Airbus Defense and Space, a subsidiary of the Airbus group, has become the majority shareholder (51%) of Euro Heat Pipes (EHP).

This is a spin-off of the French-speaking Free University of Brussels (ULB). This was announced on Monday by Theodorus, the ULB investment fund. The Walloon region now holds 49% via SRIW (the Regional Investment Company of Wallonia) and Sogepa (the French state-owned body investing in European aerospace).

EHP was born of the collaboration, initiated in 2001, of the Faculty of Applied Sciences in ULB, and Sabca (the Belgian aeronautical construction company) to create a laboratory, unique of its kind, based upon microgravity in space. The aim was to create systems and innovations for aeroplane temperature monitoring.

The technology developed by the spin-off involves a cooling system, without using air or any of the aeroplane’s engines. It extracts the heat at source, carries it away and discharges it. The on-board electronic equipment is thus better protected owing to a lower constant temperature. The company says that the reliability of all of the aeroplane’s engines is thus optimised. It further adds that the process is particularly efficient in extreme conditions.

To design, produce and market its inventions, EHP has benefited from the financial support of Theodorus. The investment funds of ULB have acquired 50% of the capital from the spin-off. To enable the project to grow, Airbus acquired an interest in the business, with a shareholding of 16% in 2008. This share will now grow to a total of 51%.

In a few years, the turnover has gone from €2 million to €8 million and the company, based in Nivelles, now employs some 70 employees.