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The Whitefox Story – Empowering More from Less
As a world, we are on the cusp of an energy revolution. Whether in our homes or in industry, conserving energy is on everyone’s mind. Furthermore, wasting less and getting the most out of our resources are values that mirror the founding principles of Whitefox – to produce more from less, and prevent waste from being formed in the first instance.
The need to conserve energy has never been so pressing, but Whitefox solutions can support industrial producers in resolving the issues at hand. The forgotten step in industry is undoubtedly membrane separation – a quiet but transformative process, mapping a path to Net Zero. Our founder, Stephan Blum, reflects on the Whitefox story since its foundations, and looks to the next chapter at an increasingly prevalent time for the energy industry.
Bound to and born from nature
The inspiration for Whitefox’s technology comes entirely from nature, more specifically, from morphology. Our expert processes within conservation and maximisation are inspired by the natural environment itself. Membranes are nature’s most successful separation component – within all of our organisms, membrane semipermeability makes the production and transport of components possible; they enable growth, diversification, and abundance. At their essence, they help produce more from less.
In studying membranes, our founder Stephan became fascinated by the elegance of this natural-born filtration process. “I always found their separation inspiring – sending a solution across a membrane and two different streams coming out at the other side. It’s such an elegant and simple process”, says Stephan. Whitefox’s journey began with Stephan walking door to door with a membrane module; “I had one membrane that I could stick under my arm, and I’d go from one potential customers to the next trying to spread the word”. The first round of membrane development was in 1998, but as the saying goes, it takes 20 years to have overnight success.
Technologies for separating molecules according to their chemical properties or size have long been underdeveloped or expensive to scale up, but Whitefox’s technology offers a solution to bridge this gap. Despite staying true to what has been well established to work technically, Whitefox has evolved through industries. In fact, the membrane model used today is the very same as the first ever sold.
Through the years, Whitefox’s membrane technology has spanned from initially specialising in fuel cell applications to perfumes and pharmaceuticals, eventually specialising in our current focus on ethanol. The ethanol market is a niche, repetitive, and large quantity industry – harnessing these traits, it’s been of fundamental worth it to develop a process that consistently delivers tailor-made solutions for customers.
An energy and technology revolution combined and prolonged
For too long the energy sector has been dominated by fossil fuels, and has come to be responsible for 73% of all human-caused GHG emissions. The energy revolution, maximising renewable and efficient energy systems, strives to combat these damages and drive real environmental and social change. Whitefox embodies the energy revolution and sees parallels between now and the technology revolution, which transformed our day-to-day living. The idea of purification without negative environmental impact was one of Whitefox’s founding inspirations – conserving energy, preventing waste, and generating value. Empowering more from less is a visualisation of the membrane itself. Whitefox sees these dual paths as a map to a Net Zero, and an integral part of the energy revolution.
As an integrated technology, electrical semiconductors have empowered the world we live in today – mobile phones, television, washing machines, LED bulbs, digital cameras, none would be possible without the innovation of the semiconductor. Membranes acting as molecular “semiconductors” have offered a similar revolution; batteries, fuel cells, refrigerators, water purification, the separation components made available through this technology have transformed the way we live, and the road doesn’t stop here. Through increasingly advanced applications, membrane technology offers innovative solutions within SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel), carbon capture and boundless further ways to make a sustainable, Net Zero future possible.
Whitefox membranes reduce the energy demand in order to achieve product or process goals – but combining it with other unit operations is how Whitefox mirrors semiconductor innovation. In considering membrane functionality, the ‘semi’ within semipermeability is an intrinsic element of this idea – much like what we see within Integrated Circuits (ICs) or chips; by merging technologies we can achieve processes that are otherwise not possible. Combining industry expertise has always offered immeasurable opportunity to cultivate change, and this is what we at Whitefox are increasingly excited about.
Collaborating towards excellence and change
Much like how the tech revolution embodied by ‘Intel inside’, the energy revolution we are on the edge of can feel inspired by Whitefox technology. “Intel produced the chips, but they didn’t produce the laptop. Somebody else did that, but chip combined with other components was what made the laptop work. Intel was the mark of high quality processing, and that’s what Whitefox membranes are” Stephan reflects.
Operational excellence wouldn’t be possible without extensive testing and development when designing process integration. We have optimised and standardised this through decades of expertise. But in no way would this be possible without our collaborators – our customers.
“You have to build the confidence until you build the trust. Then you must overcome the hurdle that’s being asked of us. And then people trust your technology. That’s how we’ve built relationships”, Stephan reflects. In looking to develop new, increasingly enhanced technologies, building trust with our collaborators has been an essential part of our story. It’s only through harnessing and nurturing these relationships that we have the opportunity to develop technologies that can accelerate the energy revolution.
The benefits of these relationships are multifaceted. Not only does this mean that we at Whitefox can feed our purpose and founding value to produce more and waste less, we can offer our customers the opportunity to maximise their inputs and outputs whilst also reducing costs and carbon emissions.
The next chapter of The Whitefox Story
So, what is the next chapter of the Whitefox story? One thing we are extremely assured of is our industry knowledge. Our expertise within our specified field means that we know exactly where the next developments are going to be, and we can focus on the applications we need to go for.
“We have the whole world in front of us, but we know exactly where to go to and that’s how we develop our path for the next developments”, Stephan explains. Our team of expert engineers are highly skilled and innovative in optimising the unique membrane processes for each customer, providing both the hardware and software to support customers in attaining their goals. This is where Whitefox’s USP lies.
The diversified expertise within our passionate team of innovators means that we can target areas where we see the most need for our technology, and know exactly how. We have cultivated a highly unique working and ideation approach which empowers us to excel to the forefront of industry and drive real change.
The Whitefox story is only just beginning, and it couldn’t be happening at more of an integral time for the energy revolution.
About Whitefox Technologies Limited
Whitefox Technologies, with 22 years of industrial experience, is a leading solutions provider for fuel ethanol and other alcohol production processes. Specializing in technology development and process integration based on proprietary membrane solutions, its efficient designs reduce energy and water consumption in fuel ethanol and other renewable fuel and chemical production processes. Whitefox provides solutions for alcohol producers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and South America.