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Author: Subject: Nichrome furnace.
TheMrbunGee
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Nichrome furnace.

So I have been busy few days now trying to build a furnace from old stove nichrome ribbon.

i had a few tries connecting NiCr directly to mains and I got few moments of glory, but I always end up overheating NiCr and ruining the furnace.

I tried dimmer switch, but it won’t go for long, because it is rated for only 400w.

Is there any suitable solution for not overheating the element? I mean without pricy, hard to come by power supplies?
Loptr
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Talking about using easy to come by equipment there is a project on YT called the "Scariac". Its a take on a variac using common components, salt, and a jug of water.... a neat idea, really.

They also have higher wattage dimmer switches.

[Edited on 28-7-2016 by Loptr]
TheMrbunGee
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 Quote: Originally posted by Loptr Talking about using easy to come by equipment there is a project on YT called the "Scariac". Its a take on a variac using common components, salt, and a jug of water.... a neat idea, really. They also have higher wattage dimmer switches. [Edited on 28-7-2016 by Loptr]

OMG, I had seen that video, I forgot about it! I will try to get that work! Thanks!

That wont help, I was able to heat the furnace for about 2 minutes and a liter of water started to boil.

[Edited on 28-7-2016 by TheMrbunGee]
careysub
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The problem with furnace power supplies using the salt water rheostat for power control is that 80% or so of you power goes into boiling the water. 20% efficiency has me looking for other options.
Fulmen
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Basically you're trying to fix a poorly constructed heating coil. Three are resources out there for designing a good coil. It's not just about ohms law, you also have to consider the power density. Basically you need more wire, more mass to dissipate the power.

As for fixing your current predicament without redesigning the coil, you need a method for reducing the current. A variac (or fixed step-down transformer) is probably the best and simplest solution, an inductive ballast would also work. Resistive ballasts works in a pinch, but that heat will be wasted and most likely cause practical problems.
Another option would be power regulation by fast switching. I suspect you can use solid state relays for this, if so it just needs a simple timer circuit to drive it.

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subsecret
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Kanthal A1 kiln heating coil would be great for this; they're usually made in lengths suitable for 240 volts (here in the US), so whether you have 220/120/240 you'll be able to get something to work. Fulmen's point of switching the power input on and off is a good one. It doesn't even have to be too fast...

Bimetalic car blinker thing (off an older car) in series with a varistor to change current flow, thus changing how fast the bimetal heats up. I think you could connect this little setup in series with the "control" side of a relay. It would be good to use a beefy bimetalic setup and strong resistor so that the relay affects it a little less. I have little experience with electronics, but that's an idea; definitely do some more research before trying this.

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markx
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 Quote: Originally posted by TheMrbunGee I tried dimmer switch, but it won’t go for long, because it is rated for only 400w. Is there any suitable solution for not overheating the element? I mean without pricy, hard to come by power supplies?

Variacs and salt water resistors are not a very civilized option for controlling AC power these days. It is also worth to mention that the safety acpect of these devices is ranking quite low. As an alternative there are dirt cheap and efficient SCR regulators available that are excellent for the job.
For example 2000W:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-power-2000W-220V-SCR-Voltage-Re...

4000W:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-Power-4000W-220V-SCR-Voltage-Re...

10000W:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/10000W-220V-SCR-Super-Power-Regulato...

I suspect there are even larger ones available for higher power, but I think the 10kW one shall mostly suffice for an amateur furnace. You can also scan on Aliexpress....perhaps find better price and broader selection.

If you need feedback and temperature control then consider the following set of equipment:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Digital-PID-Temperature-controller-D...

A rather straight forward and ready to use solution for an efficient AC furnace temp control.

[Edited on 29-7-2016 by markx]

Exact science is a figment of imagination.......
Fulmen
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 Quote: Originally posted by markx As an alternative there are dirt cheap and efficient SCR regulators available that are excellent for the job.

Excellent idea, I forgot about those.

We're not banging rocks together here. We know how to put a man back together.
TheMrbunGee
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Quote: Originally posted by markx
 Quote: Originally posted by TheMrbunGee I tried dimmer switch, but it won’t go for long, because it is rated for only 400w. Is there any suitable solution for not overheating the element? I mean without pricy, hard to come by power supplies?

Variacs and salt water resistors are not a very civilized option for controlling AC power these days. It is also worth to mention that the safety acpect of these devices is ranking quite low. As an alternative there are dirt cheap and efficient SCR regulators available that are excellent for the job.
For example 2000W:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-power-2000W-220V-SCR-Voltage-Re...

4000W:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-Power-4000W-220V-SCR-Voltage-Re...

10000W:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/10000W-220V-SCR-Super-Power-Regulato...

I suspect there are even larger ones available for higher power, but I think the 10kW one shall mostly suffice for an amateur furnace. You can also scan on Aliexpress....perhaps find better price and broader selection.

If you need feedback and temperature control then consider the following set of equipment:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Digital-PID-Temperature-controller-D...

A rather straight forward and ready to use solution for an efficient AC furnace temp control.

[Edited on 29-7-2016 by markx]

Ordered 4kW one. It will do for starters! My furnace is not big - 70*100*100mm Element has 16.something ohm rezistance, what gives 3kW power.
careysub
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I was just searching on "kiln" on CraigsList iin my area and was amazed at how many ceramic kilns at a fraction of the price of a new one were listed.

