HPU: Technology opportunities
Nowadays emerging technologies have to be both environment friendly and energy saving to assure sustainability. High-power ultrasound can be considered as one of such technologies. Industrial applicability of ultrasonic energy has been investigated since the 1950s, but only a small number of applications have been so far introduced at commercial level. Nevertheless, during the last fifteen years a renewed interest for ultrasonic processing has grown, particularly in those sectors where the ultrasonic energy may represent a clean and efficient tool for enhancing or producing the desired effects. Food industry, environment, pharmaceuticals and chemicals manufacture, machining, are amongst the application fields where power ultrasound is becoming an attractive alternative to conventional processing methods.
A whole range of physical and chemical effects may be generated via the transmission of ultrasonic energy into treatment media, which in turn, can accelerate and/or improve various processes. Physical effects are mainly ascribed to mechanical effects of high-intensity waves propagated into the medium; whereas chemical effects refer to those promoted by ultrasonic cavitation in liquids.
Within the area of ultrasonic processing of fluid media (gases and liquids) the development of power transducers with extensive radiators has the great potential to contribute to the scale up at industrial level of several commercial applications, in important sectors including food industry, environment, and manufacturing.