A remarkable duo

Dr. Sören Neuberger and Dr. Fabian Kaiser

They met at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University, went on to take a master's degree and decided to complete their doctorates. Today, Dr. Sören Neuberger and Dr. Fabian Kaiser work at Freudenberg in Weinheim and are living proof that scientific careers can start quiet unusually.

They both have a lot of paperwork behind them. Anyone wanting to pursue a doctorate at a university after completing a practice-oriented dual study program needs to cross numerous administrative hurdles. The admission criteria are complex and the doctorate models are very different.

But Dr. Sören Neuberger and Dr. Fabian Kaiser were willing to take this on. "Only comparatively few graduates of "dual universities" take this path," says Neuberger, who began working at Freudenberg twelve years ago, right at the outset of his studies. His fellow student initially graduated from another employer, leaving them as the effects of the global financial crisis took hold, which battered the company where he was training. He then moved to the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University before joining Freudenberg on completion of his Master's degree. Here, the two men began to concern themselves with seals and also presented their doctoral theses on this subject.

Technology experts: Dr. Sören Neuberger (left) and Dr. Fabian Kaiser.

Here, the two men began to concern themselves with seals and also presented their doctoral theses on this subject. Kaiser developed a simulation program, with the help of which the tightness of rod seals can be calculated. It helps developers to select the optimal seal variant for the particular application and to assess its performance. This allows customers to significantly reduce the number of necessary tests during the development process.

Neuberger devoted himself to the further development of Levitex, a gas-lubricated mechanical seal. With Levitex, the glide ring runs together with the mating ring on an air cushion. The basic idea for Levitex came from business partner Burgmann Automotive. Neuberger simplified the first, still highly complex generation and succeeded in transferring a product that had been designed for compressors and turbines to the requirements of combustion engines. As a result, 90 percent less friction losses can be achieved compared with a conventional crankshaft seal, which reduces CO2 emissions by up to one gram per kilometer. This product was highly valued by the industry, which was decisive in winning him and his then project team the Freudenberg Innovation Award 2016.

"I am very glad that Freudenberg gave us the opportunity to pursue our own scientific path. This is not something you can take for granted from a company operating under economic market conditions", said Kaiser. "We are the best example of the fact that scientific careers do not always have to originate at university to be successful."

Kaiser has worked for Freudenberg Technology Innovation since 2016, dedicating himself to the tribology and lubricant film calculation of various Freudenberg applications. "Tribology lies at the interface between chemistry, physics and engineering sciences and is an extremely exciting topic", explained the 32-year-old. "The interesting thing about my work is the combination of simulation calculations and subsequent experiment." Even as a small boy, Kaiser wanted to get to the bottom of things and understand why something worked – or didn't.

Neuberger, too, was never content with the strict rote learning of formulae. "In the course of our studies, we quickly realized that we shared a similar way of learning and that we definitely wanted to apply our knowledge in a concrete way." Today, Neuberger is responsible for Process and Tool Technology at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, which is jointly used by the Lead Center Simmerring Industry and the Competence Center Transmission and Driveline, and develops new formative procedures for the tried and tested Simmerring. The 34-year-old heads a team of 50 and benefits every day from his broad background knowledge: "It is not always easy to unite scientific requirements and economic benefits in the development process, but that is precisely the challenge I value."


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