Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
OVENS COMPRISING DISCHARGE NOZZLE PLATE FOR DISTRIBUTION OF GAS THROUGH THE OVEN, AND METHOD TO OPERATE AN OVEN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/089366
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Ovens, discharge nozzle plates for distribution of gas through an oven, and methods to operate an oven are disclosed. Example ovens include a heating system to heat gas, a substrate heating volume, and a plenum comprising a side wall having a plurality of passages formed therein, the plenum configured to direct heated gas into the substrate heating volume from the plurality of passages, each of the plurality of passages formed in the plenum having a respective tapered cross- sectional shape.

Inventors:
MELGAARD, Hans, L. (155 Harlem AvenueGlenview, IL, 60025, US)
RUF, Daniel, M. (155 Harlem AvenueGlenview, IL, 60025, US)
BENSON, Matthew (155 Harlem AvenueGlenview, IL, 60025, US)
VU, Phillip (155 Harlem AvenueGlenview, IL, 60025, US)
GRAHAM, Robert, Gerald (155 Harlem AvenueGlenview, IL, 60025, US)
KRAGSETH, Rolf, Douglas (155 Harlem AvenueGlenview, IL, 60025, US)
Application Number:
US2017/060405
Publication Date:
May 17, 2018
Filing Date:
November 07, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
DESPATCH INDUSTRIES LIMITED PARTNERSHIP (8860 207th Street West, Lakeville, MN, 55044, US)
International Classes:
D01F9/32; A21B1/24; F24C15/32
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016073815A12016-05-12
Foreign References:
US5123336A1992-06-23
US20130175253A12013-07-11
US6450086B12002-09-17
JP2008280640A2008-11-20
ES2408508A12013-06-20
CN203168926U2013-09-04
US4515561A1985-05-07
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PAHNKE, Chad, A. (McAndrews, Held & Malloy Ltd.,500 W. Madison, 34th Floo, Chicago IL, 60661, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An oven, comprising:

a heating system to heat gas;

a substrate heating volume; and

a plenum comprising a side wall having a plurality of passages formed therein, the plenum configured to direct heated gas into the substrate heating volume from the plurality of passages, each of the plurality of passages formed in the plenum having a respective tapered cross-sectional shape.

2. The oven as defined in claim 1, wherein the substrate heating volume comprises a return structure opposite the plenum to direct at least a portion of the heated gas out of the substrate heating volume.

3. The oven as defined in claim 2, wherein the return structure is to direct the at least the portion of the heated gas to the heating system.

4. The oven as defined in claim 1, wherein the plurality of passages are distributed using one or more repeating patterns over the side wall.

5. The oven as defined in claim 4, wherein the one or more repeating patterns comprise an arrangement of the passages over the side wall to optimize the distribution of the heated gas over a load area in the substrate heating volume.

6. The oven as defined in claim 1, wherein the side wall comprises a first section having first ones of the passages and a second section of the side wall having second ones of the passages, the side wall comprising a third section between the first section of the side wall and the second section of the side wall, the third section of the side wall not having passages for directing the heated gas.

7. The oven as defined in claim 1, wherein each of the passages formed in the side wall of the plenum comprises a respective inlet opening and a respective outlet opening.

8. The oven as defined in claim 7, wherein at least one of the passages formed in the side wall of the plenum comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening.

9. The oven as defined in claim 8, wherein the at least one of the passages comprising the tapered section further comprises a curved or beveled edge along the respective inlet opening.

10. The oven as defined in claim 7, wherein at least one of the passages formed in the side wall of the plenum comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening and a straight section extending from an end of the tapered section to the respective outlet opening.

11. The oven as defined in claim 1, wherein the plenum is tapered from a gas input location of the plenum toward an opposite end of the plenum.

12. The oven as defined in claim 11, wherein the side wall is configured to output the gas from the plurality of passages at a substantially uniform volume.

13. The oven as defined in claim 1, further comprising an air circulator configured to generate at least 0.3 inches water column of static pressure over the entirety of the side wall opposite the substrate heating area.

14. The oven as defined in claim 1, further comprising an air circulator configured to generate at least 0.5 inches water column of static pressure over the entirety of the side wall opposite the substrate heating area.

15. A method for heating a substrate in an oven, comprising:

supplying heated gas to a supply structure disposed within an interior of the oven, the supply structure comprising a plenum; and

directing at least a portion of the heated gas to a substrate heating volume in the interior of the oven via passages formed in a side wall of the plenum, the passages having tapered cross- sectional shapes.

16. The method as defined in claim 15, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises:

directing at least the portion of the heated gas into inlet openings of the passages; and directing at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume from outlet openings of the passages.

17. The method as defined in claim 16, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the inlet openings of the passages comprises:

directing at least the portion of the heated gas along curved or beveled edges formed along the inlet openings of the passages.

