Evidence of Microplastics, Quick Test for Pipeline Gas, and Digital Test Results

WESSLING Innovation Award 2016: Ideas Enthuse Customers and Employees Alike

Three teams, from Hungary, France and Germany, are this year’s winners of the WESSLING Innovation Award, which was initiated by the company’s founder, Dr Erwin Weßling. Jimmy Sapede, Robin T’Jampens and Stéphane Fievet, Jens Reiber, Christian Winter and András Szabó received an award for their ideas, during the annual company meeting, in Munich. For a consecutive ninth year the international jury rewarded the employees’ best ideas with 10,000 Euro prize money. The award-winning innovations reflect the expertise wide of engineers and scientists employed at the service provider for analyses and consultancy.

WESSLING Innovation Award 2016
WESSLING Innovation Award: Dr. Erwin Weßling, Christian Winter, Jimmy Sapede, Robin T’Jampens, Stéphane Fievet, László Zanathy, András Szabó, Florian Weßling

The expert for nano-materials, Dr Jens Reiber together with sampler Christian Winter, developed a new method to analyse microplastics. For years, we have been aware of the contamination posed to our oceans by plastic waste. Annually, in Europe, ten million tons of uncontrolled plastic waste enters the eco system. Plastic particles and fibres smaller than five millimetres are so-called microplastics. They enter the environment via plastic waste or wastewater. Many organisms absorb these tiny particles and thus, enter the food chain this way. This is why it is the more important to identify and quantify microplastics, for instance in wastewater, surface water, sludge, sediments, drinking water, or food. The team from WESSLING further developed sampling and sample preparation. They also implemented a new method that helps to properly identify plastics in the FTIR microscope. Jens Reiber and Christian Winter developed a new method to properly identify plastics in the FTIR microscope. Taking watery environmental samples, like from wastewaters in sewage treatment plants is carried out on site with cartridge filters (width of mesh: 15µm) by means of concentration of up to 1 cubic metre m3. The samples are prepared, in the lab, in a way that the plastic particles can be separated from other contaminants like sediments and organic substances (like plant residues).

The method has already been applied successfully and, depending on customers’ requirements, can be developed further. In France, for example, wastewater samples and sea salt used as food was tested for microplastics

At the WESSLING Lyon branch Jimmy Sapede, Robin T’Jampens and Stéphane Fievet developed a quick testing procedure for industrial gas and biogas, and pipeline gas. The test requires only a third of the time in contrast to the conventional procedure. Precise results are available to the customer within a few hours, and costs are reduced. The sampling case is designed in a way that the test kit can be taken on board of an airplane as part of the hand luggage. The case contains measuring instruments, and vessels or materials for sampling, such as silica gel or quartz filters. Each instrument and bottle have their own foam compartment. Samples can be taken right at the pipeline, and thanks to the battery-driven measuring control, up to three samples can be taken at the same time, at a different flow velocity and up to 80 bars.

An overall biogas analysis now only takes six hours instead of the previous 18 hours. Precise and quick results are important for our customers. Before being fed into the mains, the producers must proof the quality of the gas. Here, time is money.

The jury, consisting of Dr Erwin Weßling, Dr László Zanathy, and a temporary member, Jannis Drakidis, had the hard task to select the best ideas from numerous innovative ones. More than 1,200 employees are working at eight European locations and in China to sustainably improve quality, safety, environmental and health protection. Florian Weßling, who is a member of the jury and shareholder of the family-owned company, said, “We are glad that these innovative ideas enthuse customers and employees alike.”

Another winner is the Hungarian IT specialist András Szabó, who developed further a method for the digital transfer of test results. By means of a QR code customers are able to call up test reports in a secure and flexible manner. The interplay of the QR code and reporting system enables the customer to have access to the current status of a laboratory report, which can then be printed after completion. The QR code is to be further developed to provide customer-relevant solutions.

Innovative ideas are a company-wide, motivating force and appreciated by our customers and employees alike. Moreover, as the jury has highlighted, innovative ideas contributed to the company’s success. This year’s annual award ceremony took place in Bavaria, i.e. in Munich’s oldest beer cellar. “With every award ceremony, we try to have something characteristic of the branch where it takes place, and what could be more typical of Munich than a brewery cellar?” said the shareholders.

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