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Successful British engineering firm to invest millions into the Midlands through research into automotive supercharging and industrial air compression.


Lontra, the fast-growing Midlands firm backed by the Technology Strategy Board and The Carbon Trust, today announced the opening of a fresh funding round to secure new licensees for its ground-breaking Blade Compressor®.


The funds will support expansion into lucrative new markets in automotive supercharging and industrial air compression. The move provides investors with an opportunity to back a firm that this year granted global engineering business Sulzer a license to manufacture pumps based on its technology in a deal worth tens of millions of pounds in revenue over the next 20 years.


Funds raised through the round, expected to be Enterprise Investment Scheme qualifying, will fund a multi-million pound research and development effort to extend Lontra’s proven and patent-protected technology into new markets. Lontra’s Blade Compressor® is a replacement design for the industrial pumps and blowers that consume 10% of European industrial power. It represents the first clean sheet design in nearly 80 years for a market worth well over £20bn per annum, where today’s machinery is still based on designs dating to the 1935 Screw Compressor, Roots Blower (1867) and Vane Compressor (1588).


Lontra’s recent license to Sulzer was for the £600m per annum municipal and regulated waste water aeration market. Pumps incorporating the Blade Compressor technology are equally applicable to the industrial waste water aeration market, which is three times as large at £1.8bn per annum. Future R&D will adapt the Blade Compressor technology to match the needs of the industrial blower market with a view to seeking licensees for non-water applications of the same machines for industries ranging from cement, fabric and carbon black manufacturing to power generation worth a combined £2bn per annum.


CEO and founder Steve Lindsey, likened to British inventor and industrial designer Sir James Dyson by The Carbon Trust, says:

“Our technology is proven, licensed and in production. The myriad benefits of our novel design include low maintenance, low cost manufacture and low energy use. We have demonstrated the Lontra technology to great acclaim in the Water Industry with Severn Trent Water’s first machine having run the equivalent of 3 years duty without issue with their own figures showing a saving of electricity of 21%. This is a step-change in efficiency where many industries chase a few per cent gain. On the back of this trial Lontra won at the prestigious 2013 Water Industry Innovation Awards. We are now seeking investment to take this proven technology into new and even larger markets where our machine’s very high reliability and step change in efficiency will make a significant impact.”


To date Lontra has secured £5m toward the development of the technology and the business: £2.9m equity; £1.1m development finance/IP license revenue from partners; and £0.94m from public R&D grants. Equity investors to date include Imperial Innovations, Seven Mile Capital and MidVen, together with angel investors. Board members and their associates have invested £1.4m.


Lindsey is supported and mentored by Executive Chairman Peter Watson OBE. The former engineering director for British Rail was also Chief Exec and Chairman of AEA Technology where he was part of the team that licensed the Lithium Ion battery to Sony, technology that is today used in nearly all laptops and mobile phones. Lontra’s UK business development is run by the ex-Sales Director of leading compressor service company Motivair and the firm has a strong and growing representation in the US.


Novel IP has potential to reduce energy bills in water treatment by 20%.


Lontra, a fast growing Midlands firm, has secured the first global license for its Blade Compressor® technology. The deal signed today with Sulzer, a global leader in pumping equipment with 21 manufacturing facilities worldwide, will see aeration equipment incorporating the British technology sold across 150 countries.


The Blade Compressor® was awarded Most Innovative New Product at the 2013 Water Industry Achievement Awards and described as a “step change in air compressor technology”. The novel design means the compact double acting rotary compressor is simple to manufacture. It has been proven in commercial operation with Severn Trent Water to deliver energy savings of over 20% compared to existing compressor technology.


The licensing deal provides Sulzer with global rights to incorporate the Blade Compressor® design into aeration equipment for the treatment of waste water. Sulzer offers a wide range of aeration systems for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment. The deal does not restrict the ability of Lontra to license the Blade Compressor® across related applications such as industrial compressed air.


Steve Lindsey, CEO and founder of Lontra, commented:

“Today’s deal with Sulzer is significant, but it’s the first of many potential applications of our intellectual property. We’re challenging the industry to think differently about compressor technology to deliver a better performance, better reliability and significant energy savings across a wide range of industries.”


