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Furnaces are one of the most versatile types of industrial appliances that span many different areas of use. This article discusses the classification of various furnaces used in heat treating based on the mode of operation (batch-type furnaces and continuous-type furnaces), application, heating method, mode of heat transfer, type of materials handling system, and mode of waste heat recovery (recuperation and regeneration). It provides information on uniform temperature distribution, the general requirements and selection criteria for insulation materials, as well as the basic safety requirements of these furnaces.

This article provides a detailed discussion on the types of furnace atmospheres required for heat treating. These include generated exothermic-based atmospheres, generated endothermic-based atmospheres, generated exothermic-endothermic-based atmospheres, generated dissociated-ammonia-based atmospheres, industrial gas nitrogen-base atmospheres, argon atmospheres, and hydrogen atmospheres. Atmospheres for backfilling, partial pressure operation, and quenching in vacuum are also discussed. Furnace atmospheres constitute four major groups of safety hazards in heat treating: fire, explosion, toxicity, and asphyxiation. The article reviews the fundamentals of principal gases and vapors. It describes how the evaluation of the atmospheric requirements of heat treating furnaces is influenced by factors such as cost of operation and capital investment.

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