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Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research

Vol. 66, February 2007, pp. 135-140

Design and construction of an electrical furnace to fire ceramic product

Ramazan Bayindir*
Gazi University, Faculty of Technical Education, Department of Electrical Education, 06500, Besevler Ankara/Turkey
Received 17 November 2005; revised 21 September 2006; accepted 26 September 2006

An electrical furnace firing the ceramic products has been designed and its automatic control has been implemented.
Furnace (100x50x50 cm) may be used to fire even small ceramic products such as trinkets. PLC has been used for the
automation of the system. The heat from the furnace has been measured by means of thermocouples and has been
transferred to the PLC by analog module and the heat of furnace has been controlled according to the obtained heat values.
Besides, required heat degree and the heat in the furnace have been traced on the screen of the control panel. The sample
products fired in the furnace proved that the system operated successfully without problem.

Keywords: Automation, Ceramic, Electrical furnace, Industrial automation, PLC

Introduction button, can directly be connected to the input, driver

Firing is the most important process in ceramic elements of control circuit such as contactor and
production. Primary factors1-6 that affect firing time solenoid valve can be directly connected to the
are: i) Type of the ceramic; ii) Frequency of loading output19.
the furnace; iii) Thickness of material; iv) In this study, an electrically fired furnace, controlled
Homogeneity of heat in the furnace; and v) Furnace by PLC, has been developed to fire ceramic giftware.
capacity. Precise control of process temperature has
become increasingly important in today’s Materials and Methods
semiconductor industry7-9. Moon & Lee10 proposed a Control of System Equipment
hybrid algorithm with fuzzy system and conventional PLC based programmable electric furnace control
PI control for the temperature control of TV glass unit application hardware contains: i) PLC module; ii)
furnace. Radakovic et al11 presented an application Analog module; and iii) K-type thermocouple.
result of a fuzzy controller of temperature and its rate Siemens PLC S7-200 module, which has 14 digital
of change in resistance chamber furnaces. Banerjee et input/10 digital output addresses with CPU 224
al12 proposed a control strategy to simultaneously sample (14*DI 24 V DC/10*DO 24 V DC) is
reduce the fuel consumption and minimize the preferred because it is economical and easy in use.
deviations of the instantaneous load temperature from STEP 7 –Micro/Win 32 programmer was used as
prescribed values during a heat treatment process. software. Statement List Editor (STL) and Ladder
Different control algorithms (PI, PID, Fuzzy, Neural Diagram (LAD) were used as language of
controller) have been used for temperature control in programming (memory, 4096 words). Software,
furnaces1,13-16. Most widely used applications area of which is required to work PLC, was prepared on
programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are the control computer and was loaded on PLC by RS 232-RS 485
circuits of industrial automation systems, which PC/PPI cable. While the prepared program is loading
includes elements such as auxiliary relay, contactor, on PLC from computer, the most important point is
and time relay and counter17. Control system with that the baud rate between PLC and the computer
PLC supersedes these kinds of circuits18,19. PLCs are must be appropriate to switch setup on the RS 232-RS
equipped with special input output units appropriate 485 PC/PPI cable. PLC output (24 V DC) terminal
to direct usage in industrial automation systems. The was connected to the relay output. The control of
elements, which carry to valuable logic information resistances was ensured by the connection between
such as pressure, level, temperature sensors and contactor and relay contacts (Fig. 1).
____________ Each part of input output modules of PLC express

Fig. 1 PLC connection circuit

K-type thermocouple, used in the study, produces

voltages (0 - 50 mV) according to temperature. For
this reason, the configuration on the analog module
was carefully adjusted to read exact and correct
temperature values. Each 0.04 mV meet 1°C
temperature. Ladder diagram belonged to the
program, in which the process occurs.
Design of Furnace
Elements used in furnace (Fig. 2) are: i) 6 unit
60x105x5 cm insulated brick (800°C); ii) 6 unit
60x105x5 cm insulated brick (1100°C); iii) 5 unit
60x105x5 cm insulated brick (1260°C); iv) Adhesive
material that resists the heat; v) Ceramic fibers;
vi) 3-unit Kanthal DSD resistance (1 mm diam, 26 m
Fig. 2 Designed furnace long, 213 g); vii) 3x1000 W resistance; viii) 3
porcelain (3.4 diam, 80 cm long); ix) 1 K-typed
a digital data. The addresses in the part of input Nickel chrome-Nickel thermocouple; and x) sheet
determine style of working and address in output iron (0.2 mm) and iron profile (4x4 cm) required for
control the working of furnace. The digital data in furnace case. Insulation in furnace was performed
these steps are used for PLC software. In this study, insulated bricks at 800°C, 1000°C, and 1260°C. The
12-bit system was used for analog modules (A-D). surface, in which the body and cover combine, was
EM 235 module works with 12-bit system and four isolated by insulation of ceramic fibers (15 cm width).
analog sensors can be connected to its input. Analog Thus, a furnace, which works with 3000 W, 380 volt
data are processed, then transformed into digital data, and has the capacity to raise heat of furnace to 800°C,
and are assigned to PLC as digital data. The analog was proposed.
signals cannot directly be read by PLC, which senses
only logic signals. Analog module is required to sense Determination of Furnace Power
analog signals by PLC. Thermocouple produces To determine power of furnaces (Fig. 3), Curve 1
voltage related to the heat changes. As a result, presents values of power for middle and high
voltage obtained according to the increase in heat is temperatures, which can be used for round and
transferred to the PLC. When welded point is heated, continue furnaces at the same time. Curve 2 shows
the voltage occurs. The magnitude of this measured values of power of ceramic furnaces whose heat
voltage in milivolts20. reaches to 1000°C. Curves 3, 4 and 5 show values of

