Thermal energy is used in mechanical systems that treat materials. Thermal processes support the manufacturing of a wide variety of commercial and consumer goods.
While the range of applications for thermal energy are vast, there are several key areas where this type of industrial process heat is most commonly used. This page will discuss applications for thermal energy across a broad spectrum of industries.
Air Make-up Systems
Used in areas with exhaust fans and hoods—such as commercial kitchens—make-up air systems bring in outside air and heat it to appropriate indoor temperatures to take the place of air removed by exhaust equipment.
These systems prepare large and small surfaces for paint and coatings to properly adhere, dry, and/or cure the finish. Finishing systems may include components that require significant heat, such as:
- Dry off ovens
- Bake ovens
- Infrared ovens
- Thermal oxidizers
Certain processes in the automotive industry require thermal heat for assembly and completion, such as:
- Paint lines
- Installation of brake pads and shoes
- Flocking ovens
Industrial heat treatments are used to change the physical properties of metal and make it more workable. Heat treating can also harden the surface of softer metals to make them more durable and resistant to corrosion. Heat treating in used in multiple industries, but some of the most common uses are:
- Aircraft components
- Automotive components
- Metal spring products
As a flexible and lightweight metal, aluminum is easy to work with and popular for many types of parts, components, and products. Heat can be used for:
Precious Metal Refining
Thermal heat is vital for the extraction and purification of the precious metals used in electronic components, including:
With the use of heat, plastics of all types can be shaped into manufactured goods. Examples of processes used with plastics include:
- Roto molding
- Flame treating
- Cup manufacturing
Many types of polymers must be cured using moderate heat before they can be integrated into products. Polymer chains are crossed-linked through a hardening process facilitated by the use of high-temperature resins, rods, chemicals, or other fluids.
This type of curing is usually reserved for coatings or adhesives that will be exposed to rugged operating conditions, such as inclement weather, extreme temperatures, or other environmental factors that might require advanced corrosion, degradation, or erosion resistances. Examples include:
- Motor and transformer windings
- Rubber products
- Engineered materials (silicon, sapphire, sintered metal, porcelain)
Ready Mix Concrete
For some applications where Ready Mix Concrete is used—especially in cold weather— temperatures must be raised so the material can properly react and cure. Thermal energy can be used to create hot water or steam for this purpose.
The printing industry requires industrial heat for several processes, including:
- Flexible packaging
- Paper coating
Hot-dip processes submerge iron or steel in molten zinc. Dip tanks and kettles use thermal heat to keep the zinc at required temperatures.
Thermal Application Support from ProTherm
For more information about thermal applications in manufacturing and how ProTherm can help design, install, and maintain the required systems, please contact us.