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Feasibility assessment of direct drive high speed turbo compressors for production oil free compressed air for medium size applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TurboFeasibility (Feasibility assessment of direct drive high speed turbo compressors for production oil free compressed air for medium size applications)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2015-09-30

Compressed air industry is undergoing a radical change where the share of environmentally friendly oil free air is rapidly increasing and energy efficient turbo compressors are replacing traditional screw compressors. Tamturbo Oy is a high tech start-up company bringing the turbo compressor technology to medium size oil free compressed air applications of 60 to 250 kW as the only European manufacturer which is speeding up the revolution of the 10 B€ compressed air industry.

In the award winning Tamturbo direct drive design the turbo wheels of a two stage compressor are directly coupled to a high speed electric motor. The main benefits of the turbo design over state-of-the-art dry screw compressors are 15 % lower electricity consumption over the 10-15 year life cycle, decreased operating, maintenance, waste management and overhaul costs due to minimum wear, and the benefit over other turbo designs is better capacity control under variable loads.

Fast business growth is attempted by offering the compressors and related service packages under Tamturbo brand in Scandinavia and under Private Label or OEM contracts in other markets. Medium size compressor manufacturers which do not have access to oil free technology today are seen as the most promising commercialization partners. However, extensive field testing of prototype compressors is needed before full commercialization of the technology.

The objectives of the feasibility study were to acquire direct feedback from end users and potential Private Label and OEM partners as well as to identify European and international industrial field testing sites for prototype compressors. The Tamturbo business plan including marketing and IPR strategies has been refined accordingly. The actual field testing could be performed in a H2020 Phase 2 SME project.
The feasibility study consisted of four tasks.

1. ComVac 2015

Tamturbo participated in the ComVac 2015 exhibition in Hannover, Germany, April 2015, to meet potential end users, distribution partners and suppliers. Invaluable feedback to revise the business plan according to partner and end user needs was acquired.

2. Marketing strategy

The study confirmed that Tamturbo´s approach for fast international growth by partnering with other medium size compressor manufacturers as Private Label or OEM partners is feasible. The details of the marketing strategy including product and service portfolio as well as the commercialization schedules were refined and updated.

After successful field testing, Tamturbo is planning to launch one to two new products annually during the next five years.

3. Field testing sites

Field testing sites have been discussed with potential partners and five sites have been short listed. The sites are in 4 different countries and each site is for different end user sector including e.g. general manufacturing, food & beverages, pharmaceuticals, electronics and pulp & paper.

The actual compressor testing will be a central part of a H2020 SME Phase 2 proposal.

4. IPR strategy

The freedom to operate analysis has been updated. Over 200 competitor patents were reviewed, a part of them in greater detail. Tamturbo´s design is not infringing any of these patents. Also selected components, technology or solutions do not have legislative limitations in target countries. Tamturbo is in a process to be registered as trademark in the key market. The same applies to web domains.

Tamturbo has ongoing IPR-process to secure the competitive edge. Implementation of new technologies, innovative thinking and new system concepts offers opportunities for continuous improvements, which secures Tamturbo’s competitiveness. The first patent ”A solution for controlling a turbo compressor” has been granted in Finland (FI20105800) and Europe (EP2593648B1), and is in national patent approval process in ten key countries. Several other innovative concepts to improve the efficiency, control, and mechanical structure are at concept verifying stage.
The final results will be only available after field testing of the compressors in a H2020 SME Phase 2 project. Reaching the Phase 2 objectives and Tamturbo´s other business targets would mean:

• 15 % increased energy efficiency in oil free compressed air production
• Decreased operating, maintenance and general overhaul costs
• Decreased waste management costs
• Decreased compressor delivery costs and smaller compressor footprint at user site
• Improved capacity control in applications having highly variable loads
• Improved air quality and reduced occupational health effects by avoiding oil mist from oil lubricated compressors
• Increased competition within the air compressor industry
• Increased competitiveness of European and medium size compressor manufacturers
• Direct employment of 100+ people by Tamturbo by 2021
• Indirect employment of another 100 people in the European supply chain
Tamturbo compressor package
Tamturbo compressor core
Tamturbo stand at ComVac 2015