In what way the employees of the Institute for Metal Physics helped themselves to produce unusual heater
At first this tape helped to fight a fire. HBRS – this was its name – is made of amorphous metal and has special properties. Main of which, at that time was high strength, but when the temperature rises, material becomes extremely fragile. Therefore, it was rather suitable for automatic firefighting systems: when heated HBRS membrane fell to pieces and firefighting matter erupted. Thus, it was possible to go without many additional devices, for instance, squibs.
What are the amorphous metals
If the metal is heated to a liquid state, and then very quickly – in a million degrees per second – to cool it, then you get a special substance. It will be metal that had no sufficient time to form a crystal lattice, and therefore it is close to glass by its structure. Due to the specifics of its production amorphous metals are obtained in the shape of thin tape. These substances have special properties – amorphous metals are solid and flexible, extremely corrosion-proof. Owing to their specific electromagnetic and other properties, amorphous metals are used in electrical equipment, microelectronics.
HBRS alloy was created by the employees of Kyiv city Institute for Metal Physics in 1987, for which it was awarded at the Soviet Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy. Invention was already being prepared to be implemented, scientists signed licensing agreement with the Latvian enterprise that had to make membranes from the tape, but then the Soviet Union collapsed. The customer disappeared.
For several years HBRS was forgotten. In the early 90s of the past century, when the wages were not paid throughout the years, many scientists were focused on their survival. Someone left science, someone moved abroad, and someone established enterprises producing specific goods.
The Institute for Metal Physics has not lost all its employees. In 2010 Ukraine started its state target program “Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials”, in which scientists studied the possibilities of application in practice of nanotechnologies. The Institute for Metal Physics was also the part of it, and scientists once again got down to work on “firefighting alloy”. While studying the properties of HBRS, they created new, modified alloy – KHBRS. This time scientists put more emphasis on its high resistance, almost like that of nichrome (widely used alloy for the heating elements).
But, if nichrome is usually represented in the form of thin filament heater with the small heat-dissipation area, then amorphous tape is much bigger – about 20 microns in thick and may be from one to three centimeters in width. In such a way the scientists from the Institute for Metal Physics convinced themselves that their invention could warm as good as common heaters, and even better in many instances.
This could be the end of this story and yet another state certificate of merit could gather dust with the rest honorary papers of scientists. But the employees decided to put to the test their invention in the form of ready-made products, this is how the heaters made of amorphous tape emerged in the Institute’s assembly hall. And “Melta” company, established by the employees of the Institute for Metal Physics, come to rescue. The enterprise produces special alloys for aircraft factories, as well as transformer cores, throttles and other high-tech equipment based on the inventions of the Institute. Moreover, “Melta” was the one, who manufactured the required amount of amorphous tape for heaters.
“The company is located nearby – in the building of the Institute. Many companies take lease of our premises. For instance, there is manufacturer of kevlar helmets, manufacturer of protective garment for soldiers, company engaged in treatment of vehicle bodies with anticorrosive material, there is enterprise maintaining worn turbines. Each of them faces with its specific problems and they turn to us for to get the pieces of advice and to solve their industrial problems, related to the materials and physical processes in them. There is even dental office within the premises of the Institute, in which missing teeth are replaced, and we may obtain information on the specificity and needs of new materials creation or their processing technologies for the dentistry. Such neighbourship helps a lot to the scientists – this is how they see better and realize the real-world problems that may be solved with their aid,” – explained Deputy Director for Scientific and Technological Work at the Institute for Metal Physics Vitaly Bevz.
Companies take lease of Institute’s premises, and this helps scientists to see and realize the real-world problems
Scientists could not but turn to “Malta” considering that their workfellows work in this company, and amorphous tape manufacturing technology is mastered by quite a few companies in several countries of the world, and it is the only company in Ukraine. Not each company is able to manufacture hi-tech inventions of scientists. “This is like borsch (beetroot soup): ingredients may be the same, but different housewives will have it cooked differently. Therefore, it is important not only to know the composition of alloy, but how to cast it too – adjustments improving the material are also needed during the casting process. For this reason the one, who designs alloy, and the one, who casts it, – are the same persons. Employees of the institute are engaged in manufacturing,” – Vitaly Bevz said.
