Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


PureBlade Report Summary

Project ID: 778867

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PureBlade (PureBlade - Clean Sheet Compressor Design, Low Energy Air Supply for Food Drinks Production)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Air compressors are important because they are used by all sections of industry to supply air for a wide range of manufacturing processes. Air compressors consume around 10% of EU industrial energy use which equates to approximately 10TWh of electricity and 4.3M tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Both financial and regulatory pressures (Article 8(4) of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive) are raising the profile of industrial energy use. Audits of compressor systems reveal opportunities to upgrade with a short return on investment due to the expensive nature of wasted and leaked air; the Lontra solution presents the possibility of over 20% energy savings, which is equivalent to approximately 2TWh of electricity, and 860,000 tonnes of CO2 saved pa across the EU.

Food and Pharmaceutical manufacturers use oil-free, low pressure air compression technologies (known as ‘blowers’) but the core designs date back to before 1935. By investing in a clean sheet design Lontra have leapfrogged the competition and created a new state of the art technology with significantly improved efficiency and reliability; the Blade Compressor®.

Our Phase 1 market research project enabled us to better understand the work needed to develop the Blade Compressor® from TRL6 technology to TRL8 for the Food and Pharmaceutical markets, as well as mapping out our routes to market and next steps. A Phase 2 SME Instrument support would take us through the next risky technology development and market engagement – opening up significant market opportunities, accelerating Lontra’s growth and raising the bar of air compressor efficiency across industry.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Adapting Lontra’s blower technology to a high efficiency, high reliability, and high purity blower for clean pneumatic conveying applications has progressed well through the design stage, showing predicted improvements in energy consumption at the same time as reducing risk of delivered air contamination. CAD designs have been completed alongside production engineers and key suppliers, ensuring that components and assembly can be made to a high quality, and we already have a good view of manufacturing methods and costs. Design work has been supported by test work on silencing, with the objective of creating a class-leading product in noise-sensitive environments. The compressor enclosure and ancillary equipment will incorporate some novel features as well as including state-of-the-art features for ease of use, maintenance, and reliability.
Design work has started on the next sizes of blower, with the objective of satisfying customer requirements for the majority of positive displacement blowers where Lontra’s technology can bring energy savings, high uptime, and failsafe air purity.

The Phase 1 project initiated engagement with end-users and this has been expanded to ensure market needs are captured and addressed, at the same time as raising awareness of the forthcoming new product. Some key end-users have been identified to work with Lontra as early adopters; these are typically environmentally-responsible companies which recognize the need to reduce their energy consumption as important to continuing success.

The main routes to market however will be through distributors (typically full-service providers who install and maintain air systems) and integrators (compressor users who integrate the compressor into a bespoke system for an end-user) rather than direct sales to end-users. Lontra has engaged a new Commercial Director (April 2018) to identify and involve the most appropriate partners, and build a roadmap to roll out the new compressor across markets and geographic regions. This work is progressing well, with a good appetite within distributors to embrace Lontra’s new technology; the maturity of the compressor market is seen as stagnant rather than stable, and is proving to be more accessible than we first thought.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Bringing Lontra’s technology from TRL6 to TRL8 is not without risk, both technical and commercial; these risks have reduced considerably as design has progressed and we are increasingly confident of delivering significant benefits in lower energy usage, improved reliability, and ease of use. Response from end-users and distributors has been very positive, so that the limitation on rate of uptake is now seen as Lontra’s ability to ramp up production rather than customer demand.

With current estimated ramp up of production it is estimated that annual energy savings in clean pneumatic conveying users will reach 0.5 billion kWh per year within 5 years, plus inroads into other markets. This is not only a significant contribution to meeting climate-change targets but is likely to influence the whole of the compressor industry, demonstrating that significant improvements are possible and influencing energy-saving legislation.

As well as environmental benefits and reducing costs for industrial users, Lontra’s plans to increase production and bring the technology to other markets will create a new major player in the compressor industry. Although there are large compressor companies based in Europe (Atlas Copco is by far the largest with revenues around $14B, including manufacturing and sales worldwide), manufacturing in the industry is dominated by major companies in the USA (such as Ingersoll Rand, revenue around $14.2B), and companies in the Asia-Pacific region; Lontra’s new technology manufactured in the EU can become a keystone of an industry estimated to be worth $60B worldwide.

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