18. The method as defined in claim 16, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the inlet openings of the passages comprises:

directing the at least the portion of the heated gas into tapered sections of the passages.

19. The method as defined in claim 16, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume from the outlet openings of the passages comprises: directing the at least the portion of the heated gas into straight sections of the passages prior to discharging the heated gas into the substrate heating volume.

20. The method as defined in claim 15, further comprising recirculating the at least the portion of the heated gas from the substrate heating volume to the plenum via a return structure.

21. The method as defined in claim 15, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises:

directing at least the portion of the heated gas into one or more repeating patterns of the passages over the side wall.

22. The method as defined in claim 15, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises directing the at least the portion of the heated gas at a substantially uniform volume through the passages.

Description:
OVENS COMPRISING DISCHARGE NOZZLE PLATE FOR DISTRIBUTION OF GAS THROUGH THE OVEN, AND METHOD TO OPERATE AN OVEN

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This patent claims priority to U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 15/345,553, filed on November 8, 2016, entitled "OVENS, DISCHARGE NOZZLE PLATES FOR DISTRIBUTION OF GAS THROUGH AN OVEN, AND METHODS TO OPERATE AN OVEN". The entirety of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 15/345,553, is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Oxidation ovens are commonly used to produce carbon fibers from a precursor (such as an acrylic, pitch, or cellulose fibers). One common processing method involves successively drawing fibrous segments of the precursor material through one or more oxidation ovens.

[0003] Each of the oxidation ovens comprises a respective oxidation chamber in which the oxidation of the fiber segments takes place. Each fibrous segment can be drawn into a first oxidation oven as a carbon fiber precursor and then make multiple passes through each oxidation oven prior to exiting the final oxidation oven as an oxidized fiber segment. Roll stands and tensioners are used to draw the fibrous segments through the oxidation chambers of the ovens. Each oxidation oven heats the segments to a temperature approaching approximately 300° C. by means of a circulating flow of hot gas.

[0004] An example of such an oven is the Despatch Carbon Fiber Oxidation Oven, available from Despatch Industries, Minneapolis, Minn. A description of such an oven can be found in commonly-assigned U.S. Pat. No. 4,515,561. The oven described in the '561 Patent is a "center-to- ends" oxidation oven. In a center-to-ends oxidation oven, hot gas is supplied to the oxidation chamber of the oven from the center of the chamber and flows toward the ends of the chamber.

[0005] Typically, such a center-to-ends oxidation oven includes a center supply structure located in the center of the chamber. The center supply structure includes a plurality of supply plenums that are stacked one above each other. Gaps are provided between the stacked supply plenums to enable passage of the fibrous segments between the plenums. Each plenum comprises a duct structure that receives heated air through one or both of its ends. Each plenum includes an array of holes formed in each of the opposing side walls of the corresponding duct structure. This array of holes is also referred to here as a "nozzle." Each plenum is configured to receive heated air and direct the flow of heated gas in approximately horizontal and parallel streams of heated gas out of the nozzles towards both ends of the oxidation chamber.

[0006] Such nozzles have typically been formed in a pair of relatively thin metal sheets that form the side walls of the plenum structure. These metal sheets are also referred to here as "nozzle sheets." FIGS. 1-2 illustrate a portion of one example of a conventional nozzle sheet 100 with nozzles 102 formed in the nozzle sheet 100.

[0007] The nozzle sheets 100 typically are less than one-quarter inch thick and are made out of aluminum or similar material suitable for use in an oven. The nozzles 102 are typically formed in each nozzle sheet 100 by perforating the sheet.

[0008] Given the relative thinness of such nozzle sheets and the large number of nozzles in the sheets, a sheet of hex honeycomb material has typically been layered on the outer surface of each nozzle sheet in order to reinforce the thin nozzle sheets and to help control the angular direction of the air leaving the nozzles so that it leaves the nozzles in more uniform and parallel streams. FIG. 3 illustrates a portion of a sheet 104 of hex honeycomb material, and FIG. 4 illustrates the hex honeycomb material 104 placed on the outer surface of the nozzle sheet 100 shown in FIGS. 1-2.

[0009] However, it can be difficult to precisely align the openings in a sheet of hex material with the corresponding nozzles in a thin nozzle sheet. Misalignment of the openings of the hex material with the nozzles in the nozzle sheet can cause the air leaving the nozzles to do so in less uniform and parallel streams. Also, adding two sheets of the hex material to each plenum increases the cost of manufacturing and assembling each plenum.

SUMMARY

[0010] One embodiment is directed to an oven for heating fibers. The oven comprises a supply structure disposed within the oven between first and second ends of the oven. The supply structure comprises a plurality of plenums stacked one above each other with gaps therebetween. The plenums are in fluid communication with a heating system. At least one plenum comprises at least one side wall comprising a plurality of passages formed therein, said at least one plenum configured to direct at least a portion of the heated gas into an interior of the oven from the plurality of passages. Each of the plurality of passages formed in said at least one plenum has a respective tapered cross-sectional shape.