“When we were establishing “Melta” we set the purposes and objectives of the enterprise that it implements the developments of the institutes of the Academy of Sciences, higher educational establishments, and other scientific institutions,” – said Chief Research Officer of “Melta” Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Viktor Nosenko, who is also the Head of Crystallization Department at the Institute. According to him, such organization of production is exactly what makes it possible for the scientists to introduce to the world what they invent.
When scientists become manufacturers, it helps to introduce to the world their inventions
Therefore, the Institute for Metal Physics concludes licensing agreements with “Melta” and gets royalties from the produced goods. In such a way KHBRS-tape that is being manufactured by the company started to generate profit to the scientific institution – hundreds of thousands of UAH. If “Melta” manufactures it – the institute will receive more.
Thus, in 2013 film-type tape heaters emerged in the back of seats of the assembly hall – they warmed not the air, but persons sitting in front of them too.
What does infrared heaters look like
Unlike traditional convection heaters, infrared heaters produce waves that do not heat air – the heat the surfaces. This is how the Sun heats the Earth. Since you do not need to heat the air, and person is warm under infrared rays. We may significantly save energy.
Employees of the Institute decided to keep on moving and to see whether such devices may be used in everyday life. They raised money, took up small loan and in consideration of 200 thous. UAH purchased old laminating machine and small quantity of equipment, with the aid of which we started to produce heaters: for the Institute, home, friends and for acquaintances. We obtained flexible panel with laminated KHBRS-tape inside.
Heaters were being sold like hot cakes. Many of those, who saw their operation, wanted to have the same. In increasing frequency persons called to the Institute and asked where tape heaters could be purchased. Scientists saw the demand and decided to launch production of “infrared heaters”. For this very reason in 2014 separate company – “Melta-Term” was established, premises were leased, heaters were certified and started to be manufactured for the sale.
The scientist assure that their company’s products have many advantages over the others. If widespread UFO also heats using the infrared rays, then Nosenko compares their influence with the harsh streams of sun shining on May, that are recommended by the doctors to be avoided. And heaters of “Melta-Term” operate in another band waves, and their influence is similar to the gentle sun shining on August, when you may sunbathe all the day long, scientist said.
With regard to the panel heaters, other manufacturers generally use carbon fiber or nichrome that have high heating temperatures on the element itself as a heating element. Amorphous tape of “Melta-Term” operates at “low” – up to 100ºC/212℉ – temperatures, does not overheat itself, it has vast heating area, which means that it is more efficient. Moreover, you can install heaters with no sweat, company co-founder Bevz said.
The first commercial batch of heaters was made by “Melta-Term” for one of the institutes of postgraduate education. It located in “Stalin-era building” having four-meter ceilings, where it was rather costly and hard enough to warm people using ordinary heaters. Then, “tape heaters” started to emerge in cafes, beauty salons, photo studios. Company does not invest plenty of money in the promotion of goods, and therefore heaters “promote themselves”: users recommend them to others.
“One shall not place wide margin in a country, where people have low-level earnings”
As yet the company manufactures a small amount of heaters – about 500 panels per month. And margin, placed by the scientists, is not high: 500-watt device having a price tag of 1,250 UAH brings a little more than 100 UAH. “We believe that one shall not place wide margin in a country, where people have low-level earnings. We do not pursue profit, rather – realization of personal potential,” – Vitaly Bevz explained.
To cut the prime cost of heaters, we shall increase production volumes. And for this purpose inventors are currently in the search of investor. However, they lay down demands to the potential partner. “If he just gives money, this will not help us a lot. We are physicists. Let the experts deal with logistics and marketing, otherwise we will come to a standstill, – Viktor Nosenko explained. – Investor that will best suit to us shall have a desire to warm himself and then to make money on heating of others. In fact, he will place a large order.”
Expectation of investors and the heating season does not prevent physicists from inventing of new goods. “By this fall we plan to manufacture the warming glass based on the amorphous tape. After all, glasses are the utmost source of heat losses,” – announced Vitaly Bevz.