Flash Sintering (FS) is the application of a direct electric field via customized electrodes to a material body during the sintering process.
Under the application of electric fields the conventional sintering process changes to increase the kinetics of sintering processes. This accelerated process leads to a reduction of both furnace temperature and time, and as consequence, an overall decrease of energy consumption (and therefore cost).
A change in the properties of the fabricated material can also be achieved by Flash Sintering, thanks to the manipulation of the sintering mechanism and control over the sintering rate. An example of the properties that can be engineered includes grain size; this affects the density and microstructure of the material. FS creates an opportunity to develop new products, improve performance and increase profitability.
We have built an experienced team of experts around Flash Sintering, merging the multidisciplinary skills required to take the technology from laboratory to commercial scale. Similarly, our Flash Sintering facility is flexible in its ability to process ceramic pieces of varying sizes and shapes. In-situ analysis of the process, combined with iterative feedback from the electrical systems, provides much better control and feedback on the effect of the FS technology. The team and equipment are commercially focused, directly addressing your needs for the fastest route to solutions.
Flash Sintering has three specially constructed kilns for the Research and Development of FS in its journey to manufacturing. The unique split furnace is designed to allow the installation of customized electrode designs. Coupled to this we have a tube furnace, capable of refining the field parameters for materials that need to be sintered in a controlled atmosphere. Our 25 meter roller kiln is unique in its ability for process control and is designed to allow the re-engineering of the hot zones with FS Technology. In situ analysis of the process is available on all kilns.
Electroceramics are ceramic materials which are used in a wide variety of applications due to their electrical properties. One such application is in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC). An important component of SOFC is the interconnect, which consists of a ceramic layer on a metal substrate. A high temperature is required to densify the ceramic layer, but the metal substrate cannot be sintered at such temperatures, creating a problem. To overcome this, FS has been used to produce dense ceramic layer at lower sintering temperatures at which the metal substrate is still stable. Illustrated below are SEM images of the microstructure.