Heraeus Innovation Award 2012: New platinum compound and two process innovations take top honors
- Heraeus presented its 10th annual internal Innovation Award
- Best Product Innovation: Heraeus is blazing new trails with
platinum oxalate for the large-scale production of process catalysts Heraeus presented its 10th annual Innovation Awards for the best product and process innovations at a festive ceremony in Hanau in mid-November. The anniversary year saw a new precious metal product and innovations for cost optimization and recycling take top honors. Dr. Richard Walter from Heraeus Precious Metals won in the Best Product Innovation category for the industrial synthesis of platinum oxalate, which is used as a catalyst precursor for process catalysts in the chemical industry. Platinum oxalate is a new precious metal compound for Heraeus that until now has been unknown in the market on a commercial scale. There were two victors in the Best Process Innovation category. Dr. Jan Schapp, also from Heraeus Precious Metals, won for a new recycling process for fluorinated catalysts and products. The judging panel also chose to give equal recognition to Dr. Kyung Chung from Heraeus Materials Technology (USA) for a reduced fabrication cost process for metal-oxide materials. Two innovations tied for second place in the product category: components for medical implants made of magnetically hard, biocompatible precious metals alloys (Dr. Jörg- Martin Gebert, Heraeus Precious Metals) an antibiotic coating process for cementless arthroplasty that reduces the risk of infection with joint implants. (Dr. Ekaterini Copanaki, Heraeus Medical).
Ten years of the Innovation Award = 34 top innovations
Award winners were recognized at the ceremony by the Heraeus Board of Management. "Innovations are a key element of our growth strategy. And with our Innovation Award we actually would like to present those innovations and the people behind to a broad audience within the company. We also would like to celebrate and to honor those developers" emphasizes Dr. Frank Heinricht, Chairman of the Board of Management Heraeus Holding GmbH. Supervisory Board Chairman Dr. Jürgen Heraeus, patron of the event, is also very impressed with the Innovation Award winners: "We develop clever innovations for very technologicallychallenging niches. And many of our award-winning products and processes have led to improvements at our customers' companies."
In 2003 the awards ceremony took place on a very small scale, but it has since become an occasion with an Oscar-worthy celebration for more than 120 guests. The prestige associated with the Innovation Award has not diminished over time. All Heraeus researchers and developers worldwide are eligible to participate. This year, 21 projects were in the running. More than 210 product innovations have been submitted since the first competition, and a total of 34 products and processes have been awarded.
These have included sensors for the steel and aluminum industries, universal composites for dental fillings, organic electronics for touchscreens, precious metals catalysts to breakdown nitrous oxide, and infrared emitters for the solar cells. "Creating innovations, that's our slogan. With their ideas the people from Research and Development are preparing the base for the future growth of Heraeus", said Dr. Tanja Eckardt, Head of Innovation Management at Heraeus, thanking the winners.
The Innovation Award winners 2012 in detail:
Best Product Innovation: Large-scale technical synthesis of platinum oxalate
With the development of a new production process Heraeus can now produce platinum oxalate-a precious metal compound used as a precursor for process catalysts by the chemical industry-on a large scale for the first time. An international Heraeus development team led by Dr. Richard Walter (Heraeus Precious Metals) scaled up the synthesis from the laboratory to commercial production. "Platinum oxalate is thermally unstable and can decompose explosively when improperly exposed to heat. For that reason, we needed to develop a new process for large-scale technical production that minimizes safety risks while still guaranteeing a high reaction speed paired with excellent product quality. Our innovative reaction method plays a key role in process safety for the production of this chemical," explains Richard Walter. The process was modified so that the dark blue platinum oxalate synthesis can be conducted significantly below the compound's decomposition temperature, thereby solving the problem of unregulated decomposition. Heraeus is currently the only supplier of platinum oxalate, giving it a unique position in the market.
