Midlands firm Lontra has secured a £250,000 grant from Innovate UK to develop a prototype of its Blade Compressor for application across industry.
The ‘BladeAir’ project signals Lontra’s first move into the industrial compressor market worth well over £2billion per annum.
It follows the Napton-based company’s success in the £600 million per annum municipal and regulated wastewater industry, where the technology was licensed to global engineering business Sulzer in a multi-million pound deal last year.
Compressors represent 10% of industrial electricity usage in Europe and as much as 40% in some plants, the company said. That equates to more than 10TWh of electricity every year and 4.3 million tonnes of CO2.
“Industrial air is a large market. Compressors are one of the most energy-intensive tools,” said Steve Lindsey, founder and chief executive of Lontra and designer of the Blade Compressor.
“But the fact is today they are inefficient; either the air leaks or is not compressed properly. I believe we can take a big bite out of the industrial compressor market thanks to our efficient, oil-free design.”
Many of the current industrial air systems are based on designs dating back to 1935 that are expensive to manufacture and maintain, and are energy inefficient, said Lindsey.
A circular mechanism in the Blade Compressor replaces the old ‘up and down’ piston technology, compressing air or gas in front and inducing the air behind in continuous motion, minimising waste. For applications such as food processing, the oil-free design removes the risk of product contamination.
“The advantage of the Blade Compressor is that it is the geometry of the design rather than advanced materials that delivers the superior performance,” said Clive Patten of Sulzer Pumps.
“We therefore expect maximum reliability, which combined with the efficiency will deliver best-in-class life cycle costs.”