A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven
An oven is a thermally insulated chamber used for the heating, baking or drying of a substance. It is most commonly used for cooking. Kilns, and furnaces are special-purpose ovens...

, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Uses include the hardening, burning or drying of materials. Kilns are also used for the firing of materials, such as clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 and other raw materials, to form ceramic
A ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous...

s (including pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

, bricks
A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...


Specific other uses include:
  • To dry green lumber
    Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

     so that the lumber can be used immediately
  • Drying wood
    Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

     for use as firewood
  • Heating wood to the point of pyrolysis
    Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen. It involves the simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase, and is irreversible...

     to produce charcoal
    Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

  • For annealing, fusing and deforming glass
    Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

    , or fusing metallic oxide paints to the surface of glass
  • For cremation
    Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

     (at high temperature)
  • Drying of tobacco
    Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

  • Drying malted barley for brewing
    Brewing is the production of beer through steeping a starch source in water and then fermenting with yeast. Brewing has taken place since around the 6th millennium BCE, and archeological evidence suggests that this technique was used in ancient Egypt...

     and other fermentation
    Fermentation may refer to:* Fermentation , the use of fermentation in food preparation* Fermentation , a metabolic process whereby electrons released from nutrients are ultimately transferred to molecules obtained from the breakdown of those same nutrients* Fermentation , the process of...

  • Drying hops
    Hops are the female flower clusters , of a hop species, Humulus lupulus. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor, though hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine...

     for brewing (known as a hop kiln or oast house
    Oast house
    An oast, oast house or hop kiln is a building designed for kilning hops as part of the brewing process. They can be found in most hop-growing areas and are often good examples of vernacular architecture...

  • Smelting ore to extract metal
  • Heating limestone
    Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

     with clay in the manufacture of Portland cement
    Portland cement
    Portland cement is the most common type of cement in general use around the world because it is a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco and most non-specialty grout...

  • Heating limestone to make quicklime or calcium oxide
    Calcium oxide
    Calcium oxide , commonly known as quicklime or burnt lime, is a widely used chemical compound. It is a white, caustic, alkaline crystalline solid at room temperature....

Ceramic kilns

Kilns are an essential part of the manufacture of all ceramics, which, by definition, require heat treatment, often at high temperature. During this process, chemical and physical reactions occur which cause the material to be permanently altered. In the case of pottery, clay materials are shaped, dried and then fired in a kiln. The final characteristics are determined by the composition and preparation of the clay body, by the temperature at which it is fired, and by the glaze
Ceramic glaze
Glaze is a layer or coating of a vitreous substance which has been fired to fuse to a ceramic object to color, decorate, strengthen or waterproof it.-Use:...

s that may be used. Although modern kilns often have sophisticated electrical systems to control the firing temperatures, pyrometric device
Pyrometric device
Pyrometric devices gauge heatwork when firing materials inside a kiln. Pyrometric devices do not measure temperature, but can report temperature equivalents...

s have been
used to provide visual indication of the firing regime since around 1000 AD.

Clay consists of fine-grained particles, that are relatively weak and porous. Clay is combined with other minerals to create a workable clay body. Part of the firing process includes sintering
Sintering is a method used to create objects from powders. It is based on atomic diffusion. Diffusion occurs in any material above absolute zero, but it occurs much faster at higher temperatures. In most sintering processes, the powdered material is held in a mold and then heated to a temperature...

. This process heats the clay until the particles partially melt and flow together, creating a strong, single mass, composed of a glassy phase interspersed with pores and crystalline material. Through firing, the pores are reduced in size, causing the material to shrink slightly. This crystalline material is a matrix of predominantly silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

 and aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 oxides, and is very hard and strong, although usually somewhat brittle.

Types of kiln

In the broadest terms, there are two types of kiln, both sharing the same basic characteristics of being an insulate
Thermal insulation
Thermal insulation is the reduction of the effects of the various processes of heat transfer between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Heat transfer is the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature...

d box with controlled inner temperature and atmosphere.

In using an intermittent kiln, the ware to be fired is loaded into the kiln. The kiln is sealed, and the internal temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 increased according to a schedule. After the firing process is completed, both the kiln and the ware are cooled.

A continuous kiln, sometimes called a tunnel kiln, is a long structure in which only the central portion is directly heated. From the cool entrance, ware is slowly transported through the kiln, and its temperature is increased steadily as it approaches the central, hottest part of the kiln. From there, its transportation continues and the temperature is reduced until it exits the kiln at near room temperature. A continuous kiln is the most energy-efficient, because heat given off during cooling is recycled to pre-heat the incoming ware.