power of blotting furnaces whose heat reach to 300°C. of furnace intersect, gives power of furnace. For
Point, at which value of heat of furnace and capacity

proposed furnace (capacity, 70x20x20 cm or 28 dm3),

value of heat of furnace is 800°C. Power21 of furnace
comes approx 3 kW.
Calculation of Resistance
Power (W/cm2) consumed on the surface of unit
directly depends on the following points: a) Diam and
length of the resistant element (as W/cm2 increases,
diam of wire and length decreases); b) As W/cm2
grows, heat of wire increases, but for each size of
W/cm2, the calorie that was given to the environment
is fixed; and c) As the size of W/cm2 increases,
durability of wire decreases. Power that is loaded on
the surface of unit in a furnace with 800°C for
Kanthal DSD wire must become approx 3.3 W/cm2
(Fig. 4).
The calculation of used wire is as follows: The
power for a phase = 1000 Watt; When looked at Ct
for DSD-typed of wire in 800°C, it is 1.06 (Table 1);
Total resistance (Rt)= V2/P = 3802/3000 = 48.1Ω; and
Fig. 3 Determination of furnace power resistance at 20°C (R20) is

R20 = Rt/Ct = 45.2Ω.

where cm 2 /Ω = P/p* R20 = 20.1, resistance =

1.72 Ω/m, weight = 8.20 g/m by using Kanthal
handbook22, required length of wire for 3 phase (L) =
3*R20/1.72 = 78.4 m, required weight of wire (G) =
78.4 * 8.20 = 639 g, and required weight of wire for
one phase is 213 g.
Operation of Furnace
In control of furnace, maximum value of heat
reaches in three steps: i) Gradual highness in the
furnace; ii) Increase in time of desired value of heat;
and iii) Processing time of waiting in the program.
For 100°C, required highness time is 30 min.

For 1 °C , X = 3 * 1/100 = 0.3 min =18 sec.

After that, 0.3 min is multiplied by 600 in order to

make PLC perceive this value in correct way. There is
no counter of time for seconds in PLC. For this reason
the equivalence type of 1 minute is the number of
The PT value of counter of time used in the
program is written 0 for minimum and 32767 for
maximum, which is equal to 54.6 min. In other words,
the values, which are equal to 1°C, increase in
Fig. 4 Surface loads suggested in accordance with correlation of
54.6 min, can be entered. Thus, for an increase of
the heat of furnace

100°C, 5460 min (91 h or 3.8 days) can be written as The PLC program runs and the furnace operate with
maximum. Range of time increase or decrease related entered values. If the demanded and actual values are
to each increment or decrement of temperature value. equal, the furnace operates and then stops when
When the operation starts, the PLC and TDA200 required. If the demanded values and actual values are

Fig. 5 Flow chart of PLC program

operator panel automatically set as demanded not equal, the program returns to operate the furnace
configuration (Fig. 5). Then user enters temperature, up to meet the demanded values.
increasing time and waiting time values in three steps.

Table 1 Ct coefficient for Kanthal DSD-typed of wire

°C 20 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200

Kanthal DSD Ct 1.00 1.00 1.01 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.07 1.07 1.08
Kanthal A-1 Ct 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.02 1.03 1.03 1.04 1.04 1.04

Fig. 6 Ladder diagram of main program

The value of PT, which is calculated in accordance 200 display and the value is entered in minute about
with entered values, is written in the section of PT of in how much it gets to this value of heat. If waiting is
T101 time counter (Fig. 6). Thus the time counter of necessary in this heat, the time of waiting is entered as
T101 produces pals in determined time. The value, second time. Secondly, the value of heat is entered
whose increase was required, is written in the section and the desired time to make it reach to this value is
of PV of C1 counter and when C1 counter reaches to entered. As it occurs in the first step, the time of
this value, it works the situation of waiting. The time waiting is entered if it is required. Finally, the
of waiting is written in the section of PT of T102 time processes are repeated for 780 °C in third step.
counter. T102 time counter activates M1.1 relay at the The furnace has been tested under no load and
end of determined time and the secondly entered loaded conditions. The reach time to the demanded
values are taken into consideration and the new values temperature has been measured for each condition
are calculated. These values are transformed into (Fig. 7). The reach time for no load condition has
required places of the program. The program been found 20 min where the reach time for loaded
gradually continues to work in this way. After the condition is 30 min. The reach time in loaded
values are entered from the control panel in order to condition takes more time because of physico-
start the program, either press F1 button chemical reactions23 (dehydration, decomposition,
(F2 in emergency) in the panel or the signal is given combustion and reaction during the fired state).
to I0.0 input of PLC.
Efficiency of furnace (power, 3000 watts; heating
Results and Discussion time, 30 min) has been calculated as:
An experiment consisting three steps temperature
and time values has been implemented. The first Q in =0,24* P * t
required value of heat is entered by the help of TD

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