Best Process Innovation I: Recycling process for fluorinated catalysts and products
Fluoride is increasingly being used in the production of chemicals for agricultural use as well as the specialty electronics industry. Heraeus Precious Metals has had a recycling facility in Taicang, China, for three years that has served the Chinese chemical and pharmaceutical industries with two incineration lines. In order to meet new demand from the agrochemical industry, the location has recently been expanded. "The expansion is intended to specifically process used palladium catalysts containing fluoride from the agricultural industry. It was necessary to cover the growing demand for qualified incineration capacity in the Chinese market," states award winner Dr. Jan Schapp. The recycling facility serves the Chinese chemicals market with a state-of-the-art furnace system consisting of one combustion chamber with a customized temperature program, followed by an exhaust treatment system equipped with the latest technology. "The entire system is designed to resist the substantial fluoride content in the materials being processed, because fluorine is a highly reactive element that attacks almost every type of material," explains Schapp. The process innovation utilizes a special combination of different fluorine-resistant insulating liners in the construction of system components. Thanks to this process, Heraeus is currently the only recycling provider for fluorinated materials.
Best Process Innovation II: Reduced fabrication cost process for metal-oxide materials
After six years of intensive development work with a large engineering team around Kyung Chung, Heraeus Materials Technology in Chandler, Arizona, came up with a new proprietary manufacturing process for metaloxide based sputtering targets. The new fabrication method was successfully implemented several months ago and enables to enhance process efficiency and flexibility through the rearrangement and optimization of several manufacturing steps. Heraeus produces discshaped sputtering targets which are applied for coatings in magnetic data storage devices. Here special metal-containing materials are used for the recording layers.
Product Innovation - 2nd place: Antibiotic coating process for cementless arthroplasty
Around 1.4 million hip prosthetics were implanted worldwide in 2011. There are two methods for anchoring prosthetic implants: cementless and cemented. Cemented implants do not need to grow into the bone and can therefore bear weight immediately after the operation. Heraeus Medical offers a unique portfolio of bone cements containing antibiotics for a variety of applications. Dr. Ekaterini Copanaki from Heraeus Medical has developed an innovative process for coating cementless arthroplasty with antibiotics. The antibiotic is released directly from the implant at the operation site within the body over a defined period of time, preventing infections from taking hold. For the first time, this innovation (ready-to-use coating device) enables a very effective prophylactic application of antibiotic protection directly on the prosthesis. The coating device consists of two sponges saturated with a suspension containing the active substance that function as wipers and a space between the two sponges that serves as a reservoir for the suspension. During the coating process, the sponges containing the active substance evenly apply the suspension to the prosthesis and at the same time wipe away excess suspension.
Product Innovation - 2nd place: Components for medical implants made of magnetically hard, biocompatible precious metals alloys
Some 20 million patients worldwide suffer from advanced heart failure, which means the heart can no longer pump the necessary amount of blood through the body. Cardiac support systems are implanted in these patients, taking over the function of the still-beating heart to a great extent. With the help of these devices, patients can bridge the period until they receive a heart transplant, and can take part in everyday life again. Dr. Jörg-Martin Gebert from Heraeus Precious Metals developed a process for manufacturing the core component of these medical implants out of magnetically hard precious-metal alloys, enabling a particularly efficient and small-scale design for cardiac support systems. "Heraeus is opening up a new market segment with these medical technology components. Devising a manufacturing process required our team to develop groundbreaking new solutions for material and production technologies. Our customer receives a complete solution from Heraeus-biocompatible, compact, and efficient," Dr. Gebert proudly reports about his innovation. In the future, the entire production process of this component will be conducted at Heraeus which will guarantee the process control and quality of this critical component.
Heraeus Holding GmbH
Heraeus, the precious metals and technology group headquartered in Hanau, Germany, is a global, private company with over 160 years of tradition. Our fields of competence include precious metals, materials and technologies; sensors; biomaterials and medical products, as well as dental products, quartz glass, and specialty light sources. With product revenues of €4.8 billion and precious metals trading revenues of €21.3 billion, as well as more than 13,300 employees in over 120 subsidiaries worldwide, Heraeus holds a leading position in its global markets.
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