The Midlands firm won the investment after impressing with its Blade Compressor. The 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 IMechE.
Like Stephenson's miner's lamp and the Rocket locomotive, the Blade Compressor promises revolutionary benefits. Heavy industry depends upon compressors to deliver power to manufacturing lines, drive furnaces and convey materials. Collectively such compressors account for 10% of the world's industrial electricity consumption. For 60 years, improvements in efficiency have been measured in single percentage figures however, the Blade Compressor is said to offer a 20% reduction in energy consumption.
Steve Lindsey, founder and ceo of Lontra and designer of the Blade Compressor, says: "It's great 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."
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 the compact, double acting rotary compressor. Lontra claims the design has the potential to produce air in the range of pressures required by industry, typically 7 to 10Bar.
Stephen Tetlow MBE, chief executive of the IMechE, said: "The Stephenson Fund helps companies overcome the investment hurdle between Research and Development and bringing a product to market."
A license for the Blade Compressor has been granted to 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% of UK electricity consumption of which the Blade Compressor can save 20%.
Blowers incorporating the Blade Compressor technology are said to be equally applicable to many other markets from cement production to applications on the oil and gas industry to food production. Further licensees are expected to be announced soon.