They’ve built INERATEC’s first Power-to-Liquid plants and painted the walls of the first office. Today we are pleased to introduce you to Benjamin, head of manufacturing, followed by Cornelia, senior expert in engineering in our next IC-Insight. Both of them know INERATEC from the small office at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Today, they sit on different floors of the INERATEC building on the premises of the Karlspark. As the first permanent employees they have experienced and shaped the entire development of INERATEC. They can report first-hand what has happened over the last four years, how their tasks have changed and what makes working at INERATEC so diverse.
How did you come across INERATEC back then?
In 2013 during my bachelor thesis at the Institute of Micro Process Engineering I met two of the founders, Tim and Paolo, and heared about their founding plans. I then wrote my master thesis at INERATEC in 2016 – and stayed as the first permanent employee.
You are the employee who has accompanied IC for the longest time, what has inspired you in recent years, what makes your work special?
I always say that for me there are three main aspects.
Firstly, to experience how a company is created and grows. The founding phase at the very beginning was incredibly exciting – but the rapid growth from the founding team in 2016 to over 50 employees* in 2020 and the establishment of our own production for the reactors and plants is something unique. The team has grown with every new challenge.
Secondly, the future-oriented topic area: the conversion of renewable energies into CO2-neutral fuels and valuable chemical products. We all want to have a positive influence on the future. At INERATEC I can help shape the energy turnaround, what more could you want?
Thirdly, the INERATEC team. A lot of open-minded, motivated people with whom you enjoy working and can also do something outside of work. That’s probably also what everyone here likes so much: the “INERATEC spirit” so to speak – the good feeling of being a team and being able to do everything together.
The first plant was built in 2016, even before INERATEC had its own production hall – what was it like to witness the development from the first office to small series production?
Our first hall was a rented property just outside of Karlsruhe and not connected to the offices. With borrowed tools we built our first two plants there. In addition to the engineering and project work, I really enjoyed building plants myself.
Since 2018, office space and production have been combined. At the location in the Karlspark, we then built our own demonstrator as well as the production facilities. We mill the individual parts of the reactors and manufacture them in a small series. We are very flexible in the construction phase of the plants. Here, too, teamwork is very important: through close cooperation with the engineering department, we can directly implement new findings and developments – and thus further optimize and standardize our plants.