German start-up takes the prize in Rice University’s competition

Aluminum-coated basalt fiber, aluminum sheath, conductive fibers, electromagnetic shielding
Credit: fibrecoat.de

FibreCoat has taken the 3rd place and investment prizes for a technology for the production of basalt fibers with an aluminium sheath and glass fibers with a polymer sheath.

The Rice Business Plan Competition that is the largest in the world for student start-ups, was once again held at Rice University in the United States (Houston, Texas). Like last year, the event was held online allowing more foreign participants to take part since they didn’t have to travel to Houston.

The applicants included 440 teams from all over the world, 54 startups were allowed to participate. The prize fund in cash and prizes was $ 1.4 million. After elevator pitches, semi-final rounds, wildcard round and live final pitches, just 7 teams made it to the finals. The FibreCoat from the RWTH Textile Institute turned out to be the only team from European universities.

The team were awarded the 3rd prize for a patented spinning technology for the production of composite fibers based on basalt fiber and glass fiber. A jury comprising venture capitalists and investors appreciated the business model for the production of low-cost, high-performance composite fibers. The team were awarded a $ 50,000 investment prize, as well as $ 100,000 from the TiE Houston Angels and $ 500 for the Best Hard Tech Elevator Pitch from the Mercury Fund.

Aluminum-coated fibers from FibreCoat GmbH are produced from a basalt multifilament core (100 monofilaments) with aluminum sheath. The technology developed at the Rhine-Westphalian University of Technology Aachen (RWTH) is capable of coating the individual filaments directly in the manufacturing process. It achieves a production speed of over 1,500 meters per minute as well as a completely homogeneous sheath.

The resulting composite yarns are highly stiff and strong and have metal properties. Moreover, basalt fiber with aluminum sheath are ten times cheaper than comparable conductive fibers and the production and processing processes are less energy intensive. Renewable and recycled materials are good for this technology.

The FibreCoat team talks about their products:

Founded in February 2020, the start-up released the first AluCoat product a year later. At the present time, besides composite basalt fibers, the company offers chopped fibers, nonwoven and woven fabrics. They can be applied whereas electromagnetic shielding is needed: electric vehicles, electronics, aerospace, and specialized devices.

The AluCoat announced parameters: shielding capacity at high and low frequencies with an effectiveness of 80 to 120 dB. Furthermore, an electrical conductivity of 100 Ωm and a working temperature of at least 400 °C.
Housed by the Institute of Textiles, RWTH is closely involved in developing basalt fiber-based products in different fields – from the automotive to extraterrestrial missions.

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