A special type of kiln, common in tableware and tile manufacture, is the roller-hearth kiln, in which ware placed on bats is carried through the kiln on rollers.

Kiln technology is very old. The development of the kiln from a simple earthen trench filled with pots and fuel, pit firing
Pit fired pottery
Pit firing is the oldest known method for the firing of pottery. Examples have been dated as early as 29,000–25,000 BCE. Kilns have since replaced pit firing as the most widespread method of firing pottery, although the technique still finds limited use amongst certain studio potters.Unfired...

, to modern methods happened in stages. One improvement was to build a firing chamber around pots with baffles and a stoking hole, this allowed heat to be conserved and used more efficiently. The use of a chimney stack improves the air flow or draw of the kiln, thus burning the fuel more completely. Early examples of kilns found in Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 include those made for the making of roof-tiles during the Roman
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 occupation. These kilns were built up the side of a slope, such that a fire could be lit at the bottom and the heat would rise up into the kiln.

With the advent of the industrial age
Industrial Age
Industrial Age may refer to:*Industrialisation*The Industrial Revolution...

, kilns were designed to utilize electricity and more refined fuels, including natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 and propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

. The majority of large, industrial pottery kilns now use natural gas, as it is generally clean, efficient and easy to control. Modern kilns can be fitted with computerized controls, allowing for refined adjustments during the firing cycle. A user may choose to control the rate of temperature climb or ramp, hold or soak the temperature at any given point, or control the rate of cooling. Both electric and gas kilns are common for smaller scale production in industry and craft, handmade and sculptural work.
  • Anagama kiln - the Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

    n anagama kiln
    Anagama kiln
    thumb|250px|right|Anagama kiln 1 Door about wide2 Firebox3 Stacking floor made of silica sand4 Dampers5 Flue6 Chimney7 Refractory archThe anagama kiln is an ancient type of pottery kiln brought to Japan from China via Korea in the 5th century.An anagama consists of a firing chamber with a...

     has been used since medieval times and is considered the oldest style of production kiln, brought to Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

     from China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     via Korea
    Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

     in the 5th century. This kiln usually consists of one long firing chamber, pierced with smaller stacking ports on one side, with a firebox at one end and a flue at the other. Firing time can vary from one day to several weeks. Traditional anagama kilns are also built on a slope to allow for a better draft.

  • Bottle kiln
    Bottle oven
    A bottle oven is a type of kiln. The word 'bottle' refers to the shape of the structure and not to the kiln's products which were pottery not glass....

    - a type of intermittent kiln, usually coal-fired, formerly used in the firing of pottery; such a kiln was surrounded by a tall brick hovel or cone, of typical bottle shape.

  • Catenary arch kiln, typically used for the firing of pottery using salt
    In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

    , these by their form (a catenary
    In physics and geometry, the catenary is the curve that an idealised hanging chain or cable assumes when supported at its ends and acted on only by its own weight. The curve is the graph of the hyperbolic cosine function, and has a U-like shape, superficially similar in appearance to a parabola...

     arch) tend to retain their shape over repeated heating and cooling cycles, whereas other types require extensive metalwork supports.

  • Electric kilns - kilns operated by electricity
    Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

     were developed in the 20th century, primarily for smaller scale use such as in schools, universities, and hobby centers. The atmosphere in most designs of electric kiln is rich in oxygen
    Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

    , as there is no open flame to consume oxygen molecules, however reducing conditions can be created with appropriate gas input.

  • Feller kiln brought contemporary design to wood firing by re-using the unburnt gas from the chimney in order to heat the air up before entering the firebox. This leads to an even shorter firing cycle and less wood consumption. This design requires external ventilation to prevent the in-chimney radiator from melting, being typically in metal. The result is a very efficient wood kiln firing one cubic meter of ceramics with one cubic meter of wood.

  • Microwave assisted firing - this technique combine microwave
    Microwaves, a subset of radio waves, have wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz and 300 GHz. This broad definition includes both UHF and EHF , and various sources use different boundaries...

     energy with more conventional energy sources such as radiant gas or electric heating in order to process ceramic materials to the required high temperatures. Microwave-assisted firing offers significant economic benefits.

  • Noborigama kiln - the Noborigama is an evolution from Anagama design as a multi-chamber kiln, usually built on a slope, where wood is stacked from the front firebox at first, then only through the side-stoking holes with the benefit of having air heated up to 600 °C from the front firebox, enabling more efficient firings.

