Iowa Patent of the Month – August 2023

Microwave heating has been a game-changer in a broad range of industries, from processing grease to cooking food products. This heating process is most effective when the products being heated are di-polar. Unfortunately, poly-polar materials are considered microwave transparent because their response to the microwaves is so weak. Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing, Inc. has been working on technology to universally heat products regardless of their polarity and this work has paid off with a newly awarded patent.

The new apparatus designed by Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing incorporates susceptors within the vessels used for heating and mixing materials. Susceptors are materials known for their ability to absorb electromagnetic energy from microwaves and convert it into heat and infrared thermal energy. This innovative incorporation of susceptors inside the vessels opens up a world of possibilities.

When microwave-transparent materials are placed in the vessel, the susceptor material is activated, and the material begins to heat up. On the other hand, if di-polar materials are present, they absorb the magnetic energy of the microwaves, rendering the presence of the susceptor inconsequential.

This breakthrough invention not only allows for efficient heating of di-polar materials but also makes microwaves a universal heating source for products, regardless of their polarity. It eliminates the previous limitations that only allowed effective heating of di-polar materials and expands the scope of microwave-based heating applications.

Implementing the susceptor technology is accomplished through well-established processes, such as chemical bonding using adhesive materials similar to those used in manufacturing sandpapers. Materials like aluminum oxide or silicon carbide, known for their effective susceptance, can be utilized. This cost-effective method can be employed with moderate heating and requires no scraped surface agitation.

Alternatively, experts can apply high-speed burning gasses or plasma to the vessel’s surface while feeding susceptor materials in powder form into the passing flame. The susceptor materials melt in the high-temperature burning gas and form a metallic bond with the target surface, similar to welding. This mature technology allows for the uniform application of different grain sizes and thicknesses of the susceptor, accommodating various shapes and parts.

Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing’s invention has the potential to transform how we approach industrial heating processes. By making microwaves a universal heating source, this innovation promises greater efficiency and broader applications for the future.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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