Our R&D Facilities
Our doors are open to a state-of-the-art Research & Development facility needed to increase the pace of innovation and meet the changing demands of the modern world.
The new R&D Centre, at our Bromborough site in UK, officially opened on 5th June 2008. It has a brand new laboratory for analytical work and three pilot lines for developing the production process for high temperature fibres up to the point where it can be transferred to one of the main production plants. A very important new facility is the test kiln which can be used for testing fire protection materials or measuring the performance of different types of furnace lining construction under 100% realistic conditions.
The Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials dedication to innovation and the development of high temperature insulation is demonstrated fully by the investment in this new R&D Centre.
The ability to perform tests “in-house” brings expertise and product development at a much faster rate than could be achieved by only using external laboratories. The Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials Research & Development facility now houses a new purpose designed gas-fired kiln which has the ability to test all forms of furnace wall/roof construction and to measure resulting cold face temperatures. With the fast heating capability required for performing the three standard fire tests (cellulosic, hydrocarbon and RWS - tunnel fire up to 1350°C), we are better able to obtain rapid results on which to base further development.
Being able to provide our customers with fast and accurate results accelerates progress in the development of better insulation systems.
New state-of the art X-ray instrumentation enables us to produce rapid analysis of chemical composition and crystal structure.
Thermal conductivity measurement is basic to the development of all insulation materials. For that reason, Thermal Ceramics R&D has developed an advanced version of the ASTM C201 thermal conductivity measurement system. This is used on a routine basis for testing the properties of all refractory insulation materials: IFB, castables, blanket etc. This design has been so successful that the Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials R&D has manufactured additional units to be located at other sites around the World.
Mechanical testing facilities are available to test samples in tension and compression, at room temperature or when heated in a furnace. Dilatometry is also used on a regular basis.
The Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials were the pioneers of today’s bio-soluble fibre products and have maintained that lead right up to the present day. Of the many developments required to support this programme, Thermal Ceramics R&D developed both static and dynamic solubility tests, which are important tools used in the development of all new fibres.
This is a quick & simple test that is used to screen candidate fibre compositions & look at unknown fibres from the field. Basically, a small sample of fibre is held at 37°C (body temperature) for 24hrs in a simulated body fluid. The solution is decanted & analysed for elements that have been leached from the fibre. The more Biosoluble the fibre, the higher the level of materials leached from the fibre sample. The results are recorded as ppm in the solution.
Dynamic Flow Test
This is a long term carefully controlled test that establishes more accurately the long term Biosolubility of a fibre & is usually used for testing commercially available fibres or candidates for commercialisation. This test is also conducted at 37°C, but the test lasts for 3 weeks. In this test the same simulated body fluid is pumped very slowly over a sample of fibre which has been normalised to its surface area. Thus, fresh solution is always presented to the sample. The solution is collected & analysed twice weekly for the concentration of elements leached from the fibre sample. Thus, we have a known surface area, known flow rate & known leachant concentration. All these components are put together to give a dissolution rate in ng/cm²hr which only depends upon the fibre composition. This is very important for comparing fibre types. Additionally, it is easy to see if dissolution of the sample is uniform over the full 3 week period, which is especially important for a Low Biopersistent fibre. This dissolution rate is a measure of the Biosolubility of the fibre.
These 2 tests are an essential component in the Development of Biosoluble fibres & ensuring that what we produce today is truly Biosoluble.
The materials used in creating thermal insulation depend on fine fibres and minute pores to give them their special insulating characteristics. Naturally, the Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials R&D has invested heavily in microscopy to ensure the best facilities for these important aspects. R&D operates both electron and optical microscopy, in both cases automated image analysis is available for the analysis of fibres and pores. The counting of fibres to WHO protocol is also a key expertise.
The department is equipped with a Malvern Instruments system that uses a PC controlled optical microscope with an automated sample stage. This instrument can be set to acquire tens of thousands of images of particles (usually fibres) from a specific sample, these images are then analysed using a pre-programmed routine to give an accurate measurement of the size distribution of the particles. The instrument can also be used as a conventional optical microscope to examine samples on a micron scale.
The Topcon Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) in the department is used to examine samples down to a nanometer scale. The high resolution allows observations to be made of features on the surface of fibres, this is particularly useful to aid understanding of the thermal history and reactivity of a sample. The electron microscope also has the capacity to automatically collect images for measurement of particle dimension on a smaller scale than the optical microscope. In addition to imaging the SEM also has an Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis capability, allowing the measurement of the chemical composition of a particular region (or map of a larger area) of a sample to a resolution of around 1 micron.
The team at Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials R&D is well equipped to create the next generation of fibre products. Apart from the laboratory facilities, which are second to none, the R&D Centre is equipped with four pilot lines allowing all types of fibre manufacturing to be simulated and scaled up during development without the need to disrupt production.
Small samples for H&S evaluation as well as large samples for customer trials can all be produced during the development stage.
The people and facilities at the Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials R&D are connected closely to the business as a whole and to the wider market by a Project Management process. This includes all aspects of product development from market size analysis through to product launch and to follow up at customer sites. All departments of the Thermal Ceramics business of Morgan Advanced Materials are involved in the product development process through the project management structure. R&D is connected to the business.