Ceramic Filters for Automotive Applications
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Powder Processing & Technology, LLC was presented with a ceramic mullite type material whose use was very unique in the refractories industry. The material was being manufactured in Europe and because of the unfavorable exchange rate at the time, was becoming prohibitively expensive to import into the United States.
So PPT was asked to duplicate this material and produce it in very large production quantities at a price competitive or better than the import price of the OEM material.
As usual, the first part of the program was to manufacture the material in pilot scale quantities. The problem was to locate and use North American raw materials that were competitively priced and could develop the exact quality of the finished product as the OEM material from Europe. This was not an easy task as it was determined there were at least 7 raw materials being used in the formulation with interactions between each.
Once knowledgeable about the general type of raw materials the OEM manufacturer was using, PPT was able to locate and procure a range of similar raw materials that had the possibility of producing a similar final product. The key was the pricing of the raw materials as a few pennies were critical to making this program a success.
While pilot scale quantities could not be sampled to the customer for actual testing due to the inability of our Innovative Materials Center spray dryer to produce the required particle size, pilot scale development was critical to develop the correct formulation. Refractory materials are typically pressed in a compacting die, and the part sintered at a high temperature to develop the needed density, porosity, strength, and size after sintering. Many iterations were needed in our Innovative Materials Center to duplicate all of these requirements and still be cost competitive.
Once we felt we had the correct formulation, it was now time to manufacture a several metric ton lot in our production equipment.
While our production spray dryer normally produces production at the rate of tens of thousands of pounds per day, it is adaptable to run a few thousand pounds of trial materials. This permits both PPT and the customer to produce true production materials in reasonable quantities at reasonable prices.
Several iterations were necessary, but PPT was able to very closely duplicate the OEM material.