Molecor – Let There Be Water
Molecor has revolutionised water distribution infrastructure with its innovative products, promoting cost-effectiveness and sustainability.
Spanish Molecor specialises in the development of a technology that offers astonishing mechanical properties to pressurised water pipeline solutions. Founded in 2006 by highly skilled engineers with proven experience in the plastic piping segment, the company promotes Molecular Orientation, a revolutionary process that provides reliable and user-friendly systems that widen the possibilities for water distribution worldwide.
Since its foundation in 2006, its exponential growth and continuous improvement in the development of the technology for the manufacture of Oriented PVC pipe systems, have made the company a global leader in water piping solutions. PVC-O pipes have a lower environmental impact according to Teppfa’s Environmental Product Declaration (EPD).
Headquartered in Madrid, Molecor employs over 130 people, of which a high percentage are engineers, and runs operations around the globe. “We are in a robust position now – we have recently commissioned two new factories, one in South Africa and one in Paraguay, and this year we are opening another two, in Latin America and eastern Europe,” says CEO Ignacio Muñoz de Juan.
“Our focus is on water transportation. We secure the most efficient water transportation in the world, to save costs while reflecting environmental considerations. That is our core business.”
An innovative attitude has been the very basis of the business’s development, and Molecular Orientation has been the basis of the company’s products. What are the technology’s benefits? Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is essentially an amorphous polymer in which molecules are aligned at random. However, by stretching the material and under certain conditions of pressure, temperature and speed, the polymer molecules can be aligned in the same direction as it has been stretched. The result is a plastic with a laminated structure, whose layers are visible to the naked eye.
“While the Molecular Orientation process greatly enhances PVC’s physical and mechanical properties, it has no impact on the chemical properties of the original polymer. This makes for plastic with unbeatable tensile strength and fatigue, ductility and resistance to impact. These characteristics mean that the pipes can be installed more easily, which translates into significant cost savings,” explains Mr Muñoz de Juan.
At the end of last year, Molecor reached a new milestone in the development of Molecular Orientation technology by launching the first DN1000 mm Oriented PVC pipe. This new diameter, together with the existing ones, aims at optimising available resources and reducing both installation and maintenance costs in hydraulic infrastructures, with a 50-year guarantee.
“In the segment above 500 mm diameter, we have no competitors. Our next launch will be a DN1,200 mm pipe, a size that can bring water to a city of one million inhabitants. However, what further enhances our competitive advantage is that we do not produce just the pipes – we offer a range of fittings as well, indispensable in pipe systems to connect straight pipes, fit them to different sizes or shapes and for other purposes such as regulating fluid flow.”
“We want to be unique and do things that nobody else is doing,” says Mr Muñoz de Juan. And Molecor does that very well. Currently, most piping systems for high-pressure water transport use ductile iron fittings or injection-based plastic fittings. The former ones are heavy and oxidise relatively easily; the latter requires very expensive moulds and large amounts of raw material. Molecor has come up with the most eco-friendly and cost-effective solution among the alternatives, that also provides the best performance.
The application of Molecor’s expertise together with the support of the European Union have allowed the development of a cutting-edge technology capable of manufacturing ecoFITTOM® PVC-O fittings, a product manufactured 100% in Europe.
“From a geographical point of view, this is a major achievement, as most of the fittings currently come to Europe from the Far East where production was transferred some years ago. Within this project worth EUR 6 million production, efficient and environmentally-friendly, is coming back to Europe.”
With ecoFITTOM® Molecor offers complete PVC-O systems for the conveyance of water under pressure. ecoFITTOM® guarantees full water-tightness in the joints as well as a lower risk of leakages or breakages thanks to the excellent technical characteristics obtained from the Molecular Orientation process.
The launch of both the DN1000 mm pipe and ecoFITTOM® have been an important turning point in the market, duly recognised by the industry – at the end of last year, Molecor was awarded the QIA 2020 Award in the category of Potential Innovations, for the development of the quality innovation “M-OR-P 5012 technology, manufacturing of Oriented PVC pipes (PVC-O) of large diameter DN500-DN1200 mm”.
“It is not only product development that we invest in, substantial amounts are also going into our production capability,” says Ignacio Muñoz de Juan. “Last year, we launched two new production lines. One was started within the EU programme for ecoFITTOM®, but the other was an unexpected boost, implemented in a short space of time in response to increased demand. Even with the extension, our capacity is now fully utilised and we plan to install another production line in 3 to 4 months.”
Demand is also coming from previously saturated markets, he affirms. While from the beginning the company focused primarily on developing countries in need of new water infrastructure, the global pandemic made traditional European markets, i.e., countries with well-developed hydraulic infrastructures, look at enhancements to boost food self-sufficiency.
“This is a new trend, emerging only last year, but one that is expected to last for some time,” noted the CEO, adding that for the company – classified as an essential business that kept going throughout the pandemic – Covid-19 has ultimately had a positive impact on sales. This, combined with a financial injection from a new investor who stepped into the company last year, will further push international expansion.
“In addition to the two new factories that we plan to open this year, investment in product development has further intensified. We are now working on a solution to improve the water infrastructure performance in earthquake situations. This will add substantial value in countries like Peru or Japan. Also, our commitment to the environment has been reinforced with eco-designed products.”
Reflecting on future developments, the says: “Given climatic changes and market developments, Molecor is set to play a big role globally, expanding to new countries and new continents but also reinforcing its position in Europe. I see very good years ahead.”