Volume 21, number 2, june 2007

The SUNKISS CATHERM: a new natural gas technology for the Québec market!

Gaz de France, in partnership with SUNKISS, has developed a new catalytic infrared gas burner technology called CATHERM.

Gaz Métro and Gaz de France mandated Natural Gas Technologies Centre (NGTC) to validate this technology’s performance and confirm the relevance of importing it to Québec with the aim of capturing new gas markets. Ayotte Technogaz, North American distributor of this technology, made a major contribution to this project’s success.

CATHERMs are catalytic combustion panels, which allow a reaction at a lower temperature than conventional combustion. Combustion takes place on a catalyst integrated into a ceramic honey­comb support. This gives off radiation more appropriate to the absorption spectrum of the paint covering various products. The new CATHERM has a catalyst formulation allowing greater radiant intensity than previous generations.

There are two versions of CATHERM catalytic burners, airtight or direct. The airtight burner is covered with a window which prevents combustion gases from migrating into the environment where the components are dried.

Tests that produce results

Measurements were performed at Sablex in Trois-Rivières. This company specializes in coating to order of metal products of all kinds of shapes, dimensions and materials, with various types of finishes.

Car gas tank flap

The direct version of the CATHERMs was tested at Sablex. A powdered paint coating was applied to an automobile gas tank flap.

The results showed a 12-minute curing time for a gas tank flap. This is a considerable reduction compared to open air drying, which can take 14 hours, and convective (pulsed air) drying, which can take about one hour. The burner’s radiant output is 57%, very close to the theoretical limit (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. CATHERM performance compared to other types of radiant panels

For the industry, this reduced drying time means increased production and reduced energy consumption. Moreover, a superior quality coating was obtained according to Sablex, allowing it to stand out from its competitors.

To summarize, here are a few advantages of radiant panels:

  • Reduced curing time;
  • Higher radiant flux;
  • High radiant output (radiant power/total power);
  • Emitted wavelength adapted to the absorbing products;
  • Airtight combustion when required, since the combustion gas fumes are not in contact with the coating to be cured.

This is yet another productive application offered by natural gas!

Jean-François Bond, Eng, Ph.D.
Research Engineer

Marc Beauchemin, Eng.
Manager, Technological Development
Gaz Métro