IntraMicron has the technology to sinter fine-structured porous media including microfibrous media and other nonwovens that are made of metal, alloys, ceramics (including glass), and polymers.
The sintering process is typically carried out in two steps: binder removal and high temperature sintering. Binder removal, if necessary, occurs in an oxygen-lean environment, while the gas-phase atmosphere for the sintering step depends on the nature of the material being sintered. Glass, ceramic, and polymer media are typically sintered in air, while sintering metal media typically requires a hydrogen containing-atmosphere with a hydrogen partial pressure 5 times that of water. The water in the gas phase typically arises from residual binder and surface metal oxides.
The application of high temperature during the sintering step forms a fused network from the material being sintered. For metal microfibrous media, the metal fibers become fused at their contact points, producing a rigid structure. Metal microfibrous media sintering is typically carried out using a continuous belt furnace for large batches of media. For small batches of media or media with large thickness, special operations can be prepared in a batch mode in a high temperature furnace. During the sintering process, catalyst/sorbent support materials, if any, can be interwoven or interlocked in this network of metal fibers, allowing the structural rigidity to be retained, while catalytic or sorptive activity is added. The process surrounding the sintering and formation of microfibrous entrapped catalysts and sorbents has been developed to the point where most catalytic and sorptive materials can be entrapped in the structure without contamination or structural degradation.
The conditions used during the sintering process have a significant impact on the final properties of the media. IntraMicron's proprietary sintering methods have been developed to the point where the structure and properties of the final product can be controlled to produce the desired structure and performance. For example, the thermal and electrical conductivity of metal microfibrous media can be tailored by adjusting sintering parameters.