Scot Smith, Division President of Sulzer Pumps Equipment, remarked:

“Incorporating Lontra’s technology into our product portfolio will provide our customers with the high-tech solutions they need to significantly reduce their energy and operations costs for this type of equipment. The advantage of the Blade Compressor® is that it is the geometry of the design rather than advanced materials that deliver the superior performance. We therefore expect maximum reliability and minimal life cycle cost.”


Water treatment is an energy intensive activity; accounting for 1% of the UK’s energy usage. Energy typically represents 28% of the operating costs of water industry operations, with aeration accounting for 55% of this . Severn Trent Water’s Chief Executive Tony Wray said that the Lontra Blade Compressor would save them £1.8M a year in electricity costs and reduce their carbon emissions by 3% if rolled out across their estate.


The Blade Compressor® is an innovative design which delivers significant efficiency gains over competing technologies. Its unique geometry gives internal compression with very low leakage and low inlet and outlet flow losses. The low leakage allows a wide range of efficient operation and allows the compressor to be directly coupled to a standard industrial motor rather than requiring a gearbox or belt drive. It is oil free and is made from standard, proven materials, the benefits coming from the geometry rather than novel materials or expensive machining.


Lontra has secured a letter of intent for 10 Blade Compressors® from Severn Trent Water, the first for this revolutionary new technology. The Blade Compressors® have been sold for installation in waste water aeration applications, where the new compressor reduces energy usage by over 20%.


Severn Trent Water has taken a leading role in the development of the energy saving technology, including development support and a site trial.


Simon Ashcroft, Lontra Commercial Director:

“Severn Trent Water has worked closely with Lontra and fully recognise the potential of the Blade Compressor® to reduce operating costs for their business. The very substantial lifetime energy usage reductions also meet their environmental and social priorities. The Blade Compressor® is unique in offering a 20% energy saving, which is a step change in the compressor industry.”


Severn Trent Water is one of the UK’s largest water and waste water companies. Mark R Jones, STW Waste R&D Manager:

“Severn Trent Water has been closely involved in the development of the Blade Compressor®, which we believe has the potential to contribute significantly to meeting our challenging waste water operational efficiency targets. The progression from a one off full scale pre mass production unit, to this conditional Intent to Purchase, is the next logical step for us as we undertake further durability and performance evaluation in the field.”


Lontra has prioritised waste water applications in its development roadmap. Activated Sludge Aeration accounts for 55% of the energy cost of waste water treatment, and is a major operating cost for the water industry.


Peter Watson, Lontra’s Chairman:

“Our first product sales are an important milestone in the development of the business. We look forward to further sales throughout 2012, where the water industry is our prime focus, and subsequent roll-out of the Blade Compressor® into new markets and territories.”


Severn Trent Water has taken a leading role in developing the Blade Compressor®, a novel technology which reduces energy spend on waste water aeration by 20%, backing technology start-up Lontra. In August the project secured a grant of £390k from The Carbon Trust in recognition of the energy saving potential, and the technology is being developed for trial on a Severn Trent Water site.The move strengthens Severn Trent Water’s (STW) relationship with the UK based clean tech start-up. STW has contributed to the specification of the Blade Compressor® for waste water aeration and is providing a test site at Worcester for a pre-production prototype.


Simon Hombersley, Lontra Business Development Director:

“Severn Trent Water’s long-standing support for the Blade Compressor® has ensured that we develop the compressor in the context both of the commercial priorities of the water industry and the technical specification for compressors for Activated Sludge Aeration. The Carbon Trust’s support is hugely valuable in bringing the project together, and recognises the substantial carbon reduction potential in improving efficiency in waste water aeration.”


Severn Trent Water, one of the UK’s largest water and waste water companies, has taken a leading role in developing solutions that reduce its energy consumption and meets its environmental objectives.


Mark R Jones, STW Waste R&D Manager:

“The Blade Compressor® should deliver significant benefits to our business through improved operational efficiency and contribute to a reduced carbon footprint. We are assisting with the development of this technology as we see the potential that this very novel design offers.”


