Developing innovative silicone hoses
Andreu Fernández ,Head of Business Development at Venair talks in an interview with clauster Mav about the potential and applications of silicone in multiple sectors, addressing what are the new trends and innovation capabilities that the company has for the development of our products that meet the technical specifications and needs of customers.
Venair has three major lines of business aimed at different industries: the food and pharmaceutical sector, biotechnology, and the industrial field. What kind of solutions do you offer in each of these sectors?
In the industrial field, we offer solutions for engines, especially for cooling systems, for the automotive, railroad, and aeronautical sectors. We also provide energy solutions for wind turbines and hydrogen tanks.
On the other hand, we have at the disposal of the pharmaceutical and food industry personalized solutions, from the conception to the manufacturing of the optimized tube, for the circulation of fluids or solids in production lines so that the customer can install and connect them directly.
Finally, we have opened an area of biotechnology, in which we provide single-use fluid kits hermetically packaged for the production of medicines and other pharmaceutical products manufactured in white salts with ISO7 certification.
In the automotive sector, do you have in mind the bet for the electric engine and the hydrogen economy, where do you think the use of silicone pipes will evolve?
For the intra-urban mobility, we believe that the last mile will be by electric power and a model based on the time sharing of the vehicle; while for the inter-urban mobility, characterized by displacements of more kilometers, the paper will be on the hydrogen vehicle. Although the use of silicone could become obsolete with the introduction of the electric vehicle on a large scale, there is still room for improvement and exploration in vehicles that will use fuel cell technology to run on hydrogen.
This is why we are currently trying to migrate the business from traditional mobility to new trends. In this sense, we are working in more than two projects for the development of hydrogen-based vehicles and, I would dare to say that as manufacturers, we are the most advanced in this technology. I would like to highlight, especially, two projects in progress: the first one with a hydrogen van manufacturer, and the second one, the collaboration of Venair with a Scandinavian company specialized in vehicles. Both of them have an exhaustive involvement of the different teams of the company for an optimal fish design.
For its properties, in which sectors do you think silicone will have more growth?
Silicone is not a new material and has been on the market for many years. Unlike its beginnings, however, today's silicone is much purer and its price has dropped, making it a commodity.
It stands out for its high degree of flexibility and easy handling, it is inert to most chemical products and very stable at high temperatures. These owners believe that silicone is a perfect material for multiple applications and sectors that require high performance and certifications, especially single-use systems for the health industry.
Do you have a R&D department, in which projects are they working?
We mainly work in the development of products that can give specific answers to the problems of our customers. For example, solutions that allow to increase the useful life of products and that complete a determined owners, as could be those that allow to avoid condensation problems, that complete our certificates, that facilitate the need of the product, etc. When we detect a need and we see that there is no solution to the market, we develop it. In this sense, we are one of the few manufacturers who continue to innovate with silicone to improve the owners and give them the value they have.
From silicone variants or bars with other materials, we have developed products with Telcra®, an insulating and anti-condensation material for silicone bars that avoids the listing or condensation drops when there is a difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the tube. Another material that should be highlighted, developed by the innovation department, is Abrasil, which is an innovative material with great resistance to abrasion.
We are also developing an elastomeric based material for the fuel cell sector, a sector that the company considers strategic. Check more information here.
Moreover, in parallel, we are working on robotization projects to increase the productive competitiveness and to be able to enter our sectors.
And in the world of plastics, have you explored the ability of silicone to act as a flexible substrate?
The use of silicone for electronic applications is still in its infancy. In this sense, we have in the company an industrial doctorate that investigates the field of silicone dielectrics that can be used for the manufacture of sensors or electronic circuits.
In the field of innovation, have I collaborated with any other member of the AVM Cluster?
Yes, we have recently finished a project with ONYRIQ for the development of a urinary antimicrobial catheter. With the Leitat technology center, we also collaborate regularly and we have done several innovation projects, one of them about silicone recycling.
What are the main benefits of being part of the Cluster?
The MAV Cluster allows us to find synergies with other companies, to collaborate with our projects, and to have a wider vision of the materials sector. Thanks to the Cluster, we can meet very powerful companies that we have and that can help us, without the need to look outside.