[0011] Another embodiment is directed to a method of heating fibers using an oven. The method comprises supplying heated gas to a supply structure disposed within an interior of the oven. The supply structure comprises a plurality of plenums stacked one above each other with gaps therebetween. The method further comprises directing at least a portion of the heated gas into the interior of the oven from passages formed in at least one side wall of at least one plenum, said passages having a tapered cross-sectional shape.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 illustrates a portion of one example of a conventional nozzle sheet.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the nozzle sheet shown FIG. 1.

[0014] FIG. 3 illustrates a portion of a sheet of hex honeycomb material.

[0015] FIG. 4 illustrates the hex honeycomb material of FIG. 3 placed on the outer surface of the nozzle sheet shown in FIGS. 1-2.

[0016] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of one exemplary embodiment of an oven.

[0017] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the oven shown in FIG. 5 with the top wall removed from the chamber of the oven.

[0018] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional plan view of the oven shown in FIG. 5.

[0019] FIG. 8 is illustrates details of the center supply structure of the oven shown in FIG. 5.

[0020] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional plan view of one exemplary embodiment of a supply plenum.

[0021] FIG. 10 is a side view of one side wall of the supply plenum shown in FIG. 9.

[0022] FIG. 11 illustrates a portion of the side wall shown in FIG. 10 in more detail.

[0023] FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the portion of the side wall shown in FIG. 11.

[0024] FIG. 13 is a detailed view of one of the nozzles shown in FIG. 12.

[0025] FIG. 14 is a flow diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a method of heating fibers by contact with heated gas.

[0026] FIG. 15 illustrates one alternative tapered cross-sectional nozzle shape.

[0027] FIG. 16 illustrates another example oven that provides a consistent airflow through a substrate heating volume.

[0028] FIG. 17 illustrates an example side wall and the passages.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0029] FIGS. 5-7 illustrate one exemplary embodiment of an oxidation oven 500 in which the nozzle plates described below can be used. It is to be understood, however, that the nozzle plates described below can be used in other oxidations ovens. [0030] The oxidation oven 500 shown in FIGS. 5-7 is suitable for use in producing carbon fibers using an oxidation process of the type described above. For example, the exemplary embodiment of an oxidation oven 500 shown in FIGS. 5-7 can be used in oxidation processes that make use of one or multiple ovens (for example, in a stacked configuration) as is known to those of skill in the art.

[0031] One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that, for the sake of brevity and clarity, various conventional features used in oxidation ovens have been omitted from the figures and the following description. Examples of such features include, without limitation, baffles, ducts, vanes, vents, and the like used to adjust the flow of gas within the oven 500, vestibules and exhaust features to reduce the discharge of undesirable processes gases into the ambient environment, and/or insulation, louvers, and other thermal features to improve the thermal efficiency of the oven 500. It is to be understood that the exemplary oven 500 shown in FIGS. 5-7 can include such features

[0032] In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-7, the oven 500 comprises an oven chamber 502 in which the oxidation of fiber segments take place. In this exemplary embodiment, the oven chamber 502 is defined by a plurality of walls. The walls that define the oxidation chamber 502 include a top wall 504, a bottom wall 506, two side walls 508 and 510 along respective sides 512 and 514 of the chamber 502, and two end walls 516 and 518 at respective ends 520 and 522 of the chamber 502. A respective entry for the fiber is formed in each of the end walls 516 and 518. Each entry is formed by a plurality of slots, which extend between first and second sides 512 and 514 of the chamber 502, and through which the fibrous segments heated by the oxidation oven 500 are drawn. The entries and slots can be formed in a conventional manner.

[0033] The oven 500 also comprises a heating system 524. The heating system 524 is used to supply heated gas into the chamber 502. In this exemplary embodiment, the gas that is used is ambient air.

[0034] The heating system 524 can be implemented in various ways. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-7, the heating systems 524 is implemented using at least one heater 526 (shown in FIG. 7), a blower 528 (shown in FIG. 7) to draw gas through the heater 526, and a motor 530 to power the blower 528. Each heater 526 can be implemented in various ways. For example, each heater 526 can be implemented using one or more heating elements. Also, each heater 526 can be implemented using an indirect gas heater, an electric heater, or combinations thereof. Each heater 526 can be implemented in other ways.

