Toray Engineering and MWCC
Form an alliance for the development and sale of drying equipment/plant utilizing microwaves
Toray Engineering Co., Ltd. (henceforth, TEK) (headquarters: Chuo, Tokyo, CEO: Susumu Ota) and Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. (henceforth, MWCC) (headquarters: Suita, Osaka, CEO: Iwao Yoshino), an Osaka University-originated venture, have agreed on a joint development agreement which will commence the development of hybrid-type dryer equipment that utilizes microwaves. Demonstrations using the pilot plant will begin in 2015, focusing on fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oleochemicals, and petrochemicals, the business-side of which is set to begin in 2016.
A conventional drying facility at a chemical plant relies on indirect heating with hot air or steam, and drying a particular substance within a chemical product requires the entire chemical product to be heated from the outside. It therefore takes many hours to dry a product which results in poor energy efficiency.
Microwaves enable selective and rapid heating from the inside by directly vibrating the molecules within a substance.
Although the effects of microwave technology are widely recognized, it has been considered difficult to increase the scale of microwave facilities in terms of facility design including selecting the optimal frequency and the method of temperature control, and from the perspective of safety and controllability of microwaves. A facility scale-up was finally achieved after trial and error based on the result of joint development between MWCC and Osaka University, which have both researched microwaves for many years.
Adjusting the frequency of microwaves makes it possible to heat only the molecules that need to be dried. We expect this to lead to significant optimization. Depending on the object, dry time, energy consumption, and facility size can be cut by 1/3 to 1/10, 2/3 to 1/2, and 1/3 to 1/10, respectively. Also, 10,000t of processing volume can be handled annually.
□The purpose of this business partnership
TEK possesses engineering capability cultivated through plant construction and sales influence over chemical manufacturers country-wide. Through this business partnership, we can expect rapid introduction of microwave technology into chemical plants.
In regard to this business partnership, Yasunori Tsukahara, director of MWCC and a specially appointed assistant professor at the Osaka University Graduate School of Engineering, has stated, “In the future, microwave technology will become a more standard feature in not only drying facilities, but also in the field of chemical product manufacturing.”