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Cem-Wave Project

The Ceramic Matrix Composites revolution

Introducing an innovative microwave-based production process for Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) the CEM-WAVE project has the potential to revolutionise those energy-intensive industries planning their full shift to renewable sources.

Via a systemic and multidisciplinary approach, the CEM-WAVE project tests and demonstrates possibilities to reduce the production costs of ceramic matrix composites and establish new supply and value chains in the composites materials and manufacturing economy.

The key benefits of Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) over other materials includes high thermal resistance, hardness, corrosion resistance, light weight and non-magnetic in nature. Over the years, CMCs have gained significant importance in industrial applications over single phase ceramics and other materials, due to their peculiar physical properties.

Growing industrial demand for high temperature-resistant, low weight and density equipment is the primary factor driving the expansion of the global ceramic matrix composites market.

Spearheading the shift to renewable
energies within the heavy industry

Corrosive enviroments
Pushing for environmentally-friendly energy adaptation

Renewable energies, such as clean hydrogen, are naturally fluctuating, inconsistent and can generate extreme production conditions. The CEM-WAVE project recognizes the challenge and proposes a microwave-based technological solutions to solve it.

A clean answer for energy-intensive industries

To spearhead the shift to clean and renewable energies, heavy industry needs best-performing and energy efficient materials that can sustain harsh conditions, such as very high temperatures and corrosive environments. The CEM-WAVE project proposes the use of Ceramic Matrix Composites in harsh-conditions manufacturing settings.

Boosting circular economy principles by validating microwave technologies for the production of Ceramic Matrix Composites

Game-changing materials

Made of ceramic fibres embedded in a ceramic matrix and currently used in the aerospace sector, Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) are high-temperature and corrosive-resistant materials able to maintain excellent thermo-mechanical properties in extreme production conditions. Elevated manufacturing costs have kept CMCs off-limits to many industries so far.

Microwave technology

Through the use of Microwave-assisted Chemical Vapour Infiltration (MW-CVI) technologies, CMCs’ production costs can be sensibly contained, making CMCs a sustainable alternative, for example, to the currently employed Inconel/stainless steel alloys in steelmaking.

Artificial intelligence

By means of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-aided modelling research to predict materials’ behaviour, CEM-WAVE develops innovative joining and coating technologies to produce complex shaped components with improved thermo-mechanical properties, such as high temperature and corrosion resistance.

The Project Consortium and some data

Project partners  include seven academic and technology institutes with world-renowned expertise in Microwave-assisted Chemical Vapour Infiltration (MW-CVI) technologies processing of non-oxide and oxide Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs), encompassing the full range of process chain for CMCs.

Their know-how also covers experimental and numerical electromagnetic methods such as high-temperature dielectric characterization of CMC materials, thermo-mechanical and non-destructive testing for CMCs, micro/macro-scale modelling using AI-aided tools of CMCs, and advanced joining and integration technologies for CMCs, including testing and monitoring of the joined components.

Among the four heavy industry consortium members, we find a world leader in the steel and mining sectors, a leading supplier of microwave ovens for manufacturing and research purposes, an enterprise specialized in Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) processes and industrial equipment, and an expert in the development of innovative monitoring hardware and software solutions. Collating the capability of business and academia is the mastery of two more partners from the consultancy sector, respectively specialized in business results exploitation and environmental sustainability.


CEM-WAVE’s main objectives

Optimise the Microwave-assisted Chemical Vapour Infiltration (MW-CVI) technology to produce non-oxide and oxide-based CMCs, including coating and joining

Harness CMCs’ dielectric properties to optimise their use as sensors, both to determine the optimal MW-CVI processing conditions and to monitor their use in radial tube furnaces, in combination with infra-red imaging and electrical analysis

Build and validate a small-scale version of a CMC tube to display improved properties compared to current alternatives

Bring the solution to market, making it a long-term sustainable method and leading the application of circular economy principles in energy-intensive industries

CEM-WAVE’s impacts

CEM-WAVE-produced Ceramic Matrix Composites have the potential to improve energy efficiencies in future steelmaking production of up to 30%, with a reduction in costs ranging between 7 and 13%

Improved Energy Efficiencies

If steelmaking transitions to using CMCs produced by Microwave-assisted Chemical Vapour Infiltration (MW-CVI) in radiant tube furnaces, the sector’s CO2 emissions could be reduced up to 20%

Reduction in CO2 emissions

Using CEM-WAVE-produced CMCs is expected to enlarge the lifetime of radiant tube furnaces of up to 20% compared to the current average, which is between 4 and 8 years

Product lifetime extension

The demonstrator and other potential project applications

Technology concept

Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) have been so far extensively used as main materials in the transport sector, for example to produce elements in aircraft combustion engines, valve-trains, turbine blades, exhaust systems and cars braking systems (brake discs and clutches), and in the energy sector, where they have been employed as refractory materials in silicon foundry furnaces, energy reactors, gas burners and high pressure heat exchangers.

Using Microwave-assisted Chemical Vapour Infiltration (MW-CVI) technology, the CEM-WAVE project will develop a CMC-based component to build a small-scale innovative sensor-embedded tube, for use in radiant tube furnaces in the steelmaking industry. Beyond validating the microwave-assisted technology, the sensor-embedded CMC-based tube will provide a viable substitute to currently used Inconel/Stainless steel alloys.

The adoption of lightweight composites by the electrical vehicle manufacturers is increasing and expected to further boost the market for ceramic matrix composites in the near future. Given the increased efficiency and lifetime of CMCs compared to currently employed metallic alloys in radiant tube furnaces, new possibilities will open within the steelmaking industry, such as chances to use higher annealing temperatures and new processing chemistries.

CEM-WAVE newly established cost-opportunities for CMCs will enhance the competitiveness of CMC-based components, eventually enabling their wider deployment to almost all industrial lines and furthering both environmental and economic gains, in a win-win situation.


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