Picture by Michael Cooper
Pictured (L – R) are Andrew Woods, Catagen, and Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI.
Belfast based Catagen Ltd has secured a deal with US firm MAHLE worth $1million for its revolutionary large-scale testing equipment for catalytic converters called Maxcat.
Catagen built this potentially transformational piece of equipment following research and development support from Invest Northern Ireland. This deal is the latest in a series of sales secured by Catagen from major automotive companies.
A spin-out from Queen’s University, the company used its patented technology, developed over several years, to produce two smaller products for the automotive industry – Labcat and Testcat. The Maxcat is capable of testing four catalyst assemblies at once. It recreates engine exhaust gas composition, flow rates and temperatures to provide safe and clean testing that replicates traditional engine dynamometer-based testing at significantly lower cost.
Invest NI has offered over £374,000 to support the development of the Maxcat, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Catagen co-founder and Chief Executive, Dr Andrew Woods said: "Automotive companies need to conduct extensive testing and verification on new and aged catalysts to verify that emission regulations will be met throughout the typical life of a vehicle.
“The development of Maxcat is a really significant moment for Catagen and the future of catalyst testing. The industry now has a viable, full size, much more environmentally friendly alternative method to age and test catalysts."
The first Maxcat machine has been completed and will soon be installed in the USA at the Michigan facility of MAHLE Powertrain.
Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI’s Executive Director of Business Solutions, said: “This unique product, which uses cutting-edge technology developed locally, could allow Catagen to capture a significant portion of the catalyst testing and ageing marketplace globally. It is very encouraging to see a product that was developed with our R&D support deliver such a significant export deal for the company. It is an excellent example of how investing in R&D can lead to real rewards.
“The new technology has the potential to outperform all current testing methods, reducing costs by up to 85 per cent, and providing major environmental impacts through delivering a 98 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions at the testing source.”
Rose Mary Stalker, Chairman of Catagen commented: “This contract with MAHLE Powertrain will help to accelerate the development, prove-out and acceptance of the unique Maxcat capabilities in the North American marketplace.”
“We are very pleased to be able to work with Catagen to bring this unique catalyst aging solution to the industry.” said Hugh Blaxill, General Manager, MAHLE Powertrain, LLC. “The Maxcat’s testing and aging solutions deliver significant reductions in operating costs with an increase in testing flexibility and agility.”
Since the company was spun out of Queen’s in 2010 it has received a range of support from Invest NI to help it develop and commercialise its testing technology and structure the company for further growth.