Active denial system

Like every technology ever created to help mankind, the U.S. military can swallow it, digest it, and spit out something destructive. Microwave technology is no different. The following is a quote from a spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory:

For the first millisecond, it just felt like the skin was warming up. Then it got warmer and warmer and you felt like it was on fire…. As soon as you’re away from that beam your skin returns to normal and there is no pain.

The spokesman is describing the Active Denial System (ADS), a non-lethal, directed-energy weapon designed for area denial, perimeter security and crowd control. Here you can see it mounted on a vehicle:


Believe it or not, it works on the same principle as a simple microwave oven. It excites the water and fat molecules in the skin, instantly heating them. There is one significant difference with a regular microwave oven though: the ADS only penetrates the top layers of skin, up to 0,4 mm. This causes a sensation of 44°C on the skin, without actually damaging critical structures inside of the skin. No human test subject could endure this for more than 5 seconds. Furthermore, the beam can be focused up to 700 meters away, and penetrate thick clothing. You’ll also have no idea where it came from or where you should run to if you don’t actually see the ADS. The beam leaves no sound, sight or smell.

According to Wired Magazine, the ADS has been rejected for fielding in Iraq due to Pentagon fears that it would be regarded as an instrument of torture.

Do you thing the U.S. military should continue developing this weapon? Do you think it is a better alternative to other crowd control weapons, such as gas grenades or water cannons?




Microwave technology inside Dymotec

Dymotec, a company that automates industrial processes, decided after 17 years that it was time to diversify. At that time, a professor at the university of Leuven who was an expert in microwave technology came to them, asking if they were interested in building a machine based on microwave technology.

Dymotec originally started making a “microwave” that was able to replace an oven used for a manufacturing process called lost-wax casting: a method of casting, in which a mould is formed around a wax pattern, which is subsequently melted and drained away.

With a convention industrial oven, the dewaxing of a mall can easily take more than a week. This is because the temperature of the mall has to rise very slowly and even to ±700 degrees for the wax to get out without making any cracks in the shell.
With the new microwave machine, the wax could be removed much faster and much environmentally friendlier: it takes 1/10th of the time, 1/4th of the energy and you have the possibility of re-using the wax.

When they were building and testing this machine, they realized this technology could be used for a lot of other processes. Now it’s even possible to dry wood or powders (we will explain this in one of our next blogposts).

A while ago, Dymotec did tests for a company that ships quarrying across the world. The company was able to dry the material to 30% (mening there is still 30% water in the product). With Dymotec’s technology, they will beable to go to 0%, and therefore carry 30% more of the product.

The prototypes proved this technology could reduce a company’s carbon emission drastically. This is because all heating processes go much faster, so there’s much less energy required. This, off course, interests a lot of multinationals.

We think microwave technology will change a lot of industrial processes for the better. Do you?

full article(Dutch) & short movie(Dutch):  Screenshot 2013-10-21 15.10.03


Hello world!

Our names are Jesse and Thomas. We’re two students at Group T in Leuven where we study industrial engineering ICT. Currently, we’re in our master year working on our thesis.

In this post, we’ll introduce you to our thesis project and this blog.

In short, our thesis consists of automating a microwave drying process. When researching and testing if a new compound or material can be dried using a microwave, there are many steps to be taken and calculations to be made. We’re going to simplify this process.

But we’re not going to talk about that, as it would be entirely too boring.

Instead, we’re going to talk about exciting new microwave technologies and it’s very many uses (other than heating up a cup of soup). We’re going to talk about the impact of these technologies on society and the other way around.

You can expect updates every one or two weeks!

Until next time,