The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - November 3, 2015
The Polish Science Voice
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Catalysts of change
Innovation is not necessarily about developing something completely new. It is often about improving something that already exists—to make it more efficient, less expensive or more user-friendly on the basis of someone’s talent, hard work and funds. This is the essence of many Polish inventions and innovative ideas in science and technology—in part because upgrading things that already exist is often less capital-intensive and takes less time to produce results than inventing something from scratch.

One case in point is Apeiron Synthesis, a Polish company from the southwestern city of Wrocław, which is finishing work on a project that seeks to develop a range of more efficient chemical catalysts—the substances that speed up chemical reactions. The company’s catalysts are designed to make it easier to produce various new-generation drugs as well as fragrances, resin and rubber additives and polymers at a lower cost.

Apeiron Synthesis offers its catalysts to customers worldwide in powder form. It started developing them several years ago. Now it is working to upgrade them as part of a project formally entitled “Efficient Heterogeneous Catalysts for Olefin Metathesis.” Michał Bieniek, the company’s CEO who has a Ph.D. in chemical sciences, says Apeiron Synthesis has increased the efficiency of catalysts “dozens of times over” as a result of the project.

Another innovative project we report on in this issue of The Polish Science Voice is about improving something that people have done for a long time—but employing a completely new idea in the process. In simple terms, the project seeks to make life easier for drivers by sparing them problems—such as detours and traffic jams—created by workers repairing and renovating bridges. In this project, a Warsaw-based company called Centrum Badawcze Powłok Ochronnych (CEBAPO) has undertaken to upgrade the way in which workers repair, clean and rustproof bridges. The aim is to avoid the usual situation in which bridges are closed to traffic for as long as it takes to repair them. CEBAPO has built a special water-borne renovation platform to enable renovation crews to access a bridge from the water below.

Most traditional methods of renovating and maintaining bridges require them to be either completely or partially closed to traffic. This is necessary because renovation crews use heavy-duty machinery and equipment and also need workshop and storage space. An additional problem is that many bridges do not have a separate lane for pedestrian traffic and closing them to traffic often causes problems for local residents.

“We have demonstrated that corrosion protection work can be done from the water level and that this is safe for workers,” says Malwina Wodzyńska, the project manager.

The platform designed by CEBAPO consists of six segments and can be easily transported by road. It is self-sufficient in terms of power supply because it is equipped with a power generator.

CEBAPO plans to sell its platform together with a “comprehensive corrosion protection service” and expects the demand to run high.