Dr Szymon Kubal next to a molten steel ladle.
Dr Szymon Kubal next to a molten steel ladle.

Swansea University spin-out company Kubal-Wraith Ltd, based in the UK, has developed a laser-beam based technology which makes it possible to monitor in real time the chemical composition and temperature in molten metal furnaces.

Currently in steelmaking, production is halted while disposable probes are immersed into the molten metal to measure temperature and take samples, the company said.

‘We have been able to adapt and combine recent advances in refractory manufacturing and laser metrology to enable continuous monitoring with no break in production,’ said Dr Szymon Kubal, process technology specialist at Tata Steel UK, developer of the innovation and research fellow at Swansea University. ‘Our new technology allows a laser beam to be projected into a molten furnace through a refractory gas-swept channel (tuyère) in the furnace wall.

‘Previous attempts of laser measurement techniques have been thwarted because metallic accretions block the channel through which the laser is probing, rendering the devices unreliable,’ he added.

Kubal-Wraith says that the technology is suitable for steel plants and other metal making sectors such as aluminum, copper and nickel.

The technology has reportedly won the Materials Science Venture Prize awarded by The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers, a supporter of materials science education and research in the UK.

This story uses material from Swansea University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.