Kueppers Solutions wins Efficiency Award NRW 2019

Kueppers Solutions GmbH from Gelsenkirchen wins Efficiency Award NRW for innovative and resource-conserving mixing unit for gas burners produced in 3D printing

Kueppers Solutions GmbH from Gelsenkirchen today won the Efficiency Awars NRW for a new mixing unit for gas burners manufactured in 3D pressure, which can be operated without excess air in the control range and thus significantly reduces nitrogen oxide emissions.

The “Efficiency Award NRW – The Resource-Efficient Product” is awarded by the Efficiency Agency NRW, which works on behalf of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of the Environment. The prize honours innovative products and services from small and medium-sized enterprises in North Rhine-Westphalia that combine key efficiency factors – such as resource-saving product development, environmentally compatible production and reduced environmental impact during the product’s life, as well as comprehensive recyclability. The prize is endowed with a total of 20,000 euros.

Kueppers Solutions GmbH is one of four main winners of the Efficiency Award NRW. The award was presented today at the German Sport & Olympia Museum in Cologne by Ursula Heinen-Esser, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of the Environment. In addition to the four main prizes, the jury of experts also awarded a special prize.

Resource efficiency from the 3D printer

In Germany alone, around two million gas-fired industrial burners are in use. With these burners, steel mills, paint shops, large bakeries, machine builders and other companies emit around one-sixth of the annual carbon dioxide emissions and pollute our environment with nitrogen oxides. In the Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (TA Luft), the exhaust emission limits for industry are laid down; the nitrogen oxide emission limit is generally 350 milligrams per standard cubic meter of exhaust gas.

Because this is not easy for companies with gas-powered plants to achieve, many companies operate their burners with more air than necessary to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. However, the process requires more energy.

This is where the solution from Kueppers Solutions comes in: Together with the Institute for Technical Combustion at RWTH Aachen University, the Gas and Heat Institute in Essen and the Chair for Energy Systems and Energy Process Technology at Ruhr University Bochum, the company has developed a new mixing unit for gas burners. This was made possible by another technical innovation: 3D printing.

With this new technology the realization of the mixing unit required for the project could be brought to the point. “Our development would not have been practical without metallic 3D printing,” explains Jens te Kaat, owner and managing director of Kueppers Solutions GmbH. The Chair of Digital Additive Production DAP at RWTH Aachen University successfully put three-dimensional printing into practice. Te Kaat comments: “The mixing unit produces a precisely dosed gas-air mixture that reduces the emission of nitrogen oxides. This process enables us to save a lot of money: nitrogen oxides, gas, carbon dioxide and, ultimately, money.

New process sustainably reduces nitrogen oxide emissions

The tests have shown that burners can be built which fall short of the current limit value by more than a factor of 10. This means that they emit only 30 milligrams of nitrogen oxides. “We make sure that nitrogen oxides are not produced in the first place,” is how te Kaat sums up his approach.

Another aspect makes the innovation developed by te Kaat interesting for its customers: Existing thermoprocessing plants do not have to be completely replaced, but can be optimized by replacing the burner. The investment costs are kept within limits and the plant becomes a completely sustainable product through the use of existing components.

Kueppers Solutions has 28 employees. On the other hand, there are around two million burners that could be retrofitted with the new technology in Germany alone. The company cannot supply all interested parties itself, which is why it wants to act as a supplier for renowned manufacturers of burners. The manufacturers – so the idea – install the mixing units manufactured by Kueppers Solutions in their own burners. Such supplier cooperations have a long tradition in the automotive industry, but such a business model is new in thermal process technology. All that is needed is a network of powerful 3D printing operators. Jens te Kaat is already building up this network.

The advantages also convinced the jury of the Efficiency Award NRW. “The new mixing unit for gas burners reduces energy consumption and nitrogen oxide emissions efficiently and sustainably and is very easy to use. That alone is worth the prize. In addition, however, we were also convinced that the product had become possible through the application of a new production technology. The 3D printing ensures that the mixing units can be produced precisely and easily,” explained jury member Dr. Thomas Delschen, President of the NRW State Office for Nature, the Environment and Consumer Protection.

Innovative design and nitrogen oxide reduction convinced efficiency award jury

This aspect also convinced the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, as the company also received funding from the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) of the Federal Ministry of Economics for the development of this innovative product. It was supported in this by the financial advice of the Efficiency Agency NRW.

Further winners of the 2019 Efficiency Award NRW

Kueppers Solutions GmbH is one of four main winners of the 2019 Efficiency Award NRW. Other main prizes went to UTK Solution GmbH from Lüdenscheid for a resource-efficient suction and rinsing system for operations, the Wuppertal textile label wijld for garments made of sustainable wood fibres and ZINQ® Technologie GmbH from Gelsenkirchen for a material-saving galvanizing process. In addition, master painter Peter Fuchs from Neunkirchen-Seelscheid was awarded a special prize for a mobile filter system for cleaning building facades.

A jury of seven experts evaluated around 40 entries for the Efficiency Award and decided on the most efficient products and services. The prize is endowed with 20,000 euros.

In cooperation with the NRW Consumer Centre, students and graduates from universities in NRW were also awarded the “MehrWert NRW” prize for the development of resource-saving products for the second time on 19 November.

Further information about the price: www.effizienzpreis-nrw.de