11 Myths of Infrared

06 May, 2010

  1. Infrared energy can be harmful – wrong. Infrared energy is naturally occurring from the sun, travels to the earth in wavelengths and is absorbed by all objects. Every object emits and absorbs infrared naturally without harmful effects.
  2. Infrared radiation is heat – wrong. Infrared radiation is electromagnetic energy that can be used to generate heat.
  3. An Infrared System is only concerned with heating– wrong. There are three considerations when dealing with infrared: (1) Absorption (2) Reflection (3) Transmission. Infrared systems emit electromagnetic energy. An infrared emitter produces wavelengths with mechanical properties which have to be absorbed, transmitted or reflected. An effective infrared system will deal with these 3 issues as efficiently as possible.
  4. To control temperature is to adequately control an infrared emitter – wrong. Radiation is generated by source temperature. The adjustment of temperature changes the infrared wavelength hence the reason systems operate within a waveband output and not a wavelength output. 
  5. Infrared Absorption of a target material is dictated by a single spectral analysis at ambient e.g. 20degC – wrong. The spectral analysis and spectral absorption characteristics change as the target material temperature changes. It is therefore important to consider the use of waveband rather than wavelength to ensure the infrared output from an emitter or system is capable of meeting the spectral absorption characteristics of the material.
  6. Emitters can be set at full values without thermocouple watch control – wrong. There is a significant difference between starting the emitters (heaters) at an ambient temperature e.g. 20degC and starting emitters in an ambient temperature of 400degC. Turning on the heater at higher ambient values could result in burn out of the emitter.
  7. The design and manufacture of Infrared ovens, oven controls and the application variables are separate, independent, components of an infrared system – wrong. All of these are important elements/components, and are essential to each other in order to create effective and successful heat work process.
  8. Temperature control systems can typically set the performance of infrared systems – wrong. This method of operation is a poor way to control radiation because temperature and % control are not developed with radiation in mind. However, these are the current and typical choices available - but should be used advisedly. 
  9. Infrared emitters can be used like furnace elements – wrong. The materials used to build effective infrared emitters do not lend themselves to being used in a furnace like environment. Transmission, absorption, reflection and the resulting directional qualities imparted are not being adequately dealt with which will lead to heat up and burn out of the emitters if used in a furnace like capacity.
  10. Radiation can be treated in a similar fashion to conduction and convection – wrong. Under no circumstances are conduction and convection comparable to radiation in any way.  These are three separate methods of heat-transfer that do not relate to one another.  
  11. Environmental conditions such as weather have no impact on the use of Infrared – wrong. These have a huge impact. The conditions of the surroundings will have a big effect on the transfer of infrared radiation e.g. humidity.
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