WACKER Honors Researchers for the Development of High-Temperature-Resistant Silicone Fluids
Burghausen, Oct 20, 2017
Yesterday, Wacker Chemie AG presented the “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” to Erich Schaffer, Dr. Steffen Dörrich, Dr. Florian Hoffmann and Dr. Harald Voit for their research into the behavior of silicones at high temperatures. The four specialists developed silicone fluids with resistance to high temperatures as part of their work at the Group’s in-house research center, the “Consortium für elektrochemische Industrie.” The first product, HELISOL®, can be heated up to 425 degrees Celsius, while its viscosity remains low even at -40 degrees Celsius. Used in solar thermal power plants, the fluid enables efficiency levels that are impossible to achieve with conventional heat-transfer media. This year, the €10,000 innovation award – now in its twelfth year at WACKER – focused on basic research.
Given the brand name HELISOL®, the first product to emerge as a result of this research activity is used as a heat-transfer medium in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. Here, reflecting parabolic troughs concentrate sunlight onto pipes filled with a heat-transfer medium. The level of efficiency of such CSP plants primarily depends on this heat-transfer medium’s heat resistance.
HELISOL® can withstand warmer – by some 30 degrees – operating temperatures than existing standard products. At the same time, the silicone fluid’s freezing point of -55 degrees Celsius is far lower than that of conventional heat-transfer media. This renders trace heating, which is usually required, unnecessary and thus considerably reduces energy consumption. As a result, the efficiency of CSP plants increases, in turn making the production of energy significantly cheaper. More than 2,000 metric tons of HELISOL® have already been used in an industrial CSP plant.
“With our hyperpure polysilicon, we have become a key player in the production of clean solar energy. The research honored today is helping us expand our product portfolio in the field of sustainable energy generation and, at the same time, support efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Auguste Willems, Wacker Chemie AG Executive Board member, who presented the award to the team of developers at the Group’s annual R&D symposium in Burghausen (Germany). This year marked the event’s 45th anniversary.
About the “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award”
Since 2005, the Munich-based chemical company has honored employees’ outstanding R&D work at its annual research symposium. Named after the company’s founder, the €10,000 “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award” is bestowed alternately in the categories of product innovation, process innovation and basic research.
Innovation Award 2017
WACKER Executive Board members Dr. Tobias Ohler and Dr. Rudolf Staudigl (1st and 2nd from left) as well as Dr. Christian Hartel and Auguste Willems (1st and 2nd from right) with this year’s winners of the “Alexander Wacker Innovation Award”: Dr. Harald Voit, Dr. Steffen Dörrich, Erich Schaffer und Dr. Florian Hoffmann (from left to right).Order photo
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