History of Electric Induction Heating

This Chapter

Induction Heating
  1. Early work to Salesman
  2. Salesman to entrepreneur
  3. Vacuum furnaces
  4. Henry Rowan, Mars Rocket
  5. Cheston, Cragmet, IRS
  6. Visit Russia, Meet Vera
  7. Around the world, Meet the president
  8. Kramatorsk
  9. Consarc
  10. Consarc UK
  11. Carbon contract
  12. Russians in Scotland
  13. The Embargo is Coming
  14. Embargo and Aftermath
  15. BEPA
  16. After BEPA
  17. Fiber Materials Appeal
  18. Consarc Officials Deny Wrongdoing in Sales to Soviets
  19. Memos from Henry Rowan to Metcalf
  20. Rowland motor patent 1868
  21. Rowland reviews the bids for Niagara Falls power station
  22. Metcalf's father's poem, and Metcalf genealogy
  23. The Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
  24. Problems of Russia's Policy With Respect to China and Japan
  25. History of Ajax Magnethermic
  26. The most important event for Inductotherm
  27. Fright Flight
  28. Black art of carbon production
  29. Polaris Missile
  30. Nuclear Airplane
  31. Nuclear Engine
  32. Molten metal eats through and explodes
  33. Cannon Muskegon Corporation
  34. Metcalf at General Motors Research from April 1955 to Oct 1955
  35. Metcalf pouring superalloy at GE from Oct 1955 to June 1956
  36. Metcalf at Waimet (later Howmet) from June 1956 to July 1957
  37. Black art of carbon production
  38. Project to test NASA hot hydrogen engine
  39. Special Metals Number 9
  40. Metcalf joins Inductotherm group
  41. Device to load materials into a furnace for melting
  42. Bank reneged on a commitment to finance a job in Russia
  43. Inductotherm private airport
  44. NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application) and all I know about carbon
  45. NERVA Engine Control Rods
  46. same as 383-Nuke.html
  47. Development of Polaris missle
  48. Ajax NASA
  49. Production of carbon fabrics and threads made from rayon
  50. George Houghton, Aerojet Inspector gives Metcalf Rocket history
  51. Rayon to carbon to graphite
  52. Metcalf buys the control division of the Pelton Water Wheel Company
  53. Rowan's account of firing Consarc President
  54. Kama Purchasing Commission, Ukraine
  55. Role of chromium in vacuum melters
  56. ASEA wins contract for isopress
  57. Induction heating to re-refile tank cannon
  58. Hoover-Ugine Company
  59. Letter to Henry Rowan at Inductotherm
  60. John Mortimer in Rancocas
  61. Consarc Board of Directors Meeting
  62. Consarc Board of Directors Meeting
  63. Hillbilly
  64. How to produce Calcarb
  65. Newsday, late 1987
  66. Embargo Regulations
  67. Seizure of Goods
  68. Minutes of Dept of Trade, London
  69. Minutes of ECGD Meeting
  70. Rowan Interview
  71. Bombshell looks like dud
  72. Letter to Hank Rowan
  73. Consarc Board Meeting
  74. Minutes of DTI Meeting, London
  75. Stansted Fluid Power
  76. Minutes of DTI Meeting, 3 Oct 85
  77. Letter to IHI Master Metals

Induction Heating

By James Farol Metcalf

Development of Polaris Missle

Soon after WWII the US Navy was funded to build a nuclear engine for warships. On the 17th of January 1955 Commander Dennis Wilkinson sent the historic message, "Underway on nuclear power," from the USS Nautilus. On the 3rd of December 1956 the Navy began the development of the Polaris missile submarine.

In 1957 after the launch of "sputnik" Congress authorized the AEC to speed up funding for a factory located in as abandoned railroad repair station (round house) located in the strip coal mines outside Hazleton, PA to produce beryllium for the atomic bomb race. Funds were short so the Agriculture Department made a wheat for burl ore barter agreement with the Brazilian government. The Navy terminated the Regulus missile program to free funds for the Polaris project.

0n the 3rd of August 1958 the Nautilus passed beneath the North Pole on a 1,830-mile voyage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. My three-year career in the vacuum melting of superalloys came to an end as funds for purchasing jet aircraft were shifted to missiles.

Less than a month passed before I was working for Beryllium Corporation assigned to the task of vacuum melting beryllium beads mixed with beryllium fluoride to produce a pure beryllium ingot. The furnace was a standard 500-pound steel (100-pound beryllium) vacuum melting built by FJ Stokes and the power supply was a 100kW Inductotherm system. Near the unit was installed another Inductotherm system used to sinter beryllium oxide powder to make the refractory lining.