[0035] The heating system 524 can be controlled, for example, using one or more suitable controllers (such as proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers). [0036] The oven 500 includes a supply structure 532 disposed within the interior of the chamber 502 between the ends 520 and 522 of the chamber 502. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-7, the oven 500 is a center-to-ends oxidation oven in which heated gas is supplied from the center of the oxidation chamber 502 towards the ends 520 and 522 of the chamber 502. In this exemplary embodiment, the supply structure 532 is disposed within the interior of the chamber 502 at or near the center of the chamber 502 between the ends 502 and 522 and is also referred to here as the "center supply structure" 532.

[0037] In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-7, the center supply structure 532 comprises a plurality of supply plenums 534 that are stacked one above each other with gaps therebetween.

[0038] The center supply structure 532 is shown in more detail in FIG. 8. Gaps 536 (shown in FIG. 8) are provided between the stacked supply plenums 534 to enable passage of the fibrous segments between the plenums 534.

[0039] More details regarding the supply plenums 534 are provided below in connection with the description of FIGS. 9-13.

[0040] The plenums 534 are in fluid communication at one or both of their ends with a supply duct 538 (shown in FIGS. 6 and 7) in order to receive heated gas from the heating system 524. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-7, each plenum 534 is configured to receive heated air through one of its ends (though it is to be understood that in other embodiments, each plenum receives heated air through both of its ends).

[0041] The supply duct 538 can be appropriately tapered or provided with adjustable slots or other features (not shown) to adjust the flow heated gas so that the velocity of heated gases exiting the plenums 534 is substantially uniform.

[0042] Each oven 500 also includes two return structures 540 within the oxidation chamber 502. One return structure 540 is positioned near the first end wall 516, and the other return structure 540 is positioned near the second end wall 518. Each of the return structures 540 includes a plurality of return channels that are each stacked one above another and that are positioned to generally correspond with the positions of corresponding plenums 534 of the center supply structure 532. Gaps are provided between the return channels to enable passage of fibrous segments between the return channels.

[0043] The return channels of each return structure 540 are configured to receive at least a portion of the gas directed from the center supply structure 532 toward that return structure 540. That is, each return structure 540 receives gas directed from one side of the plenums 534 in the center supply structure 532 toward that return structure 540.

[0044] A return duct 542 is used to establish fluid communication between each return structure 540 and the heating system 524. In this way, at least a portion of the heated gas received by the return structures 540 is directed back to the heating system 524 to be heated and supplied to the plenums 534 via the supply ducts 538 as described above.

[0045] In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 5-7, the return ducts 542 are located within the walls of the chamber 502. However, it is to be understood that the return ducts 542 can be implemented in other ways (for example, by positioning at least a portion of the return ducts 542 outside of the walls of the chamber 502).

[0046] In the exemplary embodiment described here in connection with FIGS. 5-7, each of the plenums 534 is implemented as shown in FIGS. 9-13. Each plenum 534 is supplied with heated gas at a first end 900 of the plenum 534. The heated gas is supplied from a supply duct 538.

[0047] Each plenum 534 is generally rectangular in cross section and extends horizontally between, but spaced from the side walls 508 and 510 of the chamber 502. As shown in FIG. 10, each plenum 534 has passages 902 formed in the side walls 904 of the plenum 534. These passages 902 are also referred to here as the "nozzles" 902. In this exemplary embodiment, each side wall 904 of each plenum 534 is implemented using a plate as described below in more detail in connection with FIGS. 10-12 (and these plates are also referred to here as "nozzle plates" 904).

[0048] The passage formed in the nozzle plate 904 for each nozzle 902 has an inlet opening 908 (shown in FIGS. 12-13) into which air supplied to the plenum 534 enters and has an outlet opening 910 (shown in FIGS. 12-13) from which the supplied air exits and is discharged into the chamber 502 of the oven 500. The outlet openings 910 for the nozzles 902 face the respective ends 520 and 522 of the chamber 502.

[0049] The nozzles 902 extend across the width of the plenum 534. The nozzles 902 are constructed and arranged so as to direct the flow of the received heated gas in approximately horizontal and parallel streams of heated gas toward the ends 520 and 522 of the oxidation chamber 502. The streams of gas are directed alongside each fibrous segment that traverses that portion of the oxidation chamber 502.

[0050] Each plenum 534 includes one or more baffles 906 that are disposed within the interior of the plenum 534 between the nozzle plates 904 of the plenum 534. In this exemplary embodiment, the baffles 906 are arranged in a V-shape as shown in FIG. 9, with the tip portion of the V-shape located near the end 900 where heated gas is supplied to the plenum 534. This V-shaped arrangement of the baffles 906 is generally designed to direct the flow of the received heated gas out of the nozzles 902 in a uniform manner.

[0051] FIG. 10 illustrates the nozzles 902 formed in one of the nozzle plates 904 of the plenum 534. In this exemplary embodiment, the nozzles 502 are formed in both nozzle plates 904 the same way (though only the nozzles 902 for one of the nozzle plates 904 are shown). FIG. 11 illustrates a portion of the nozzle plate 904 shown in FIG. 10 in more detail. FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the portion of the nozzle plate 904 shown in FIG. 11. FIG. 13 is a detailed view of one of the nozzles 902 shown in FIG. 12.

