If you are new to the Solid Edge startup program, you should definitely get to know it and recommend it to potential candidates. Since 2017, we have been helping companies in their early phase by providing them with a free Solid Edge annual subscription license of our current full version, one license per designer or engineer. We understand that getting a business up and running is a challenge, and the earliest phase is often one of the hardest. That’s why we provide this service—to ensure newcomers to the industry can fully concentrate on success without worrying about expenses for development software. Kraftblock (in English “Power Block”), formerly Nebuma GmbH, is one of many startups worldwide taking advantage of this opportunity.
Innovation powered by Kraftblock
There are certainly many startups with innovative solutions. Kraftblock is one example. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the founder, Dr. Martin Schichtel, to learn more about how the company uses Solid Edge to build a green business from a scientific research project.
Founded four years ago in the starter center of the University of Saarbrücken, Kraftblock stands primarily for sustainability, energy recovery and a future-oriented concept. This concept has recently convinced investor Frank Thelen, whom some will surely know as a juror of the program “The Cave of the Lions”, who invested in the startup right away: “After Lilium and Neufund, I joined Kraftblock because I find the technology very exciting. Saving energy today is still a big challenge, as real sustainability is measured not only in terms of efficiency and breadth of use, but also in the materials used and the manufacturing process. All of this I can affirm with Kraftblock – that’s why I invested in the company. “
But what exactly is Kraftblock about? Which product or service does the company offer to the market?
Highly efficient storage, filled with a secret mixture
The team led by chemist Martin Schichtel and economist Susanne König has developed a thermal energy storage, the innovation of which consists in its excellent thermal conductivity and high heat capacity. Power-block storage stores energy that is generated as waste heat in the context of industrial manufacturing processes or from excess wind or solar energy in an economically viable, environmentally friendly and secure manner and release it when needed. Heat is produced as a “waste product” in a number of processes, such as in glass, ceramic and steel production, but also in drying plants or in power generation by fossil fuels. Considering that a total of 280 terawatt-hours of thermal energy are spent unused through factory chimneys in Germany every year, the scale of the problem quickly becomes apparent. If you were to use this energy, you could take five nuclear power plants off the grid at the same time.
The true innovation of the store is the granules in its interior. For many years, Schichtel and his team have been researching the exact material composition—testing alone took two years to complete. The granules have the advantage that they can store even extremely high temperatures of up to 1300°C. In contrast, conventional storage can only absorb heat between 500 to 600°C. In addition, the construction principle of the storage is on the one hand very simple, but on the other hand also very modular in its usage. Between 30 and 60 megawatt hours of energy can be stored per unit, enough to heat two single-family homes for one year. “We have recycled material, e.g. blast furnace slag, packed together with our technology in a shipping container. In addition, our storage tanks can be easily and cost-effectively transported to almost any location, even by train,” says Schichtel.
A powerful CAD program and a strong partner as a basis
Since 2018, the company has been using the free Solid Edge startup license and is thrilled with the functionality of the CAD and development software from Siemens. Since there was no design engineer at the beginning, CEO Schichtel himself fumbled into the program. The difference compared to the previously used freeware was enormous. “Especially at the assembly level, I was able to easily import and process existing data, which meant a huge progress and time saving for us,” says Schichtel. “And although I’m not a trained CAD engineer, I got along just fine with the tool and its user interface. Also, the functionalities in the field of simulation are very useful for us, as we can validate our concepts at an early stage. “
Right from the beginning, Kraftblock was supported by the Siemens solution partner PBU CAD-Systeme GmbH. After a comprehensive consultation on the functions and capabilities of the software, Schichtel and his team were quickly able to use the right features. The Saarlanders are currently thinking about extending the Solid Edge landscape, so soon modules for P & ID and pipeline planning should be following. “It is already clear that we will continue to work with Kraftblock even after the free startup phase, which we are very pleased about,” says PBU project manager Eva Augustin.
As of a few years ago, Kraftblock no longer supplies only the hardware, but also the associated know-how to steer the process heat on the right tracks. For its idea, the company has already received several awards, including inclusion into the 2018 Climate-KIC program and the title “Innovator of the Year” in the innovation competition Top 100.
We wish Kraftblock continued success and hope to see many companies interested in leveraging their innovative energy storage.
Learn more about Solid Edge for startups and apply to the program here.