Lontra today becomes one of the first recipients of prestigious investment from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ new fund, Stephenson LP. The fund has been introduced to back companies developing cutting-edge UK technologies.
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).
Like George 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 ten per cent 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 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. 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 the compact, double acting rotary compressor. 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.
Stephen Tetlow MBE, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:
“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.”
“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.”
Ian Cooke, Director, Innovations at the Carbon Trust, said:
“We have supported Lontra since early in their development, by working with them to both help commercialise and deploy their technology and it is one of our flagship success stories. Lontra secured a partnership to scale activities in the waste water treatment market on the back of a successful demonstration of its prototype with Severn Trent. This can be a difficult thing for an early stage tech company to do, particularly in this sector and with the capital cost involved.”
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% of UK electricity consumption of which the Blade Compressor® can save 20%. Blowers incorporating the Blade Compressor® technology are equally applicable to many other markets from cement production to applications on the oil and gas industry to food production and further licensees are expected to be announced soon.