[0052] The nozzles 902 can be formed in the nozzle plates 904, for example, by drilling and machining the passages for the nozzles 902 and/or by using a casting process to produce the nozzle plates 904 with the passages for the nozzles 902 formed in the nozzle plates 904. The nozzles 902 can be formed in the nozzle plates 904 in other ways.

[0053] As shown in FIG. 12, in this exemplary embodiment the nozzle plate 904 is much thicker than conventional perforated nozzle sheets. For example, the nozzle plate 904 can have a thickness that is greater than 0.25 inches. The nozzle plate 904 can be made out of aluminum or similar material suitable for use in an oven.

[0054] Also, each nozzle 902 is formed in the nozzle plate 904 with a round opening (shown in FIG. 11) and with a tapered cross-sectional shape (shown in FIGS. 12-13). The tapered cross- sectional shape of each nozzle 902 has an inlet opening 908 that is larger than the corresponding outlet opening 910 of each nozzle 902.

[0055] In this exemplary embodiment, the tapered cross-sectional shape for each nozzle 902 comprises a tapered section 912 that extends from the inlet opening 908 of the nozzle 902 for at least a portion of the width of the nozzle plate 904. Each nozzle 902 also includes a straight section 914 that extends from the end of the tapered section 912 to the outlet opening 910 of that nozzle 904.

[0056] Air supplied to each plenum 534 would tend to travel parallel to the side walls 904 of the plenum 534. However, the air interacts with the baffle 906 as it passes through the plenum 534 and, as a result, at least a portion of the air is directed into the inlet opening 908 of each nozzle 902 as the air passes across the plenum 534.

[0057] In this exemplary embodiment, the tapered section 912 of each nozzle 902 has a curved or beveled edge 916 along the inlet opening 908. The curved or beveled edge 916 helps enable air that is flowing past the nozzle 902 to enter that nozzle 902. The tapered section 912 of each nozzle gradually re-directs the air that enters the nozzle 902, whereas the straight section 914 of each nozzle 902 stabilizes and aligns the air so that it flows out of the outlet opening 910 of the nozzle 902 in uniform streams.

[0058] By not using such sheets of hex honeycomb material, the difficult task of precisely aligning the openings in each sheet of hex material with the corresponding nozzles in the thin perforated nozzle sheet can be avoided, as well as the problems that can arise from any such misalignment. Also, the costs of manufacturing and assembling each plenum 534 can be reduced by not adding two sheets of hex honeycomb material to the plenum 534.

[0059] Moreover, the tapered cross-sectional shape of the nozzles 902, combined with the thicker nozzle plate 904, helps the air leaving the nozzles 902 to do so in more uniform and parallel streams of air, without using the sheets of hex honeycomb material

[0060] Furthermore, by not using perforated sheets, the same degree of uniformity in the resulting air streams can be achieved with a reduced static pressure.

[0061] Also, by not using sheets of hex honeycomb material, the shape and arrangement of the outlet openings 910 of the nozzles 902 do not have to accommodate the openings in a hex honeycomb material layered over the nozzle plate 904.

[0062] FIG. 14 is a flow diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a method 1400 of heating fibers by contact with heated gas. The embodiment of method 1400 shown in FIG. 14 is described here as being implemented using the exemplary embodiment of an oxidation oven 500 and nozzle plate 904 described above in connection with FIGS. 5-13. However, it is to be understood that other embodiments can be implemented in other ways.

[0063] Method 1400 comprises supplying heated gas to the supply structure 532 disposed within the interior of the oven 500, where the supply structure 532 comprises a plurality of plenums 534 stacked one above each other with gaps 536 therebetween (block 1402). In this exemplary embodiment, the heated gas is supplied from the heating system 528 to each plenum 534 via the supply duct 538.

[0064] Method 1400 further comprises directing at least a portion of the heated gas into the interior of the oven 502 from nozzles 902 formed in at least one side wall 904 of at least one of the plenums 534, where said nozzles 902 have a tapered cross-sectional shape (block 1404). The heated gas flows out of the nozzles 902 in approximately horizontal and parallel streams of heated gas toward the ends 520 and 522 of the oxidation chamber 502 alongside each fibrous segment that traverses that portion of the oxidation chamber 502.

[0065] In this exemplary embodiment, at least a portion of the heated gas is directed into inlet openings 908 of the nozzles 902 and at least a portion of the heated gas is directed into the interior of the oven 500 from outlet openings 910 of the nozzles 902. Also, in this example, at least a portion of the heated gas that is directed into the inlet openings 908 of the nozzles 902 is directed along the curved or beveled edges 916 formed along the inlet openings 908 and into tapered sections 912 of the nozzles 902. Moreover, in this example, at least a portion of the heated gas that is directed into the interior of the oven 500 from outlet openings 910 of the nozzles 902 is directed into straight sections 914 of the nozzles 902 prior to being discharged into the interior of the oven 500.

