Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Franz Durst
About: Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Franz Durst - Shareholder

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Franz Durst (FMP TECHNOLOGY GMBH) studied Aeronautical Engineering at the Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany, and Process Engineering at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, England. He graduated from Imperial College at London University and received his doctor’s degree in 1972 (Ph.D.). In 1972, he returned to Germany and worked as subproject leader of various research projects at the Collaborative Research Center 80 at the University of Karlsruhe for ten years. Prof. Durst was offered a C3 professorship for Fluid Mechanics at the University of Karlsruhe in 1978 and was appointed chair of the Institute of Fluid Mechanics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in 1982. He developed this institute into one of the most important institutes for fluid mechanics on a national and international level. During his active time at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg he worked at several universities abroad. He has been awarded many prizes for his research work and, at present, is member of four academies, among them the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2006, Prof. Durst retired from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and founded the company FMP TECHNOLOGY GMBH, whose CEO and shareholder he had been. This company is involved in coating and drying technologies.

1. FMP Technology commenced its journey almost a decade back; it has branched into diverse sectors of application. How was this expansion materialized?

FMP Technology is a start-up with its origin in the Institute of Fluid Mechanics of the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg in Germany. FMP took up its activities in 2006. The company works in the fields of coating and drying of thin liquid films on substrates of different materials. Roll-to-roll equipment is sold, but also sheet-to-sheet coating and drying facilities are within the product range of the company.

The business of the company has been based on extensive research and development work in the fields of coating and diffusion optimized convection drying, hence the work of FMP has a sound theoretical basis.

2. How did it feel to be awarded the “Bavarian Founder Award” for being the outstanding entrepreneur in Bavaria? Does this set the bar at a prominent standard for your future plans?

The continuing development of diverse products by FMP attracted considerable attention in the coating and drying community. Franconian, Bavarian and German company start-up awards were received by FMP Technology in the years 2010 and 2011. Additional awards were also received and this made clear that the developed company products were considered to be not only innovative, but also of commercial interest.

3. What are FMP Technology’s contributions to the pulp and paper industry?

The slot dies of FMP Technology have been designed and built to work in various fields where coating and drying of thin liquid films are of interest, among them the paper industry. FMP slot dies have a special feature, namely that the coating of thin films is independent of viscosity and mass flow, i.e. the gross web thickness distribution of the film is not dependent on the fluid viscosity and the fluid mass flow. Hence, the slot die can be used in different fields of coating. The company has focused on the coating of paper, foils, textiles, lithium ion batteries, etc. Its entry to a greater extent into the paper industry is limited owing to the investment required to set up demonstration coating facilities, but such demonstrations in the paper industry are currently being developed.

The energy consumption of the paper industry is very high and, although it has been reduced tremendously over the last few decades. Further, reductions will be possible only if new paper drying techniques are introduced. Such technology has been developed by FMP and reported in recent publications. The drying technique is referred to as “diffusion-optimized convection drying”, yielding reductions of the thermal energy of about 50% and more. This has been proven in the meantime.