Determining Fixed Solids
- Scientists studying soils and water use the muffle furnace to burn off any volatile materials in a sample, leaving only the nonvolatile. The high heat will convert the nonvolatile to ash while the volatile materials burn off as gases. This process is used in a wide variety of fields of study in a process known as ashing.
- Engineers use muffle furnaces to determine the strength of structural elements such as concrete after exposure to controlled levels of heat. Because the muffle furnace can maintain an accurate temperature for extended periods of time, extreme thermal effects can be noted that could not be duplicated in other forms of testing equipment.
Heat Treating Metals
- Extreme heat changes the carbon content of steel. This can strengthen the metal, improving its usability in high stress situations. Muffle furnaces are generally small, limiting the size of the steel parts and are more commonly used for testing metal parts rather than the production of heat-treated metal.
- Because the test material is not exposed to the flames used to generate the heat, the muffle furnace can be used to determine the temperature at which a material combusts. This eliminates the possibility that combustion of the material could be initiated by the heat source. This is useful in determining the combustion point of materials that would ignite at any temperature if exposed to a flame.