[0066] The embodiments described above are merely exemplary and are not intended to be limiting.

[0067] It is to be understood that the tapered cross-sectional shape of the nozzles 902 can be implemented in other ways. FIG. 15 illustrates one alternative tapered cross-sectional shape of nozzle 1502 that can be used in the plenum 534 described above. The nozzle 1502 is generally the same as the nozzle 902 described above in connection with FIGS. 9-13 except as described below.

[0068] In this example embodiment, the tapered section 1512 of the nozzle 1502 extends from the inlet opening 1508 of the nozzle 1502 to the outlet opening 1510 of the nozzle 1502 and does not include a straight section. Also, as with the embodiment described above in connection with FIGS. 9-14, the tapered section 1512 of each nozzle 1502 has a curved or beveled edge 1516 along the inlet opening 1508.

[0069] Other tapered cross-sectional shapes can be used.

[0070] In the exemplary embodiments described above, each plenum 534 is supplied with heated gas from a single side. However, in other embodiments, the plenums in the center supply structure are supplied with gas from both sides.

[0071] Moreover, in the example embodiments described above, the cross-sectional shapes of all nozzles are the same. However, in other embodiments, this is not the case and the size and shapes of the nozzles can vary from nozzle to nozzle within a given plenum and can vary from plenum to plenum within a given supply structure. Also, in the example embodiments described above, each plenum is shown as having two sides walls where both sides walls have nozzles formed therein with a tapered cross-sectional shape as described above. However, this need not be the case (for example, only one of the side walls can have nozzles formed therein with a tapered cross-sectional shape as described above). Furthermore, in the exemplary embodiments described above, each plenum in the center supply structure has the same configuration and design. However, this need not be the case and, instead, one or more plenums included in the center supply structure can have configurations and/or designs that differ from one or more other plenums included in the center supply structure.

[0072] FIG. 16 illustrates another example oven 1600 that provides a consistent airflow through a substrate heating volume 1602. The example oven 1600 of FIG. 16 uses nozzles similar or identical to the nozzles disclosed above. The oven 1600 may be closed or sealed to external airflow. Instead of heating carbon fiber as in the example oven 500 of FIGS. 5-7, the example oven 1600 may heat and/or otherwise provide airflow to stationary objects placed in the substrate heating volume 1602.

[0073] The oven 1600 includes the substrate heating volume 1602, a heating system 1604, and a plenum 1608. The plenum 1608 includes a side wall 1610, which is positioned between the plenum 1608 and the substrate heating volume 1602. Thus the side wall 1610 is also a side wall of the substrate heating volume 1602. The side wall 1610 has passages 1612 formed in the side wall 1610 to permit heated gas 1606 to flow from the plenum 1608 to the substrate heating volume 1602. The plenum 1608 directs the heated gas 1606 into the substrate heating volume 1602 from the plurality of passages 1612. Each of the passages 1612 formed in the plenum 1608 has a respective tapered cross-sectional shape. The side wall 1610 and the passages 1612 distribute the gas substantially evenly through the substrate heating volume 1602.

[0074] The heated gas 1606 may be directed over and/or impinge on one or more substrates 1616 in the substrate heating volume 1602. In the illustrated examples, there are multiple levels of substrates 1616 in the substrate heating volume, and the heated gas 1606 flows from the side wall 1610 over the substrates 1616.

[0075] FIG. 17 illustrates an example side wall 1610 and the passages 1612. Examples of the passages 1612 are shaped as shown in FIGS. 11, 12, 13, and/or 15. As shown in FIG. 17, the passages 1612 are distributed over the side wall 1610 using one or more repeating patterns. The one or more repeating patterns may include an arrangement of the passages 1612 over the side wall 1610 to optimize the distribution of the heated gas over a load area in the substrate heating. As used herein, an "optimal distribution" of the heated gas refers to having substantially same volume of air going over the operable surfaces and/or substantially a same amount of heat dissipated by devices in the air stream. In some examples, volumes of air flow are considered substantially the same when the volumes are within +15%. In some examples, two or more levels of heat dissipation are substantially the same when the heat dissipation is within +15%.

[0076] Returning to FIG. 16, the substrate heating volume 1602 also includes a return structure 1614 opposite the plenum 1608. The return structure 1612 directs at least a portion of the heated gas 1606 out of the substrate heating volume 1602. The return structure 1614 is to direct the at least the portion of the heated gas to the heating system.

