The Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems Integration & Technology Validation Competence Centre, at the University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, installed induction heating solutions company Hot Platinum's (HPT's) high-temperature vacuum furnace for a project funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST), in June.
HPT technical director Irshad Khan says the furnace will assist HySA in locally developing commercial activities in hydrogen storage and fuel cell technologies.
This project by HySA forms part of the current 15-year hydrogen and fuel cell technologies research, development, and innovation (HFCT RDI) strategy to locally develop commercial activities in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, which was officially launched in September 2008 by the DST.
The DST says the vision of the HFCT RDI strategy is to create wealth, jobs and intellectual property rights by initiating new high technology industries, based on minerals found in South African soil, particularly platinum-group metals (PGMs).
Khan tells Engineering News that HPT’s furnace technologies are highly automated for easy operation and produce consistently high-quality results.
“Therefore, we have been involved in many systems integration projects using our machinery. Further, in January, we moved into the sphere of robotics automation and are currently involved in a project within the automotive sector where robots are used to increase production throughput, quality and consistency,” he points out.
Khan notes that HPT’s Induction Tilt Meter (ITM) Series use isolated gate bipolar transistors based semiconductor technology in their induction smelters ranging from 2 kg to over 1 000 kg.
“Our ITM Series furnaces can melt iron, steel, copper, nickel, gold and platinum and, since launching the series in October 2008, we have introduced newer models to the range, which is why sales figures locally and those of the export market have remained strong.”
Moreover, he notes that HPT also installed vacuum, high temperature induction casting furnace systems to process PGMs, such as iridium, rhodium and ruthenium for the local mining companies.
Khan asserts that machines are unique as “they are capable of melting iridium at 2 450 °C in under one minute”.
“Our furnace products are all locally manufactured at the HPT factory in Killarney Gardens, Cape Town, using a high proportion of locally produced materials.”
Further, Khan highlights that the company’s furnace system is environment- friendly, as it uses electricity and produces no combustible fumes.
Additionally, he notes HPT’s furnaces are highly energy efficient, as heat is generated only where it is required.
“Our systems use about 30% less power to do the same work, compared with other furnaces on the market,” states Khan.
Khan laments the recent levels of significant volatility in the local furnace industry, owing to the five-month strike in the platinum sector and the ongoing/ more recent strike in the metals and engineering sector.
Nonetheless, he notes the export market has remained stable, as the company has exported products to several countries in past nine years, including a number of African countries, India, the US, Thailand, Russia and Denmark.