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£250K Government grant for Lontra prototype



Midlands firm Lontra has secured a £250,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, through its Smart programme, to develop a prototype of its revolutionary Blade Compressor® for application within general 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 £600million 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.


Almost all (c. 90%) manufacturing industries use compressed air in some aspect of their operations; it is often referred to as the fourth utility after gas, water and electricity. It is used for everything from powering the tools in factories to powering the spray guns which paint our furniture and cars. Yet current industrial air systems are based on designs dating back to 1935 that are expensive to manufacture and maintain, and are energy inefficient.


Steve Lindsey, founder and CEO of Lontra and designer of the Blade Compressor®, says:

“Industrial air is a large market. Compressors are one of the most energy-intensive tools. 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.”


Lontra’s proven and patent-protected Blade Compressor® is the first clean sheet compressor design in 80 years. A circular mechanism 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, its oil-free design removes the risk of product contamination.


Clive Patten of Sulzer Pumps, says:

“Incorporating Lontra’s technology into our compressor product portfolio will provide our customers with another high-tech solution allowing them to significantly reduce their energy and operational 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 delivers the superior performance. We therefore expect maximum reliability, which combined with the efficiency will deliver best in class life cycle costs.”


To assist in securing licensees and customers, Lontra today announces the appointment of Rick Stasyshan as Head of Business Development in North America. The Rutgers University graduate spent 24 years with Sullair Corporation as Vice President and General Manager. He is a technical consultant to the Compressed Air and Gas Institute, an industry focused trade association supporting the compressor industry whose members include all major global compressor companies.


Lindsey added:

“Rick’s appointment reflects our ambition at Lontra to build on our success and expand into new applications and markets. With the total global compressor market worth more than £20billion per annum and growing, the market opportunity is huge.”


Compressors represent 10% of industrial electricity usage in Europe and as much as 40% in some plants. That equates to more than 10TWh of electricity every year and 4.3 million tonnes of CO2.

Lontra secures multi-million deal with global manufacturer Sulzer

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.

Midven invests in Lontra

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.”

Lontra film released by Carbon Trust

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