[0077] As discussed above with reference to FIGS. 11, 12, 13, and 15, each of the passages 1612 in the example side wall 1610 includes a respective inlet opening 908 and a respective outlet opening 910. One or more of the passages 1612 may have a tapered section 912 extending from the inlet opening 908. One or more of the passages 1612 may also include a curved or beveled edge 916 along the inlet opening 908. In some examples, one or more of the passages 1612 include the tapered section 912 extending from the inlet opening 908 and a straight section 914 extending from the end of the tapered section 912 to the outlet opening 910.

[0078] In some examples, the side wall 1610 has a sections in which there are no passages, which may be located between other sections that have the passages. For example, sections lacking the passages 1612 may be positioned where the substrates 1616 are located (e.g., vertically even with the levels of substrates 1616). The side wall 1610 may have a first section having first passages 1612, a second section having second passages 1612, and a third section between the first and second sections not having the passages 1612.

[0079] As illustrated in FIG. 16, the plenum 1608 is tapered from a gas input location 1618 of the plenum 1608 toward an opposite end of the plenum. The side wall 1610 is configured to output the heated gas 1606 from the passages 1612 at a substantially uniform volume. During operation, the example heating system 1604 controls a static pressure of the plenum 1608 to provide the substantially uniform volume of gas flow over the face of the side wall 1610. In some examples, the heating system 1604 (e.g., via a fan) maintains the plenum 1608 at at least 0.3 inches water column of static pressure over the entirety of the side wall 1610. In some other examples, the heating system 1604 (e.g., via a fan) maintains the plenum 1608 at at least 0.5 inches water column of static pressure over the entirety of the side wall 1610.

[0080] In some examples, the oven 1600 is further provided with a cooling coil or other gas cooling system between the return structure 1614 and the heating system 1604. [0081] A number of embodiments have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications to the described embodiments may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the claimed invention.

EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS

[0082] Example 1 includes an oven for heating fibers, the oven comprising: a supply structure disposed within the oven between first and second ends of the oven, the supply structure comprising a plurality of plenums stacked one above each other with gaps therebetween, wherein the plenums are in fluid communication with a heating system; wherein at least one plenum comprises at least one side wall comprising a plurality of passages formed therein, said at least one plenum configured to direct at least a portion of the heated gas into an interior of the oven from the plurality of passages; and wherein each of the plurality of passages formed in said at least one plenum has a respective tapered cross-sectional shape.

[0083] Example 2 includes the oven of Example 1, wherein each of the passages formed in said at least one side wall of said at least one plenum comprises a respective inlet opening and a respective outlet opening.

[0084] Example 3 includes the oven of Example 2, wherein, for at least one of the passages, the respective inlet opening is larger than the respective outlet opening.

[0085] Example 4 includes the oven of any of Examples 2-3, wherein at least one of the passages formed in said at least one side wall of said at least one plenum comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening.

[0086] Example 5 includes the oven of Example 4, wherein said at least one of the passages comprising the tapered section further comprises a curved or beveled edge along the respective inlet opening.

[0087] Example 6 includes the oven of any of Examples 2-5, wherein at least one of the passages formed in said at least one side wall of said at least one plenum comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening and a straight section extending from an end of the tapered section to the respective outlet opening.

[0088] Example 7 includes the oven of any of Examples 1-6, wherein honeycomb material is not placed on an outer surface of said at least one plenum.

[0089] Example 8 includes the oven of any of Examples 1-7, wherein said at least one side wall is at least 0.25 inches thick. [0090] Example 9 includes a method of heating fibers using an oven, the method comprising: supplying heated gas to a supply structure disposed within an interior of the oven, the supply structure comprising a plurality of plenums stacked one above each other with gaps therebetween; and directing at least a portion of the heated gas into the interior of the oven from passages formed in at least one side wall of at least one plenum, said passages having a tapered cross-sectional shape.

[0091] Example 10 includes the method of Example 9, wherein directing at least a portion of the heated gas into the interior of the oven from said passages comprises: directing at least a portion of the heated gas into inlet openings of said passages; and directing at least a portion of the heated gas into the interior of the oven from outlet openings of said passages.

[0092] Example 11 includes the method of Example 10, wherein, for at least one of said passages, the respective inlet opening is larger than the respective outlet opening.

[0093] Example 12 includes the method of any of Examples 10-11, wherein at least one of said passages comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening.

[0094] Example 13 includes the method of any of Examples 10-12, wherein directing at least a portion of the heated gas into inlet openings of said passages comprises: directing at least a portion of the heated gas along curved or beveled edges formed along inlet openings of said passages.

[0095] Example 14 includes the method of any of Examples 10-13, wherein directing at least a portion of the heated gas into inlet openings of said passages comprises: directing at least a portion of the heated gas into tapered sections of said passages.

