In our exploration of business and innovation, we often come across remarkable individuals who bring a mix of skills, unique ideas, and a strong commitment to what they do. These go-getters stand out by combining various talents and experiences.
Today, we're excited to introduce you to Dr. Ann-Kathrin Andresen a fantastic person who blends vision, hard work, and a range of skills in process engineering.
Ann-Kathrin takes on challenges in scale-up and development of processes with a creative approach and a genuine passion.
She describes herself as a problem solver and an expert for the chemical industry.
Join us in discovering more about Ann-Kathrin and get insights from our special interview with her.
After spending numerous years in the industry, what led you to choose self-employment?
Ann-Kathrin: Transitioning to self-employment felt like the right move for me. I was prepared to shoulder full responsibility for my work and its execution. The desire for the next step and the inspiration to pursue my own endeavors motivated me. Positive experiences in my professional journey played a role in this decision, allowing me to understand myself better, build confidence, and discern what truly matters to me.
My passion lies in both the technical aspects, such as process engineering, developing new processes, optimizing systems, and problem-solving, as well as in working collaboratively with individuals, particularly supporting engineers, and chemists in charting their unique paths.
In our initial discussion, you emphasized expertise in three key areas: pyrolysis, scale-up processes, and mentoring for engineers, chemists, and startups.
Could you delve deeper into each of these focal points?
Ann-Kathrin: For the first decade of my career, I worked with a company dedicated to developing a new industrial plant for the pyrolysis of scrap tires. As the person in charge of technology, I oversaw the entire process from planning and construction to operating the plant.
We also conducted tests on pyrolysis for various waste materials, giving me a deep understanding of pyrolysis processes. The challenge of scale-up was a significant focus, as transitioning a working process from the laboratory to large-scale production poses its own set of difficulties.
This experience fueled my connection with startups navigating the development of technical processes, an area I am familiar with from my own journey. My passion lies in supporting these young companies with my expertise.
In my previous role, I played a key part in introducing and onboarding new technical staff. This often began with supervising their final theses, an effective way to attract motivated talent to a budding company. I hold a special affinity for engineers and chemists starting their careers, recognizing the importance of carving one's authentic path for success and happiness.
I believe in the power of determined individuals to tackle our pressing challenges, such as climate change and resource scarcity.
The scale-up phase in product development can be challenging.
Given your extensive experience with various scale-up and individual customer projects, could you elaborate on your approach in handling this crucial stage?
Ann-Kathrin: Well, every scale-up process comes with its unique set of challenges. However, I'd like to emphasize a few key points to consider when scaling up a new process.
Firstly, aim for the simplest solution when planning a plant or system, introducing complexity only when necessary. This not only aids in troubleshooting and optimization later but often enhances the economic viability of the plant. Standardizing the process as much as possible is beneficial.
Throughout the scale-up, it's crucial to keep the end goal of a functional industrial process in mind at every stage. This foresight helps anticipate challenges related to material flow, heat transfer, homogeneity, etc., ensuring that the results are transferable.
During the planning phase, pay close attention to the entire plant and the interactions between different components.
Consider the requirements dictated by the process and the substances involved. Remember that the quantity and quality of the product depend not just on the input material but also on the plant itself, the process parameters, and how you operate the plant.
Can you tell us about your additional expertise and the resources you can offer to your customers?
Ann-Kathrin: As I reflect on my professional journey, it's evident that tackling challenges and optimizing process engineering systems has been a consistent theme throughout. It all began with my diploma thesis, where I delved into an industrial project, identifying the causes of explosions and establishing safer process parameters.
In my PhD thesis, I worked on another industrial project, successfully resolving issues like ignitions, coking, regeneration, and catalyst discharge in industrial plants. Even during my tenure at a real estate project developer, where sustainability was my primary focus, I applied my process engineering expertise to achieve substantial cost savings in the analysis and maintenance of a water treatment plant.
Can you share a project that holds a special place in your heart?
Ann-Kathrin: I take pride in contributing to the development and operational success of an industrial plant for the pyrolysis of scrap tires. The memorable moment was the first successful operation, running the plant hot with tire granulate and witnessing the seamless execution of all process steps, resulting in the production of the first oil.
Additionally, it was gratifying to observe the development and personal growth of new employees.
What challenges are you currently facing and noticing in the processing industry?
Ann-Kathrin: We are in a world with finite resources, emphasizing the need for increased attention to recycling. This calls for the development of new processes and innovative solutions. Scaling up a new process to an industrial level can be demanding and requires perseverance.
From my perspective, there is a shortage of funding programs specifically for the scale-up phase. While there are numerous funding programs for laboratory and pilot plant scales, there is a notable gap for upscaling to the industrial level. I believe there should be more funding initiatives in this crucial area, whether for the development or commissioning of such plants.
How can potential clients access your services, and what is your approach when taking on new projects?
Ann-Kathrin: At the initial stages of my self-employment, my primary focus involves serving as an external consultant for various consulting firms. Those dealing with process engineering challenges, especially with pyrolysis, are encouraged to reach out.
I provide assistance and guidance in developing new processes, for example within research projects, along with support for system optimization and evaluation. The collaboration duration is flexible, ranging from a few hours to several months.
Regarding mentoring, I am available for companies seeking support for their employees, as well as directly for chemists and engineers. I also offer mentoring for startups engaged in the development of new technical processes.
Please feel free to contact me via email or LinkedIn, and we can explore the possibility of collaboration.
What would you like us and others to wish for you in 2024?
Regarding my self-employment, I hope to connect with individuals and companies whom I can assist with my expertise and experience. My aim is for both parties to emerge from our collaboration stronger.
I seek people and organizations committed to making a positive impact on the community, aligning with my own aspirations.
Dear Ann-Kathrin, thank you for generously sharing your time and providing insightful perspectives on your work and expertise.
We wish you engaging and rewarding projects ahead.
Dr. Ann-Kathrin Andresen
Has been mastering the challenges of process engineering plants for more than 15 years. Her experience ranges from developing a new industrial process to solving problems in industrial plants and identifying potential savings.
As part of her diploma and PhD thesis at the Chair of Chemical Process Engineering, she worked on industrial projects in cooperation with Mittal Steel and Evonik Stockhausen.
As deputy technical manager and head of process engineering at Pyrum Innovations AG, she developed a new industrial pyrolysis process for scrap tires. At BPD Immobilienentwicklung GmbH, she worked on tasks related to sustainability.
Would you like also to become a catalyst of innovative ideas and sustainable solutions?
Work on extremely interesting projects?
Help others to create tremendous value?
Make sustainable solutions a wonderful reality? Share your vast experience to master challenges?
If yes, the next post might be about you and your company!
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