A BELFAST firm has expanded into the USA with a deal worth £700,000 for machines which test catalytic converters.
A spin-out from Queen's University, Catagen company used its patented technology, developed over several years, to produce two small products for the automotive industry – Labcat and Testcat.
The larger Maxcat model – which is capable of testing four catalyst assemblies at once, providing safe and clean testing at significantly lower cost than traditional methods – has been snapped up by US firm MAHLE.
The first Maxcat machine has been completed and will soon be installed in the USA at the Michigan facility of MAHLE Powertrain.
Catagen co-founder and chief executive, Dr Andrew Woods, said that automotive companies needed to conduct extensive testing and verification on new and aged catalysts to verify that emission regulations will be met throughout the typical life of a vehicle.
"The development of Maxcat is a really significant moment for Catagen and the future of catalyst testing," he said.
"The industry now has a viable, full-size, much more environmentally friendly alternative method to age and test catalysts."
Hugh Blaxill, general manager of MAHLE Powertrain, added: "We are very pleased to be able to work with Catagen to bring this unique catalyst aging solution to the industry.
"The Maxcat's testing and aging solutions deliver significant reductions in operating costs with an increase in testing flexibility and agility."
MAHLE is a global manufacturer of components and systems for the internal combustion engine as well as vehicle air conditioning and engine cooling.
In 2014, some 65,000 employees at 140 production locations and 10 major research and development centres are expected to generate millions of pounds worth of sales.
Catagen built the equipment following research and development support from Invest Northern Ireland, which offered over £374,000 to support the development of the Maxcat, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Keremy Fitch, Invest NI's executive director of business solutions, commented: "The new technology has the potential to out-perform all current testing methods."