[0096] Example 15 includes the method of any of Examples 10-14, wherein directing at least a portion of the heated gas into the interior of the oven from outlet openings of said passages comprises: directing at least a portion of the heated gas into straight sections of said passages prior to discharging the heated gas into the interior of the oven.

[0097] Example 16 includes an oven, comprising: a heating system to heat gas; a substrate heating volume; and a plenum comprising a side wall having a plurality of passages formed therein. The plenum is configured to direct heated gas into the substrate heating volume from the plurality of passages, and each of the plurality of passages formed in the plenum has a respective tapered cross- sectional shape.

[0098] Example 17 includes the oven of Example 16, wherein the substrate heating volume includes a return structure opposite the plenum to direct at least a portion of the heated gas out of the substrate heating volume. [0099] Example 18 includes the oven of Example 17, wherein the return structure is to direct at least a portion of the heated gas to the heating system.

[00100] Example 19 includes the oven of any of Examples 16-18, wherein the plurality of passages are distributed using one or more repeating patterns over the side wall.

[00101] Example 20 includes the oven of Example 19, wherein the one or more repeating patterns comprise an arrangement of the passages over the side wall to optimize the distribution of the heated gas over a load area in the substrate heating volume.

[00102] Example 21 includes the oven of any of Examples 16-20, wherein the side wall comprises a first section having first ones of the passages and a second section of the side wall having second ones of the passages, the side wall comprising a third section between the first section of the side wall and the second section of the side wall, the third section of the side wall not having passages for directing the heated gas.

[00103] Example 22 includes the oven of any of Examples 16-21, wherein each of the passages formed in the side wall of the plenum comprises a respective inlet opening and a respective outlet opening.

[00104] Example 23 includes the oven of Example 22, wherein at least one of the passages formed in the side wall of the plenum comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening.

[00105] Example 24 includes the oven of Example 23, wherein the at least one of the passages comprising the tapered section further comprises a curved or beveled edge along the respective inlet opening.

[00106] Example 25 includes the oven of any of Examples 22-24, wherein at least one of the passages formed in the side wall of the plenum comprises a tapered section extending from the respective inlet opening and a straight section extending from an end of the tapered section to the respective outlet opening.

[00107] Example 26 includes the oven of any of Examples 16-25, wherein the plenum is tapered from a gas input location of the plenum toward an opposite end of the plenum.

[00108] Example 27 includes the oven of Example 26, wherein the side wall is configured to output the gas from the plurality of passages at a substantially uniform volume.

[00109] Example 28 includes the oven of any of Examples 16-27, and further comprises an air circulator configured to generate at least 0.3 inches water column of static pressure over the entirety of the side wall opposite the substrate heating area. [00110] Example 29 includes the oven of any of Examples 16-27, and further comprises an air circulator configured to generate at least 0.5 inches water column of static pressure over the entirety of the side wall opposite the substrate heating area.

[00111] Example 30 is a method for heating a substrate in an oven, comprising: supplying heated gas to a supply structure disposed within an interior of the oven, the supply structure comprising a plenum; and directing at least a portion of the heated gas to a substrate heating volume in the interior of the oven via passages formed in a side wall of the plenum, the passages having tapered cross- sectional shapes.

[00112] Example 31 includes the method of Example 30, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises: directing at least the portion of the heated gas into inlet openings of the passages; and directing at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume from outlet openings of the passages.

[00113] Example 32 includes the method of Example 31, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises: directing at least the portion of the heated gas into inlet openings of the passages; and directing at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume from outlet openings of the passages.

[00114] Example 33 includes the method of Example 31, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the inlet openings of the passages comprises: directing at least the portion of the heated gas along curved or beveled edges formed along the inlet openings of the passages.

[00115] Example 34 includes the method of Example 31, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the inlet openings of the passages comprises: directing the at least the portion of the heated gas into tapered sections of the passages.

[00116] Example 35 includes the method of Example 31, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume from the outlet openings of the passages comprises: directing the at least the portion of the heated gas into straight sections of the passages prior to discharging the heated gas into the substrate heating volume.

[00117] Example 36 includes the method of any of Examples 30-35, and further comprises recirculating the at least the portion of the heated gas from the substrate heating volume to the plenum via a return structure.

[00118] Example 37 includes the method of any of Examples 30-36, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises: directing at least the portion of the heated gas into one or more repeating patterns of the passages over the side wall.

[00119] Example 38 includes the method of any of Examples 30-37, wherein the directing of at least the portion of the heated gas into the substrate heating volume via the passages comprises directing the at least the portion of the heated gas at a substantially uniform volume through the passages.

[00120] While the present method and/or system has been described with reference to certain implementations, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present method and/or system. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the present disclosure without departing from its scope. Therefore, the present method and/or system are not limited to the particular implementations disclosed. Instead, the present method and/or system will include all implementations falling within the scope of the appended claims, both literally and under the doctrine of equivalents.