A group of companies including EGO Elektro-Gerätebau GmbH, Huber+Suhner, ITW, NXP Semiconductors, Rogers Corporation and Whirlpool R&D (an affiliate company of Whirlpool Corporation) have announced the formation of the RF Energy Alliance.
The Alliance intends to advance today's power and heating solutions by equipping engineers and designers with a cost-effective and efficient heating and power source, namely solid-state RF energy. To achieve this, the companies will drive the development of standards, education and promotion of solid-state RF energy.
Applications initially targeted include consumer and industrial cooking, industrial lighting and heating, automotive ignition and medical devices for ablation, hyperthermia treatment and imaging.
The alliance has not released details of the specific technologies consortium members will be pursuing but new wide bandgap technologies such as SiC and GaN would be expected to play a key role.
RF energy applications for heating make use of the inherent energy of the electromagnetic wave to heat dissipative objects and/or power physicochemical processes. Today RF Energy applications as a heating and power source are typically powered by magnetron technologies in appliances (e.g., cooking) and industrial heating and drying applications. Also, solid-state generated RF energy is already used in niche areas like medical imaging (MRI) and analysis (NMR) machines.
By establishing standard specifications for solid-state RF energy, the alliance thinks the technology has the potential to become a highly-efficient, controllable and scalable energy and power source replacing magnetrons in these areas as well as enabling many other (new) applications, which demand the high degree of control possible with solid state.
"While solid-state generation of RF by itself is not new, its use is currently limited to low volume, specialised applications. The technology has reached a tipping point where broad adoption can be realised in a variety of applications that are either driven by magnetron tubes and the likes or are even completely new," said Adriano Scaburri, technology Ddrector Advanced Development at Whirlpool and Chair of the RF Energy Alliance.
The Alliance will define specifications for RF energy components, sub-modules, interfaces and systems necessary to support its target applications, focusing first on solid-state cooking. These specifications will be backed by roadmaps for critical elements in the application's supply chain to aid design and implementation efforts. A comprehensive validation and certification program ensuring reliability and base performance levels of components and end-products will also be established.
Member companies will have the opportunity to contribute to the evolution of existing applications as well as the creation of new ones that can benefit from solid-state RF energy. Member profiles range from OEMs and suppliers to service providers and institutions dedicated to the Alliance's mission.
Such companies active in the solid state RF generation chain or applying RF energy are encouraged to participate alongside a number of companies that have already expressed interest in joining the RF Energy Alliance.