Midlands firm among first recipients of IMechE Innovation Funding
01 September 2015
Lontra has become one of the first recipients of investment from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ new fund to support UK innovators, Stephenson LP.
The Midlands firm won the investment having impressed with the success story of its revolutionary Blade Compressor. The new fund backs technologies that “give an impulse to invention likely to be useful to the world” - the original statement of purpose from George Stephenson, founder of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
Collectively, compressors account for ten percent of the world’s industrial electricity consumption. For 60 years, improvements in efficiency have been measured in single percentage figures, the Blade Compressor, as the first clean-sheet design in 80 years, offers a stated 20 percent reduction in energy consumption.
Steve Lindsey, founder and CEO of Lontra and designer of the Blade Compressor, is delighted to be the first to receive support and investment from the Institution’s Stephenson Fund. "This will support further development of our Blade Compressor as we seek new licensees," he says. "We’re proud that the industrial revolution continues to this day and that the UK remains at the forefront of engineering innovation.”
Backed by the Carbon Trust and Innovate UK, the Blade Compressor is already licensed and in production for the water industry. Today’s funding will contribute to further research and development to optimise the design of this compact, double acting rotary unit.
The design has the potential to produce air in the range of pressures required by industry, typically 7-10bar. Lontra is the first of two companies to receive investment from Stephenson LP, alongside fuel cell catalyst developer Amalyst.
“This investment by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers is not just about providing monetary investment, but about connecting Lontra to the vast resources and network of the Institution and its membership," says IMechE chief executive, Stephen Tetlow MBE. “The Stephenson Fund fulfils the Institution’s original purpose to give an impulse to invention and also help companies overcome the investment hurdle between Research and Development and bringing a product to market.
“I am really excited that through the Fund the Institution is able to support Lontra, as well as other companies, in developing exciting and innovative technologies which really are inventions likely to be useful to the world. This is the Institution getting back to its roots.”
A license for the Blade Compressor has been granted to global engineering company Sulzer for the municipal and regulated waste water industry and production units are already being installed at customer premises. Blowers for water aeration alone account for approximately 1 percent of UK electricity consumption.
Blowers incorporating the Blade Compressor technology are equally applicable to many other markets, from cement production to applications within the oil and gas industry to food production; further licensees are expected to be announced soon.