Helium Quenching Replaced by Nitrogen Quenching
Past articles in “The Monty” have spoken about the very high cost associated with helium quenching due to the fact that helium is a depleting resource which will see relentless price increases. This fascinating article from Solar Atmospheres tells us how the company will be replacing Helium with Nitrogen in a 10 bar quenching vacuum furnace. By the way the numbers mentioned in this press release do not take into account the monthly trailer fee rental of $2,000 per month for helium storage. By the end of this week the furnace will be installed and pumping down.
“Hermitage PA, June 22, 2020 – Solar Atmospheres of Western PA is currently installing a new rapid quenching vacuum furnace that will ultimately eliminate the need for costly helium while increasing production throughput. Solar Manufacturing’s 10 bar vacuum furnace, with a revolutionary cooling design, will mimic an older 2 bar Solar furnace in size. However, this new 48″ x 48″ x 96” deep 10 Bar furnace is equipped with a proven 600 HP blower designed motor, and it will outperform its older model by processing larger and heavier workloads with the use of nitrogen only.
“The difference in operating costs is a no brainer,” states President Bob Hill. “To marginally harden one 2000-pound high-speed tool steel roll die in our older 2 bar vacuum furnace, the use of light helium gas was a necessity. The prohibitive cost of a two atmosphere helium backfill was $1,065. Our new furnace will enable us to fully harden three 2000-pound roll dies at once using the more cost-effective process gas of nitrogen. In contrast the cost of a 10 atmosphere backfill of nitrogen will be only $89.” Hill predicts that with these increased efficiencies and savings, his normal ROI on a new piece of equipment will be significantly advanced. Once operational, Hill will author a technical paper with the actual cooling data derived from these similarly sized vacuum furnaces for the world to see.