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Silesian Innovators
June 17, 2010   
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Biodegradable packaging, an energy-efficient house and a synchronized magnetic engine used to power an electrical car—these innovations won the highest praise from the judges of an innovation contest in the southern city of Katowice, Silesia province.

The contest is known as the Silesian Innovator and the judges also singled out a new ecological copper alloy, a computer forensics program, and a body sculpting machine.

The Silesian Innovator contest is open to companies and research institutions who want to showcase their achievements in the development and implementation of innovative production and service technologies.

The contest is held by the Regional Center of Innovation and Technology Transfer, which operates out of the Upper Silesian Agency for Enterprise Restructuring. The chairman of Silesia province and the rector of the Silesian University of Technology have both lent their names to the event.

This year’s contest, which was held for the second time, attracted research institutions and companies from sectors such as construction, information and communication technology, packaging, mining and geo-engineering, non-ferrous metallurgy, environmental engineering, occupational safety, and education.

From construction to investigative computing
The breadth of industry sectors represented by the participants illustrates the abilities and potential of Silesian companies and research institutions, the contest organizers say.

The contest consisted of two stages. During the first stage, officials performed an initial assessment of the entries. The second stage was a visit to the companies to perform a technological audit, with the aim of verifying the submitted information and better judging the degree of innovation.

The audits were performed by outside experts from the given sector and on this basis, the 12 best projects were selected. Finally, the judges chose a winner from each category and handed out honorable mentions.

Three categories
The judges named Silesian Innovators in three categories:

- microenterprise: Bioerg SA from D±browa Górnicza for its Biofolia biodegradable packaging

- small business: Euro-Centrum from Katowice, for its innovative energy-saving building

- research institution: Komel Research and Development Center of Electrical Machines from Katowice, for its SmwsPA 132S4 synchronous permanent magnet motor, designed to power the Re-Volt electric car.

Honorable mentions:
- microenterprise: Vacu Fit Sp. z o.o. from Zabrze, for its Vacu Fit Thermal Elegance Pro, a body sculpting machine.

- small enterprise: Mediarecovery from Katowice for its “computer forensics service”

- research institution: Non-Ferrous Metals Institute from Gliwice, for its new ecological copper alloy.

The biodegradable packaging foil, or biofoil, looks similar to more classical packaging, even though it is made from renewable plant products. It retains its main properties during use and later, like all plant materials, decomposes into carbon dioxide, water and environmentally friendly biomass, which can further be composted or used for bio-gas production.

The Bioerg company, which makes the foil, is a pioneer in the production of plant-based polymers and compostable packaging in Poland. The company offers a range of foils, shopping bags, bakery packaging and garbage bags. Last year, the company launched Psiworek, a range of biodegradable bags for dog excrement.

Bioerg takes part in various ecological and educational campaigns, in addition to offering a range of biofoil products.

Energy-efficient office building
Euro-centrum’s innovative energy-saving office building uses two-thirds less energy than a conventional building of the same size. The modern technologies it employs make it possible to reduce energy consumption for both heating and cooling. Renewable energy sources, in the form of geothermal wells, are used for the heating, part of which is also served by a ventilation system with heat recuperation. The building features thermal shields, “passive” windows with triple glazing, and a system of external blinds. The automated solar panel system, on the other hand, rolls down the blinds and sets them at an optimal angle after detecting a sufficient amount of sunshine. The building was specifically oriented in relation to wind flows to obtain the highest energy savings possible. The compact design makes for an advantageous ratio of wall to room surfaces. Offices have been located all around the building, to maximize access to natural light. The building functions normally during the workweek but goes into an energy-efficient standby mode during weekends. The building has been designed to house innovative companies with high technological requirements, but it will also be used by laboratories and research centers.

Euro-Centrum is also constructing one of Poland’s first passive buildings. The building will use 10 times less energy than a standard design, and its 6,320 square meter surface will integrate a host of energy-efficient technologies and renewable sources such as heat pumps and solar cells and collectors. The building will be used both for training and as a test bed for low-energy technology.

Magnet motor
The SmwsPA 132S4 synchronous permanent magnet motor built by the Komel Research and Development Center of Electrical Machines for the Re-Volt electrical car, is a modern and highly (over 93 percent) efficient electrical engine. Its technical parameters include a rotational speed of 0-6000 rpm, a continuous power output of 11.6 kW, or around 16 hp, a maximal power output of 20 kW, and a maximum torque of 55 Nm. The engine runs on 64V, weighs 43 kg, and is liquid-cooled.

Initially, the engine will be fitted in the Re-Volt three-wheeled electrical car. Other potential applications include powering small cars such as the Smart, Fiat Panda or Fiat 500, quad bikes or replacing any engines that require adjustment of rotational speed (such as pumps and ventilators).

Founded in 1948, the Komel Research and Development Center of Electrical Machines in Katowice deals with the research, development and design of rotating electrical machines. The center has developed more than 20 innovative designs with a wide range of applications.

Body sculpting machine
The Vacu Fit Elegance Pro made by the Vacu Fit company is a body sculpting machine that features a sealed, waist-high cabin with a treadmill or stepper, as well as a touchscreen LCD panel that makes it possible to control the exercise rate. The machine monitors blood and lymph flow in those parts of the body where fat tends to accumulate, namely the waist, thighs and buttocks. The cabin is hermetically sealed during the exercise phase and the internal airflow is computer-controlled. The LCD screen shows the speed, distance, burned calories and pulse rate of the person using it, but can also play music and films.

Computer forensics
Computer forensics is based on searching for and analyzing data stored on various types of digital media. Engineers collate strands of information found among the binary data stored on computer disks, with the aim of creating an “electronic fingerprint” as well as securing it in such a way that it can be used in court proceedings or internal audits.

The Mediarecovery company offers computer forensics services and builds systems for Computer Emergency Response (CERT) and Computer Security Incident Response (CSIRT) teams within companies and institutions.

The company runs what it says is the largest computer forensics laboratory in this part of Europe, enabling it to effectively analyze electronic data. Mediarecovery has an Industrial Security Certificate that allows it to handle secret and confidential data. The company is also an authorized partner of leading companies involved in computer forensics and security such as Guidance Software, NetWitness Corporation, AccessData, McAfee, SpectorSoft, Tableau, and Microsystemation.

Computer forensics is especially useful in cases requiring an analysis of digital data. Since 2005, Mediarecovery has performed more than 3,000 expert audits. The spectrum of cases handled by the company’s computer forensics experts ranges from typical computer crime such as network break-ins, destruction or unauthorized copying of data to white-collar crime like confidential information leaks and fraud.

Ecological alloys
The new ecological copper alloys developed by the Non-Ferrous Metals Institute in Gliwice have extremely low lead content, according to the makers. They have been designed to replace traditional brass alloys which contain more harmful lead. In the copper alloys, lead has been mainly replaced by bismuth, but they also contain other additives such as aluminum, tin, nickel, iron and silicon.

Within the context of the planned reduction of lead-based products in the European Union, the new copper alloys are a good replacement for classical lead-based brass alloys used in bathroom fittings and can compete with those products on both domestic and foreign markets, according to the institute. The chemical composition of these new alloys is protected by patents.
Ewa Dereń
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