WPX Faserkeramik: HTGF invests into energy efficiency in metal refining

January 23, 2014

The European market volume for industrial heat treatment of metals exceeds EUR 25 bn annually.

Conventional kiln furniture for industrial furnaces is typically made of metals or ceramics. This causes significant costs due to energy inefficiency, equipment downtime and wearout, and deficient products. Both metals and ceramics waste a significant share of thermal output due to their heat capacity. Furthermore, metals show strong corrosion and warping at temperatures above 750 °C (1380 °F), and often cause Carbon contamination of products. Ceramics are extremely brittle against thermal and mechanical shocks, and fail catastrophically.

The Institute of Materials Research of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has developed the high performance ceramics fiber composite material Whipox® for heat shields and combustion turbine parts, which have to withstand highest mechanical, thermal, and chemical strains. Whipox® combines the positive attributes of metals and ceramics, while avoiding their abovementioned high temperature disadvantages.

The DLR spin-off WPX Faserkeramik GmbH utilizes the superior and unique combination of properties of Whipox® for applications in the industrial heat treatment of metals, and, perspectively, for components in the automotive exhaust path. Functional components and prototypes have been successfully tested and implemented in furnaces and as kiln furniture at established customers.

Prior to the incorporation of WPX Faserkeramik, the founders team has been supported by means of transfer projects of DLR Technologiemarketing, and by Helmholtz Enterprise Fonds.

Bernhard Kanka, CTO of WPX and inventor of Whipox® is convinced of its advantages for heat treatment applications: “We see excellent perspectives for Whipox® due to ever increased demands with respect to energy efficiency, process performance and product quality.”

Dr. Mathias Kunz, CEO of WPX, brings longtime experience in high-tech innovation management and the management of start-ups to the team. He has organized the seed financing of WPX through the HTGF investment.

„The DLR incubation of Whipox® has established an excellent technology base with subsequent proof of concept, and use by reknown players from the automotive industry”, says Kay Balster, HTGF Investment manager in charge. “Revenue growth of WPX evidences a huge demand for next generation refractories in the heat treatment of metals.”

About WPX Faserkeramik GmbH
WPX is a spin-off from the DLR Institute of Materials Research. It holds exclusive licenses for the high performance ceramic fiber composite material WHIPOX ® and develops products for high temperature applications, in particular for the industrial heat treatment of metals and for high temperature components in the exhaust gas systems of engines and combustion turbines. WPX cooperates with reknown partners in the automotive and metal processing industries.

WPX Faserkeramik GmbH
Dr. Mathias Kunz
Linder Hoehe, building 51
D-51147 Cologne, Germany
tel +49 (2203) 9479 201

About DLR German Aerospace Center
DLR is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for the nation’s largest project execution organisation.

DLR’s mission comprises the exploration of Earth and the Solar System and research for protecting the environment. This includes the development of environment-friendly technologies for energy supply and future mobility, as well as for communications and security. DLR’s research portfolio ranges from fundamental research to the development of products for tomorrow. DLR operates major research facilities for its own projects and as a service for clients and partners. It also fosters the development of the next generation of researchers, provides expert advisory services to government and is a driving force in the regions where its facilities are located.

DLR Technology Marketing forms the interface between research and industry. Its job is to handle cross-sectoral transfers of DLR technologies and foster contacts with innovative enterprises of any size, working in concert with DLR institutes and including industrial partners at the earliest possible time to turn research findings into usable technologies. It investigates markets and trends, develops innovative ideas, secures competitive advantages through property rights, concludes agreements on the commercial exploitation of DLR technologies, and provides assistance with the setting-up of DLR spin-offs.

About DLR Institute of Materials Research
The DLR Institute of Materials Research in Cologne focuses on the development of new material solutions and their processing techniques for applications in the aerospace industry, in the field of power engineering and the automotive sector. Together with other DLR institutes and national and international partners it is working on fundamental and applied research. The research portfolio extends over metallic structures, hybrid systems and intermetallics, ceramic structural materials, thermoelectric systems and high-temperature and functional layers. The development of numerical methods for the simulation of material supply behavior complements these skills with the aim to support the transfer of materials into industrial applications.

About the HTGF High-Tech Gruenderfonds
High-Tech Gruenderfonds invests in young, high potential high-tech start-ups. The seed financing provided is designed to enable start-ups to take an idea through prototyping and to market launch. Typically, High-Tech Gruenderfonds invests EUR 500,000 in the seed stage, with the potential for up to a total of EUR 2 million per portfolio company in follow-on financing. Investors in this public/private partnership include the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the KfW Banking Group, as well as strategic corporate investors including ALTANA, BASF, B. Braun, Robert Bosch, CEWE, Daimler, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, Evonik, Lanxess, media + more venture Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, METRO, Qiagen, RWE Innogy, SAP, Tengelmann and Carl Zeiss. High-Tech Gruenderfonds has about EUR 573.5 million under management in two funds (EUR 272 million HTGF I, EUR 301.5 million HTGF II).

High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Kay Balster
Investment Manager
Schlegelstraße 2
53113 Bonn
Tel: +49 (228) 823 001-12
Fax: +49 (228) 823 000-50


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