This has me thinking about my own future plans...

Sure, you will spend at least a few hundred on such a second-hand kiln (unless you get a really, really good deal - not impossible if you are patient and persistent I expect), but it should be a highly capable furnace (assuming it works at all). Look for a "cone 10" model for the maximum possible temperature, which is rated for 1300 C.
careysub
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Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen
 Quote: Originally posted by markx As an alternative there are dirt cheap and efficient SCR regulators available that are excellent for the job.

Excellent idea, I forgot about those.

Is there any advantage in a variac over one of these thyrisistor regulators? Variacs can do some step up, I know, (but not all do) but lets say you have 220 V and don't care about that.
TheMrbunGee
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Quote: Originally posted by careysub
Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen
 Quote: Originally posted by markx As an alternative there are dirt cheap and efficient SCR regulators available that are excellent for the job.

Excellent idea, I forgot about those.

Is there any advantage in a variac over one of these thyrisistor regulators? Variacs can do some step up, I know, (but not all do) but lets say you have 220 V and don't care about that.

I have 220V
Fulmen
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Not really.furnace

We're not banging rocks together here. We know how to put a man back together.
WGTR
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 Quote: Originally posted by TheMrbunGee Ordered 4kW one. It will do for starters! My furnace is not big - 70*100*100mm Element has 16.something ohm rezistance, what gives 3kW power.

I think you're using almost 10 times too much power for this amount of volume, assuming the use of insulative firebrick. My own kiln achieved about 1200°C after an hour at 400-500 watts. I used 15' of Kanthal A-1 24 AWG resistance wire at 120V. This length of wire costs about $2-3. Fulmen International Hazard Posts: 1346 Registered: 24-9-2005 Member Is Offline Mood: Bored I agree, I'm feeding a larger furnace (90x180x250mm) with 900W, it reaches 850° in 3 hours. I actually wired it with both 1500W and a 2000W elements as I assumed I would need more power, but ended up running them in series. Figured a the gentle heating would wear less on the refractories, and the reduced load on the elements should also increase the life span. We're not banging rocks together here. We know how to put a man back together. byko3y International Hazard Posts: 721 Registered: 16-3-2015 Member Is Offline Mood: dooM High power is good for fast start, but as elements of your furnace become hotter, you need to lower the power. All commercial furnaces have some kind of thermal regulator that turns off the power if some temperature is reached. This way heating element never overheats. In my reagion there's sold some cheap 2kW power regulators and also temperature controllers, for 50-100$ some really advanced controller can be build.
TheMrbunGee
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Quote: Originally posted by WGTR
 Quote: Originally posted by TheMrbunGee Ordered 4kW one. It will do for starters! My furnace is not big - 70*100*100mm Element has 16.something ohm rezistance, what gives 3kW power.

I think you're using almost 10 times too much power for this amount of volume, assuming the use of firebrick. My own kiln achieved about 1200°C after an hour at 400-500 watts. I used 15' of Kanthal A-1 24 AWG resistance wire at 120V. This length of wire costs about \$2-3.

on early prototypes I got to 1100°C in 2 minutes, but I was not using firebrick but some kind of much more isolative stuff (not sure what is it.) because of lack of any power control after 5 minutes it reached about 1400°C and the nichrome melted..

Now I am making inner walls from termoconcrete (rated for at least 1400°C)

I would like to use less power, but it was not an option, because the nichrome went straight to mains.

Melgar
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Use a photoresistor in series with a relay. When it starts to glow bright enough to trigger the photoresistor, it'll shut off. You can also have it charge a capacitor that's connected to the gate of a transistor (choose a capacitor such that it'll discharge internally fast enough so you don't need to wire in a resistor to do that) so that it doesn't turn on and off very quickly, but that probably wouldn't be necessary. You can vary the aperture on the photoresistor so that it takes more or less light to trigger it. You can either turn off that circuitry manually when it gets hot enough, or figure out some way to do it automatically.

This would work well because it detects the actual problem, (overheating) as opposed to using some arbitrary means of detecting it.

[Edited on 8/15/16 by Melgar]
MrHomeScientist
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 Quote: Originally posted by markx If you need feedback and temperature control then consider the following set of equipment: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Digital-PID-Temperature-controller-D... A rather straight forward and ready to use solution for an efficient AC furnace temp control.

Would something like that be suitable for a heating mantle controller? I have a mantle but no way to plug it in!
markx
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 Quote: Originally posted by MrHomeScientist Would something like that be suitable for a heating mantle controller? I have a mantle but no way to plug it in!

Yes, of course...it will do excellent as a heating mantle control. You can have the feedback sensor installed in the mantle or directly in the environment (flask, reactor chamber etc.) that the temperature needs to be controlled in. The controller can work in PID mode with feedback or just like a SCR regulator without any feedback.
I've found this set of equipment to be the most versatile tool ever when any kind of temp control is required. I have used it to execute temperature control for soldering irons, melting point apparatus, various reactors, sous vide water bath, cold smoke generator, heat mantles and basically any other temperature related device that operates on 220 mains voltage.

Exact science is a figment of imagination.......

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Special topics » Technochemistry » Nichrome furnace. Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues   » Detritus   » Test Forum