What is ebeam
Focused, accelerated electrons to cut, link, paste molecules
ebeam is electron beam technology.
How to create an electron beam
The key to electron beam is high-voltage and high-vacuum. Electrons are generated by a cathode sitting at negative high-voltage inside an ultra-high vacuum. The cathode is comprised of one or more tungsten filaments and the electrostatic optics. Passing current through the tungsten wires generates electrons. When high-voltage is applied, electrons “boil off” and start flying toward ground (0 Volts). The electrostatic optics steer the electrons toward the window and focuses them into a strip or a “curtain”. The window is made of a thin titanium foil. This foil is thin enough to allow most of the electrons to fly through it, but strong enough to maintain a hermetic seal and therefore maintain the ultra-high vacuum. The electrons fly through the window into atmosphere and that is where the magic begins.
ebeam Technologies’ products achieve ultra-high vacuum in one of two ways. Sealed lamps are pumped out to ultra-high vacuum and are then sealed. The vacuum is held throughout the entire lifespan of the lamp. Because we can pull such a high vacuum, 10-9, we can fit high voltage into an extremely small space.
In our larger, pumped systems, the ultra-high vacuum is achieved and maintained by vacuum pumps which run continuously.
The world of electron beam is divided into 2 energy ranges: high energy and low energy. The unit of energy is the Electron Volt (eV). High energy is considered to be everything above 300,000eV or 300keV. Low energy is considered to be everything below 300keV. We here at ebeam Technologies work in the low energy range.
One great advantage of using low energy ebeam is that it is easy to create compact, self-shielded systems. Shielding high energy electron beam systems requires much more material and are therefore much more bulky and expensive. For example, the shielding on an 80keV can be done with >25mm of stainless steel. Whereas it takes nearly 4m of concrete to shield the x-rays generated by a 10MeV electron accelerator.
What do the accelerated electrons do?
The accelerated electrons are flying at a fraction of the speed of light. 80keV electrons fly at about 0.52C. 300keV electrons fly at about 0.82C. This is a lot of energy compared to the bond-strength between the atoms of molecules. For example, it takes less than 4eV to break a carbon-carbon bond. When 300keV electrons hit their target, something will break. ebeam breaks molecules, creating free radicals in mass quantities, and breaks them efficiently. When a molecule is broken, it will have unpaired valence electrons. This is the definition of a “free radical”.
Radicals are very reactive, and therefore very useful for creating scientific magic.
The 3 effects of ebeam: Cut, Link, Paste
Once the radicals are created, one or more of 3 things happen: cut, link, and/or paste.
The electrons cut molecules, forming radicals. The radicals eventually become stable again, but not by joining with another molecule. This effect is also called chain-scission. This is the mechanism behind sterilization, cracking of biomass, and polymer degrading. In ebeam sterilization, disinfection, and inactivation, the electrons break mainly the hydrogen bonds between the amino acids of the DNA in the pathogen, thereby inactivating it. With polymers, ebeam reduces the average molecular weight by chopping long chains into shorter chains.
Radicals are unstable and will become stable as soon as the opportunity arises. They will bond to whatever is in the vicinity in order to pair up the valence electrons again. Sometimes they bond to themselves, or to a neighboring chain of the same material. This is the mechanism behind crosslinking.
Sometimes the nearest molecule is another material. The molecule with the radical can and will bond to this as well. This allows two different substances to bond together which otherwise would not. This is the effect behind e-grafting and ebeam-induced reactive compounding. This is also the chemical process which creates the adhesion of inks and coatings to various substrates.
What is ebeam Curing?
Curing is also known as hardening or drying. A substance starts in a non-solid state, and after ebeaming, it ends up as a solid. ebeam curing, sometimes written as EB curing, is one form of energy curing.
Curing is a combination of all three effects, cut, link, and paste. The process starts with a liquid or semi-viscous formulation which is comprised of monomers, oligomers, and various functional additives. Electron beam catalyzes free radical polymerization, a chain reaction in which monomers and oligomers bond together to make longer chains. The result is a polymer which has a much higher average molecular weight than its components had.
