial scale furnaces capable of operating at 2500°C.
The CARBIDE2500 furnace will be the first industrial furnace capable of operating at 2500°C, thereby making it possible to produce higher strength carbides than currently possible.