  • Sèvres kiln was invented in Sèvres, France and enabled to reach efficiently high-temperature (1280 °C) in order to have fully water-proof ceramic bodies and easy to obtain glazes. It features a down-draft design that enabled to reach high temperature in shorter time, even with wood-firing.

  • Top-hat kiln - an intermittent kiln of a type sometimes used in the firing of pottery. The ware is set on a refractory hearth, or plinth, over which a box-shaped cover is then lowered.

Wood-drying kiln

A variety of wood drying
Wood drying
Wood drying reduces the moisture content of wood before its use.There are two main reasons for drying wood:...

kiln technologies exist today: conventional, dehumidification, solar, vacuum and radio frequency.

Conventional wood dry kilns (Rasmussen, 1988) are either package-type (sideloader) or track-type (tram) construction. Most hardwood lumber kilns are sideloader kilns in which fork trucks are used to load lumber packages into the kiln. Most softwood lumber kilns are track types in which lumber packages are loaded on kiln/track cars for loading the kiln.

Modern high-temperature, high-air-velocity conventional kilns can typically dry 1 inches (25.4 mm) green lumber in 10 hours down to a moisture content of 18%. However, 1-inch-thick green Red Oak requires about 28 days to dry down to a moisture content of 8%.

Heat is typically introduced via steam running through fin/tube heat exchangers controlled by on/off pneumatic valves. Less common are proportional pneumatic valves or even various electrical actuators. Humidity is removed via a system of vents, the specific layout of which are usually particular to a given manufacturer. In general, cool dry air is introduced at one end of the kiln while warm moist air is expelled at the other. Hardwood conventional kilns also require the introduction of humidity via either steam spray or cold water misting systems to keep the relative humidity inside the kiln from dropping too low during the drying cycle. Fan directions are typically reversed periodically to ensure even drying of larger kiln charges.

Most softwood lumber kilns operate below 240 °F (116 °C) temperature. Hardwood lumber kiln drying schedules typically keep the dry bulb temperature below 180 °F (82 °C). Difficult-to-dry species might not exceed 140 degrees F.

Dehumidification kilns are very similar to conventional kilns in basic construction. Drying times are usually comparable. Heat is primarily supplied by an integral dehumidification unit which also serves to remove humidity. Auxiliary heat is often provided early in the schedule where the heat required may exceed the heat generated by the DH unit.

Solar kilns are conventional kilns, typically built by hobbyists to keep initial investment costs low. Heat is provided via solar radiation, while internal air circulation is typically passive.

Newer wood drying technologies have included the use of reduced atmospheric pressure to attempt to speed up the drying process. A variety of vacuum technologies exist, varying primarily in the method heat is introduced into the wood charge. Hot water platten vacuum kilns use aluminum heating plates with the water circulating within as the heat source, and typically operate at significantly reduced absolute pressure. Discontinuous and SSV (super-heated steam) use atmosphere to introduce heat into the kiln charge. Discontinuous technology allows the entire kiln charge to come up to full atmospheric pressure, the air in the chamber is then heated, and finally vacuum is pulled. SSV run at partial atmospheres (typically around 1/3 of full atmospheric pressure) in a hybrid of vacuum and conventional kiln technology (SSV kilns are significantly more popular in Europe where the locally harvested wood is easier to dry versus species found in North America). RF/V (radio frequency + vacuum) kilns use microwave radiation to heat the kiln charge, and typically have the highest operating cost due to the heat of vaporization being provided by electricity rather than local fossil fuel or waste wood sources.

Valid economic studies of different wood drying technologies are based on the total energy, capital, insurance/risk, environmental impacts, labor, maintenance, and product degrade costs for the task of removing water from the wood fiber. These costs (which can be a significant part of the entire plant costs)involve the differential impact of the presence of drying equipment in a specific plant. An example of this is that every piece of equipment (in a lumber manufacturing plant) from the green trimmer to the infeed system at the planer mill is the "drying system". Since thousands of different types of wood products manufacturing plants exist around the globe, and may be integrated (lumber, plywood, paper, etc.) or stand alone (lumber only), the true costs of the drying system can only be determined when comparing the total plant costs and risks with and without drying.

The total (harmful) air emissions produced by wood kilns, including their heat source, can be significant. Typically, the higher the temperature the kiln operates at, the larger amount of emissions are produced (per pound of water removed). This is especially true in the drying of thin veneers and high-temperature drying of softwoods.

External links

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