STFC CERN BIC celebrates first graduate company
15 Apr 2016



We take a look at our first graduate Oxford nanoSystems year in the business incubation centre and their plans for the future




​The first graduate of the UK CERN BIC Programme, Oxford nanoSystems(OnS), was formed in 2012 and began development on a heat transfer coating, showing technological progress in March 2014 with a successful instrumented heattransfer test being performed at Brunel University. The company joined the CERN BIC programme based at Harwell in January 2015 and in September 2015 Dr Alexander Reip, anexperienced nano-technologist was made CEO, having joined the company at its inception in 2012 as CSO to develop the heat transfer technology, resulting in increasingly improved results. These results have led to interest from companies in a number of different markets.

OnS’s mission is to be a leading provider of heat-transfer coating solutions into large-scale transportation, HVAC/refrigeration, energy & industrial andelectronics businesses.To this end they have developed coatings which improve the physical effect of boiling heat transfer. Surface modification by physical means is known to improve heat transfer and in 2012 the company came up with a nanostructured coating which could give superior results and be formed in confined spaces. The coating improves heat-transfer rates by more than 4 times and reduces the energy needed to initiate boiling from 15 to 2°C, which allows a greater proportion of the energy to be utilised. This 3-4 times increase in heat transfer coefficient could allow a customer to use a Heat Exchangerhalf the usual size at approximately half the cost.

The company is planning to use a model of outsourced manufacture which reflect a percentage of the savings made by the customer which will demonstrate the savings made and keep capital equipment costs and risks low.

The future for the company is bright; they will continue to occupy their laboratory on the Harwell campus and are seeking further investment so that they can roll out their technology in more applicationssuch as automotive, cooling for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, nicheapplications in boiling heat exchangers, electric car direct drive and high performance chip cooling. Sectors such as waste-heat recovery and renewable (geothermal) energy can also benefit from savings in heat-exchanger costs.

Dr. Alexander Reip, CEO of Oxford nanoSystems said “Having access to CERN staff and facilities through the CERN BIC grant allowed us to increase our ability to examine how our coatings work in a system. These kinds of measurements are hard for a small company to get hold of easily so having this access was a great help. The 40 hours of STFC time meant we could use a world class thermodynamicist to advise us in interpreting the data we got back to make quick modifications to our technology. We also couldn’t have done any of this without the facilities and equipment of STFC at Harwell. The state-of-the-art labs and microscopy equipment lets us very quickly create and analyse different structures at low cost which a company of our size could never do on a small budget. We are now working on our next funding round and looking into development of a large scale production plant for our coating process.”   

Find out more about Oxford nanoSystems on their website (link opens in a new window)