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Annual Report 2008 - AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group NV

Annual Report 2008 - AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group NV


DSS CRYSTALLIZATION FURNACE FOR SOLAR SILICON systems for the conversion of titanium sponge, scrap or revert material into commercial grade or alloy grade titanium. The Division continued its world-leading position in vacuum arc remelting furnaces for processing titanium and titanium alloys. In particular, the Division’s electron beam furnaces utilize an energy efficient process for recycling titanium scrap and revert material. Although the delayed production of new aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 negatively impacted the short term demand for titanium, the growth of titanium sponge production and the large spectrum of applications for titanium should result in long term growth. Applications for titanium alloys include aircraft structural parts, heat exchangers and medical implants. Fuel efficiency-related revenues grew from $200 million in 2007 to $231 million in 2008, although the percentage of total sales declined from 64.2% to 53.0%, reflecting the rapid growth of the Division’s solar-related sales. Solar The Division’s principal products are DSS furnaces. These systems are used either to process polysilicon for the production of solar ingots (later sliced into photovoltaic wafers) or to purify metallurgical silicon for the production of UMSi. Incoming orders increased by 45%, as compared to the record level reached a year before. Solar-related sales grew from 36% of the Division’s total sales in 2007 to 46% in 2008. Nuclear The Division took full control of Furnaces Nuclear Application Grenoble S.A. (FNAG), a joint venture originally formed in 2007. In 2008, FNAG was awarded a detailed engineering contract for sintering furnaces for the Shaw Areva Mox Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina, USA. This facility will recycle weapons-grade plutonium and mix it with uranium oxide to form mixed oxide fuel elements for light water reactors. This contract forms the basis for further growth in the nuclear market. The Engineering Systems Division has also commenced development of a graphite-glass matrix technology to allow for the long term safe storage of radioactive waste. The technology is based on proven processes used for the production of prismatic nuclear fuel elements developed for high temperature reactors. Although this technology is still in the development stage, the Division has applied for several international patents. According to initial tests, the graphite-glass blocks containing nuclear waste allow for safe disposal for more than a million years, thus addressing recent concerns about the current vitrification technology. Production Traditionally, the Engineering Systems Division subcontracted the production of its vacuum furnace systems to a network of experienced suppliers. To support growth resulting from the significant increase in demand for its DSS and heat treatment furnaces, production was brought in-house during 2008. Production 22 Report of the Management Board | Business Review: Engineering Systems Division

MACHINING AT BERLIN PLANT capacity for DSS furnaces for solar silicon was increased from two furnaces per week in the first quarter of 2008 to seven furnaces per week by the end of 2008. Additionally, $7.2 million was invested in property, plant and manufacturing equipment to enable the manufacture of a broader range of products at the in-house facility. This investment has shortened delivery lead times, making the company more responsive to the demands of the market. New Product Development The Engineering Systems Division continued to develop new products, especially for solar energy and the next generation of electron beam-based energy sources to process refractory metals at temperatures above 2,000°C more efficiently. In 2008, the focus was on the next generation DSS furnaces for solar silicon with a crucible capacity of about 600 kg. This new furnace type will reduce the cost of ownership and further contribute to the industry’s target of achieving grid parity. Furthermore, a new generation of electron beam guns for the production of refractory metals at temperatures above 2,000°C was successfully tested and will now be installed in a pilot plant to analyze applications in metal production in the electronics and photovoltaic industry. The Research & Development program is also focused on improving the performance of its established furnace systems and to prepare access to new markets, such as heat treatment for aerospace and casting for industrial gas turbines. Outlook The Division’s order backlog provides a relatively high degree of visibility for 2009. Nonetheless, the economic crisis makes forecasts subject to significant uncertainty. The broad product range and the advanced technology standards of the Division’s vacuum systems give AMG a significant competitive edge in the markets addressed. The geographic diversification and the portfolio of end markets which the Division serves will help mitigate some of the challenges resulting from the current economic crisis. Report of the Management Board | Business Review: Engineering Systems Division 23

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