Waste water aeration in the UK consumes very high levels of energy, and alone represents 55% of the energy cost of waste water treatment.


Caroline Fleming, Carbon Trust R&D Manager:

“The Blade Compressor® has the potential to make a significant reduction to the carbon impact of the water industry, and to be a commercially successful product. We are delighted to be supporting a technology that will have such a transformative impact on its marketplace.”


Lontra is prioritising the development of low pressure compressors for waste water aeration, alongside its other priority markets which include automotive superchargers, where the company has a development project underway with Ford. Lontra is in discussion with other water industry partners for further site trials for the Blade Compressor® from the end of 2011, ahead of the roll out of a full product range for waste water aeration.


The former Group Sales and Marketing Director of Motivair Simon Ashcroft has joined Lontra as Commercial Director.


Simon previously grew the business of Motivair and developed innovative products and services for the company, which is the UK’s largest compressed air management company. He secured and managed major customers and projects for compressors throughout the UK especially engaging with facilities management companies and energy reduction programmes.


Simon Ashcroft, Lontra Commercial Director:

“Lontra’s Blade Compressor® is an exciting new technology which delivers a major gain to industrial air compressor users – reduced energy spend. I’m delighted to be joining the company, and look forward to making a major impact on the compressor market in the UK and overseas.”


Lontra is developing the novel Blade Compressor®, a major development for the industry which reduces energy use by 20%.


Peter Watson, Lontra Chairman:

“Simon strengthens the Lontra team with his detailed understanding of the needs of compressed air customers and his experience of innovative compressed air solutions. He reinforces the company’s focus on the core markets for the Blade Compressor®


CleanTech start-up Lontra has secured £360,000 investment in a finance round led by West Midlands-based venture capitalists Midven. The investment in Lontra, from Midven’s Early Advantage fund, coincides with the company’s relocation to Napton, Warwickshire — as part of a significant phase in its development of energy efficient compressors and engines.


Midven, which invests in small and medium-size enterprises, led the investment round which included UK and US angel investors, alongside grant finance and customer development deals to be announced by the company shortly.


Andrew Muir, Midven Director, said:

“Lontra has broad intellectual property protection for their energy efficient technology with multiple applications in global markets. Midven is delighted to be investing in the company to fuel the next stage of growth.”


Lontra is an innovative clean tech business, which is developing a proprietary energy efficient compressor and engine design with applications including waste water treatment, industrial air and automotive superchargers.


Simon Hombersley, Lontra Business Development Director, said:

“Midven’s investment will help the company drive forward its commercial and technical development. We’re moving to the West Midlands to benefit from the skills of the engineering base in the region and we look forward to joining forces with other clean tech businesses in the region. We will be recruiting new engineering and other staff throughout 2010.”


Clean Tech developer Lontra has provided the first glimpse of the innovative Blade Compressor®, a technology that has been in development by the company since 2004.


The compressor, which was designed by Lontra’s Technical Director Steve Lindsey, is a rotary device with a wrapped toroidal chamber. The key features are a rotating blade, which passes through a slot in a rotating disc once per cycle. The unit is therefore a compact, double acting rotary compressor. An animation of the design, and an explanation of the technology, are at Lontra’s website


Prototypes demonstrate a 20% efficiency gain over traditional compressors, and has an innovative variable port design which allows it to meet changing application requirements whilst maintaining constant speed. The company has development projects underway with leading partners, including a development project for waste water compressors jointly funded by the Carbon Trust and Severn Trent Water.


The compressor is the core mechanical geometry of the range of Lontra’s applications, including the Blade Supercharger®, Blade Expander® and Lindsey Engine® technology.



The Carbon Trust, the UK’s non for profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, has released a film about Lontra and the innovative Blade Compressor®.


The Carbon Trust has incubated Lontra and provided grant support, and the film highlights the potential of the technology for energy savings and the role of the Carbon Trust in developing Lontra.


To view the Carbon Trust video click here


Clean tech developer Lontra has completed the next generation prototype of its innovative Blade Compressor®, which is 20% more efficient than traditional compressors.


The announcement comes after a period of development and refinement to improve the performance of the design and reduce manufacturing cost.


A prototype is available for demonstration to customers and partners.