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Q.ANT and Festo agree strategic partnership

Automation technology facilitates large-scale biomass cultivation using artificial photosynthesis // Quantum sensor provides information on algae growth // Prototype with quantum technology to be presented at Hannover Messe 2022

Esslingen/Stuttgart/Ditzingen, May 22, 2022 – Festo and Q.ANT, a wholly owned subsidiary of TRUMPF, are entering into a strategic partnership to cultivate biomass on an industrial scale. The two companies aim to achieve this using a combination of automation technology from Festo and quantum technology from Q.ANT. Algae offers significant potential in this context.

Algae are tiny climate-change fighters

Algae have an extremely high photosynthetic efficiency in their natural environment, binding ten times more carbon dioxide (CO2) than land plants. When algae are grown in bioreactors equipped with appropriate sensors, control technology and automation, this efficiency can be increased even further, reaching a hundredfold that of land plants. The substances created in this process can be used as raw materials for pharmaceuticals, packaging and cosmetics and, ultimately, recycled in ways that create a climate-neutral system. This gives algae considerable potential to drive the circular economy.

“We aim to make a decisive contribution toward improving quality of life for both current and future generations. Our automation technology and expertise in control engineering make us the perfect partner for large-scale biomass cultivation,” says Prof. Volker Nestle, Head of LifeTech Product Development at Festo. “Our goal is to develop materials that will be easier to compost in the future. This opens up a whole new chapter in our Bionic Learning Network.”

Festo prototype at Hannover Messe

One of the biggest challenges lies in accurately determining the amount of biomass. To do this, Festo relies on quantum sensor technology from Q.ANT. “Our quantum-based particle sensors open the door to new processes, applications and industrial products. Using this technology for industrial photosynthesis is a great way to demonstrate how much potential it offers for the future,” says Dr. Michael Förtsch, CEO of Q.ANT. A prototype of a system with quantum technology will be presented at Hannover Messe 2022.

Quantum sensor enables cell measurements

The Q.ANT sensor provides precise, real-time information on the organisms’ growth. To obtain this information, algae are conveyed to the sensor automatically and continuously through special microfluidic components made by Festo, such as pumps that can handle extremely small quantities of liquids with outstanding precision. The quantum sensor is able to optically analyze individual cells in order to precisely determine the amount of biomass. It also checks the cells’ vitality with the help of artificial intelligence. Only then is it possible to respond proactively to process events and take steps to regulate them.

About Festo

Festo is an independent family-owned company headquartered in Esslingen am Neckar. It is also a global player that has been setting standards in industrial automation technology and technical training ever since it was founded, thus contributing to the sustainable development of the environment, economy and society. Festo supplies pneumatic and electric automation technology to 300,000 customers that use factory and process automation in over 35 different industries. Its LifeTech division, which offers solutions for medical technology and laboratory automation, is becoming an increasingly important part of its business. Festo’s products and services are available in 176 countries around the world. Employing some 20,000 people at over 250 branch offices in 61 countries, the company generated sales of around 2.84 billion euros in 2020. Each year, it invests approximately 8 percent of its turnover in research and development. As a learning company, it also invests 1.5 percent of its turnover in training and development programs. Festo Didactic SE is a leading provider of technical education and training. It provides customers worldwide with comprehensive digital and in-person learning solutions in industrial settings.

More information is available on Festo’s website at http://www.festo.de.

About TRUMPF

TRUMPF is a high-tech company offering manufacturing solutions in the fields of machine tools and laser technology. The Company drives digital connectivity in the manufacturing through consulting, platform products and software. TRUMPF is a technology and market leader in highly versatile machine tools for sheet metal processing and in the field of industrial lasers.
In 2020/21, the company employed some 14,800 people and generated sales of about 3.5 billion euros. With over 80 subsidiaries, the TRUMPF Group is represented in nearly every European country as well as in North America, South America and Asia. The company has production facilities in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, the United States, Mexico and China.

Find out more about TRUMPF at http://www.trumpf.de.

About Q.ANT

Founded in 2018, Q.ANT is a high-tech startup and part of the TRUMPF Group. Q.ANT’s vision is to improve the quality of how machines analyze their environment, how humans process information, and how we think. To achieve this goal, Q.ANT develops quantum sensors and quantum computing chips based on its Quantum Photonic Framework.

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