/ HICON JOURNAL 2022-01 EN | Michael Schiesser, EBNER, Austria


Up to 20 % savings in electricity and hydrogen with a new digital development.

Steep price increases on international energy exchanges have placed great challenges before consumers, companies and energy suppliers. With the start of the conflict in the Ukraine, energy became an even more influential instrument of geopolitical power: energy policy has been transformed, just as international policy has.

Improving quality and increasing energy efficiency are two goals that lie at the heart of many EBNER innovations. With the new ATMOSPHEREperfect-WIRE software – module for bell annealer facilities for steel wire, EBNER is introducing a new product with a very attractive ROI. ATMOSPHEREperfect-WIRE is a new software solution that provided savings of up to 20 % in electrical and hydrogen consumption during long-term testing at an Austrian customer’s works, and is one of the latest achievements of EBNER’s in-house product development team. The EBNER team worked intensively in production conditions for an entire year, with the goal of saving energy and increasing efficiency at bell annealers for steel wire.


EBNER has been emphasizing research and development for over 70 years, and has always focused on providing benefits to our customers. EBNER HICON/H2 bell annealers for steel wire have been leading the market for years, but now – with the successful introduction of the ATMOSPHEREperfect-WIRE software solution – the energy efficiency of this type of facility has been digitally increased. The name “HICON/H2 bell annealer” already betrays its “secret”. Along with high convection, the hydrogen atmosphere is what makes it possible to provide the shortest annealing times, the shortest cooling times and excellent surfaces on the finished product. Our experience with hydrogen has been a great advantage of late, as due to developments in energy prices the measures taken to reduce energy consumption have increasingly focused on the use of hydrogen.


To keep the atmosphere in the workload space as pure as possible and make full use of the advantages of processing in hydrogen, hydrogen is used as a purge gas during heat treatment. Lubricants, which are applied to the surface of the wire during the drawing process to reduce the forces exerted on it, evaporate when the wire is heated up in an EBNER bell annealer. Hydrogen purging transports the products of evaporation (CO, CO2 and CH4) out of the workload space. Until now, facility settings for atmosphere purging were based on the experience gathered by EBNER commissioning engineers and our customers, and then refined over time. Problems with soot, caused by highly-contaminated starting material, would require manual adjustment of the atmosphere track to ensure that the surface of the wire became clean. It was time to take a new approach and find a way to provide precise settings.


By measuring the current draw of the workbase fan motor, conclusions can be drawn regarding the density – and, in consequence, the purity – of the atmosphere in the workload space. Based on this insight, the EBNER research team developed a mathematical model that uses the value for motor current draw to calculate the minimum necessary atmosphere purge flowrate.


To test the newly-developed model, one of our customers installed it at one of their workbases. The results were positive, so a second phase of testing saw the entire anneal shop (10 workbases) equipped with the software module. After a year-long test under production conditions also showed positive results, automatic purge flowrate control was integrated into the software. Continuous optimization work was required during the testing phase, for which reason a team from the EBNER Product Development Department was at the customer’s works to supervise the annealing process.


When the long-term testing phase had been completed, the results showed that hydrogen was not the only utility for which consumption had been reduced. The power consumption of the workbase fan motor had also decreased by up to 20 % – all without any change to the quality of the wire surface or the material quality of the annealed wire. In an era of increasing energy costs, the ability to recognize and use potential savings is a must. It is thus forms a significant element of the EBNER E3 sustainability strategy: looking beyond the development of the new ATMOSPHEREperfect-WIRE module, every other energy consumer and the carbon footprint of the heat treatment industry require optimization, i.e. through increased digitalization.

We would be happy to discuss the possibility of installing ATMOSPHEREperfect-WIRE at your facility.


ATMOSPHEREperfect-WIRE is a newly-developed add-on for VISUALFURNACES6 Process Control Systems. It is designed for use at HICON/H2 bell annealer facilities operating with 100 % hydrogen atmospheres and frequency-controlled workbase fan motors, and is distinguished by the following capabilities:

  • User-friendly operation using VISUALFURNACES6.
  • Automatic hydrogen purge flowrate control regardless of the lubricant in use, coil data or the degree of contamination of the wire surface.
  • Atmosphere tracks of annealing programs no longer need to be developed or improved.
  • Hydrogen consumption and electrical power for the fan motor reduced by up to 20 %.
  • Software solution
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