Tapping new markets with RHI Magnesita’s innovation in nanomaterials
Sommersemester 2021 / RHI Magnesita
RHI Magnesita, a global leader in refractory products, has managed to synthesize high-grade nano silicon carbide at a large scale in its R&D facilities in Brazil – an innovation that could have a high impact in the silicon carbide industry. To identify fields of application outside of their core segment, the refractory industry, RHI Magnesita turned to the E&I institute.
The goal of this project was to identify and evaluate 2-3 high-potential non-refractory areas of application in which RHI Magnesita’s nano silicon carbide can bring substantial use benefits. In this project RHI Magnesita positioned itself as a materials supplier that looks for buyers of its material in these new segments. The focus was mainly on practical applicability, possibility for early market entry and large volumes. The ideal outcome also encompasses 3 evaluations of distinct use cases and first leads to potential buyers of nano silicon carbide.
To identify new fields of application, the “technological competency leveraging” (in short TCL) method was used. This method of finding new application fields for already existing technologies consists of identifying key use benefits, developing application fields, analyzing these application fields and conducting market evaluations of distinct use cases. To gather information, expert interviews and a systematic literature review were primarily used. Online communities and personal networks were also utilized to achieve a broader understanding of the material and its application. After reaching out to over 250 experts and industry practitioners, 13 interviews with experts from a wide variety of fields were conducted. In addition, more than 40 scientific papers about nanomaterials, silicon carbide and materials very closely related to it were analyzed. After creating a pool of around 40 application fields and drawing up a long list of 12 promising application fields, 3 fields were selected together with the project partner for closer examination.
Results & evaluated application fields
It was found that the use cases of power semiconductor substrate material, drilling bit coating or alloy and ceramic brake matrix material all offer substantial market potential for RHI Magnesita’s new material. Further findings include the insights that only a few companies already work successfully with nanomaterials, usage in medically related fields needs more research and that some companies and potential clients might hesitate to work with nano silicon carbide due to its novelty. The key use benefits of resistance to extreme conditions, geometric flexibility as well as the customization of delivery and economies of scale offered through RHI Magnesita’s new process are all important in each of the three fields selected. Power semiconductors, industrial drilling bits and ceramic brakes all offer healthy market sizes that are forecast to grow considerably in the next five to ten years. Even though the industry structure and competitive landscapes are rather different in these three fields, it was found that one approach promises to break into all three of them: finding a committed partner in each field to embark on a R&D and production partnership.
RHI Magnesita GmbH
Tuong-Vi Sophie Quach