Molten aluminium is poured into permanent moulds to produce aluminium castings such as alloy wheels, cylinder heads or valve bodies. The metal is melted beforehand in an aluminium melting furnace. The Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover (IPH) is developing a 3D camera to monitor the internal state of the furnace where temperatures range up to 1,000°C.
Sara Mohammadifard from the IPH has succeeded in developing a 3D camera that can view down the melting shaft from above. She has mounted the 3D camera outside the furnace to prevent the electronics melting. A small hatch is opened very briefly to allow the camera to take a 3D image of the ingot block. This measuring technique generally reduces the energy loss far less when more material is added than otherwise having to open the large charging door. "By applying this step and analysing the data measured in the plant control, we can increase energy efficiency by up to 15% and reduce melting time", says Sven-Olaf Sauke from ZPF GmbH, who is collaborating closely with the IPH on this research project.
To improve this value even more, Mohammadifard is developing the monitoring technology further in the research project "Increasing the efficiency of an aluminium melting furnace (ALSO 4.0)". Besides the IPH and melting furnace maker ZPF, researchers from the Freiberg University of Technology and Mining Academy, BIBA (Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik) at the University of Bremen, as well as Borbet Thüringen GmbH, are also participating in this cooperation project. Together, they are pursuing two goals: firstly, they aim to predict the melting process using artificial intelligence and thereby decrease the number of measurements needed. This will reduce the need to open the hatch at the top of the furnace. Secondly, they aim to develop a technology to increase the degree of automation of the melting furnace. The research project will run to the end of November 2019 and is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.