Françoise Sigot, correspondent in Lyon
The Lyon-based start-up has developed a technology to use the heat of the sun to decarbonize industrial processes. With a first application that transforms minerals into a more efficient sand, Heliosand won a construction contract in Dubai.
Assuming that the sun is an inexhaustible source of heat, Heliosand succeeded in concentrating this energy via a set of mirrors to produce very high temperatures. “Up to 1,400 degrees and very soon double”, assures Rafik Kheffache. The founder of the Lyon start-up, who is preparing to file two patents to protect his find, is convinced that he is thus opening the door “to a whole host of applications”.
The first concerns the production of sand. A resource that has become scarce, while its demand is exploding. “Our technology melts minerals to turn them into a kind of lava. By crushing it, we obtain sand with properties superior to the natural resource, in particular because it grips the concrete better and is very thermally insulating,” he describes.
The young company has just won its first market in dubai with three local construction groups, the ideal breeding ground in terms of the number of construction sites and especially the amount of sunshine. EDF also asked the company to burn the sludge that accumulates in its dams.
But the production of sand should only be part of the activity of Heliosand, which aims to offer its “solar ovens” to manufacturers in all sectors of activity. “Our ambition is to decarbonize the industry. Industrial processes pollute by heating, burning, cutting, melting. However, these are all thermal processes that can be carried out using the heat of the sun, ”says Rafik Kheffache.
According to his calculations, the amortization of a furnace can be done over one to three years depending on its power. Well aware that the main limitation of its technology lies in the amount of sunshine, the entrepreneur offers hybrid solutions. To raise its bet, Heliosand seeks to complete a round of funding while, until then, the company has conducted its research on its own funds, with the help of a few business angels who have brought it 300,000 euros.
The objective is to find at least 500,000 euros with financial partners who would come to join Bpifrance and the banks that Rafik Kheffache says are ready to complete their contribution and thus succeed in raising several million euros.
President : Rafik Kheffache
Effective : 2 people
Sector: alternative energy