Inks, adhesives, coatings, and varnishes are often cured with electron beam.
What can you do with ebeam?
Blue is the new green
Our partners are not only thinking of future growth but the effect of growth on the world around them. Their revolution is one which changes the way businesses handle business. Our partners are taking into consideration how their future effects can create a greater good and in return a greater yield. If green technology is the right way forward, why aren’t more people and companies adopting it?
Green technology is good for the environment but typically comes with trade-off’s. It is often more expensive and/or less productive. A technology which is less expensive, more productive and good for the environment would have a real impact, because of the business case behind it. ebeam is blue technology. Not just because of the blue glow created when electrons fly through the air, but because it’s good for the environment and more productive. Where green technology has offered only incremental advancements, blue technology finally brings the accelerator. With blue technology, ebeam assists companies to deliver on their environmental sustainability promises.
Production lines using ebeam do not need heat. This allows ebeam to reduce energy consumption in certain industrial processes by 50-90%.
Ultraviolet (UV) lamps are often used to dry inks on printing presses which use energy-curable inks. The typical power draw for a UV arc lamp is 230W per cm. Thus, a typical narrow-web will require 8 – 9kW per color. ebeam does the same job with just 2.7kW. This would mean energy savings of over 90% on an 8 color press.
Cleveland Steel Containers and Corporation (CSC) designs and manufactures steel pail containers which are used to store and transport just about any kind of material or product. CSC produces these steel pail containers through a process called coil-coating, which is a curing process. CSC found that with ebeam they have a dramatic reduction in energy requirements. Similarly, Tetra Pak discovered extensive energy savings using ebeam sterilization of their carton packaging.
In sterilization, pathogen inactivation, and crosslinking, ebeam replaces chemicals completely. Curing inks with ebeam is accomplished without photoinitiators or harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Medical packaging, food packaging, and food goods are sterilized inline without any chemicals, resulting in more precise and safer sterilization practices. This saves the manufacturer millions in working capital which would otherwise be tied up in product which is in transit to and from the sterilization service centers.
Cleveland Steel Containers found that two-thirds of their original, solvent-based thermal coating evaporates during the coil coating process. ebeam coatings contain no solvents, meaning there is nothing to evaporate.
Electron beam sterilization of food packaging extends the shelf life of food. Using ebeam directly on food products delivers a precise, powerful, yet gentle inactivation step. Precise, because the energy can be tuned to treat only the surface of the product. Powerful, because it achieves log 5 (or higher) reduction of pathogens. Gentle, because unlike other inactivation technologies, it does not affect downstream processing and it does not change the taste or texture. The result is the elimination of food-borne illnesses and a dramatic decrease in food waste.
ebeam Synthesis capitalizes on the paste effect. It will grow new families of materials made from polymers. This includes new compounds, membranes, 3D-printed parts, films, adhesives, coatings, and many more possibilities.
ebeam enables materials to bond which would otherwise never bond or would bond, but only with the use of toxic chemicals. For example, crosslinking of polyethylene can be done without the use of silane or organic peroxides.
Biocompatible molecules have been grafted onto dialysis membranes. This prevents post treatment, auto-immune side-effects, relieving the patients of a lot of discomfort.
In the past, electron beam systems have required high capital investment. As the range and scope of applications for electron beam technology is so vast, the users have justified the investment by running many applications on the same electron beam machine. This usually resulted in oversized, under-optimized designs.
The compact, industrialized ebeam Lamp is now a reality. As we can now take advantage of the economies of scale in our supply chain, the cost of implementing ebeam technology has decreased dramatically.
ebeam enables decentralized R&D and production. Each R&D team, each production line can have an ebeam design optimized for its needs. An R&D team in one part of the world can innovate and iterate at its own pace. It must no longer compete for time on the centralized ebeam machine with another team. They can work independently and in parallel. Separate manufacturing teams are free to select an ebeam machine optimized for their needs as well as the choice location for a new production line.