First use of energy-saving procedure: Heating metals with superconductors

The world’s first industrial use of an HTS induction heater - Development sponsored by the DBU

Minden. To bend copper heating pipes or aluminium window frames into shape, the metal has to be softened at temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees. “This step in metal processing uses an enormous amount of energy,” says Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde, Secretary General of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU). But Dr. Brickwedde says that, now, an induction heater using high-temperature superconductors (HTS) has shown that more than half of this energy can be saved in future. The device was developed by the companies Zenergy (Rheinbach) and Bültmann (Neuenrade) over the past few years – supported by the DBU with around 600,000 euros. At the Hanover Expo in April, the two companies received the Hermes Award, the biggest technology prize in the world (100,000 euros), for their achievement. Since July, the HTS induction heater has been used by the company Weseralu (Minden), a profile pressing plant for metals, where it “exceeds all expectations,” says Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde, who visited the plant today.

Worldwide first commercially using in industry

“For the very first time, high-temperature superconductors are being used commercially in industry: by Weseralu and our project partners who sold the equipment to the pressing plant in autumn 2007,” Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde explained enthusiastically. In the past, he said, the ceramic materials from which the HTS conductors are made could be rendered usable only at great expense. “This is a globally unique, outstanding, innovative achievement by German companies!”

Heating process faster - carbon dioxide emission prevented

Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde pointed out that a block of aluminium could be heated in just 75 seconds using the new technology. “That used to take two-and-a-half minutes,” said Heinz Hagemann, the managing partner of Weseralu. “The shortened heating process allows the metals to be processed twice as quickly, and we have improved our productivity by 25 percent.” He said the new system also used only half as much electricity as a conventional one, saving Weseralu 50,000 euros a year in energy costs and preventing the emission of 380 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Radical transformation in the metal-processing industry

“This procedure promises a radical transformation in the metal-processing industry: after all, in some industrial countries, the use of conventional induction furnaces accounts for up to five percent of the entire electricity consumption,” said Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz Brickwedde. “The DBU is proud to have helped this environmentally-friendly and pioneering innovation on its way with a cash injection!”

Conference on the topic High-Temperature Superconductor in 2009

A conference on the topic “High-Temperature Superconductors in Supply Systems in 2010+ - Contributions to Grid Robustness and Efficiency” is planned to take place in the DBU’s Centre for Environmental Communication in March 2009.


Contact for questions to the project (AZ 22577):

Heinz Hagemann, weseralu GmbH & Co.KG, Am Osthafen 5, 32423 Minden, fon: 0571/38705-0, fax: 0571/38705-55

Ursula Kollenbach, Zenergy Power GmbH, Heisenbergstr. 16, 53359 Rheinbach, fon: 02226/9060607, fax: 02226/9060900

Werner Witte, Bültmann GmbH, Hönnestr. 31, 58809 Neuenrade, fon: 02394/18250, fax: 02394/18171


The High-Temperature Superconductor, sponsored by the DBU, is used by Weseralu, a pressing plant for metals.

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