The thermal looses through the beryllium oxide lining were very high and we were had just enough power to make the metal liquid. I did not ask permission to change the refractory to magnesium oxide but it worked like a charm with the magnesium levels lowered because we could make the metal hotter and the remaining magnesium fluoride slag coated the magnesium oxide walls. The management did not know if they should fire me or reward me but for sure my assigned job was finished.

The company was able to produce enough quality beryllium ingot in a short period to meet the stockpile requirement of the AEC and were allowed to bid on the finished products made by hot pressing beryllium powder in to blocks that were machined into shapes for atomic bomb parts. Every person at that facility was checked by the FBI and given the AEC "Q" clearance. Based on the need to know most of the people never saw what was done behind the walls of the machine shop.

The company had a pilot plant for converting beryllium ingot to chips before they were ground into powder. The powder was pressed into a cylindrical shape using a hydraulic press with a die made of steel that was placed into a vacuum chamber to be heated to about 200 degrees F using metallic heating elements. In early 1959 I understood what was being done but did not agree with the methods being used. I wanted to use a graphite die but the company was afraid that it would react with beryllium to form beryllium carbide. Finally they allowed a small test and it worked.

The company assigned me to the engineering department to design a larger hot pressing unit. The task of designing was well beyond my meager capabilities so the company hired a local young man of Italian decent named Joe Lona. Joe was soon to learn that the "hillbilly" had grand visions but had no clue of the details required to make things work.

I knew how to operate an induction system and that graphite could be heated by induction without difficulty. I knew how to turn on vacuum pumps and where to buy them. I also had met Henry Rowan the president of Inductotherm a few months earlier.

While Lona was designing the mechanical portion I contacted Rowan for help on the induction system. Rowan worked with Lona to design the chamber to be fitted with an induction coil including the required thermal insulation. He provided us with a quotation for the whole system including the induction coil that was priced at $750. Even before he was out the door I decided we could use the power supply made redundant when we changed the refractory of the vacuum-melting furnace to magnesium oxide. For all his efforts Rowan's efforts he received an order for $750.

The first submarine combining nuclear propulsion with the Albacore hull (to store Polaris missiles) was commissioned while we were in the processes of building the prototype induction hot pressing facility. (The first of the "41 for Freedom" Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) submarines.)

Beryllium Corporation received the green light from the Navy to build a facility to produce Polaris parts including the nose (Nag), the cone section (CAT), and the flare section (Fox) using beryllium metal.

In the end it would turn out that his was a major technical error in material selection but the Russians were beating us at every turn in the race for control of space. I was also a political year where the Republicans had selected Nixon and were fighting Kennedy who was preaching a "missile gap".

The company gave me a numbered requisition pad that could be used to commit the company to save time in building the facility. Lona was transferred from the drafting board to supervise the existing construction staff to get the first prototype up and running. The first order was placed with Penn Iron in Reading for the chamber using sketches that Lona drew on a cloth napkin at the Medvich Hotel restaurant.

During the start up we ran into a peck of trouble caused by induction heating of the surrounding steelwork. Rowan offered to send Jess Cartlidge for $50 per day to help us out. He solved our problems in a couple of days and first test run to produce a part 8-inches round and 16-inches long was perfect.

We needed a larger part right away so Jessie spent another day helping us design a larger coil and to prevent the chamber from heating he introduced us to iron shunts attached to the chamber wall. Jessie went home that day as a salesman with two orders. One for a larger induction coil for $1250 and $450 for shunts. My meager understanding that iron shunts could be used to prevent stray induction heating of a chamber was the clincher that allowed me to sell a very large but unsuccessful facility for testing rocket motors to NASA in 1963.

On the 20th of July 1960 while submerged off the coast of Cape Canaveral, a Navy submarine successfully fired two Polaris A-1 missiles with a range of 1,200 miles. On the 25th of August 1960 the USS Sea Dragon charted the Northwest Passage and surfaced at the North Pole where the crew played baseball.

Lona and I completed the fabrication department at Beryllium in the fall of 1960 that included induction furnaces that used 60-inch graphite. My chronology of this era can be found in: http://www.ioa.com/~zero/008-EarlyWork.html

With the experiment to use Beryllium dead in the water as a failure I moved on to become a salesman for Ajax Magnethermic in April 1961.