Brussels, 18 Apr 2003
The Innovation Relay Centre (IRC) network has helped a UK based family business fulfil its dream of commercialising an innovative turbine engine that it had developed over 10 years.
Archer Trice, a father and son partnership, developed a highly efficient rotary engine with potential applications in a number of markets, including fixed power generation.
The engine incorporates a number of innovative features, including a computer controlled combustion process and a water injection system which allows much of the heat normally lost in exhaust gases to be recovered. It also has fewer moving parts than a regular four stroke piston engine, which makes it smoother, quieter and less likely to break down.
Laurie Archer, managing director of Archer Trice, explains: 'This powerful combination delivers an even better efficiency than the standard turbine engine by converting the maximum heat energy to mechanical energy and reducing losses to a minimum.'
The idea was picked up by the East of England IRC, who first conducted a technology review of the engine's unique features, checked its patent status, and helped Archer Trice define the type of technology partner that fitted their goals and needs. The centre then helped draft a technology offer which was sent out to the network of 68 IRCs across Europe.
A response to the offer was received through the Netherlands IRC from a subsidiary of ICCU Holdings, a group of high-tech companies committed to preserving natural resources as part of their business philosophy.
David Reynolds, European technology adviser at the East of England IRC says: 'It is almost invariably global players such as Honda or Ford who succeed in commercially exploiting breakthroughs in engine technology. Innovative, small companies seldom get a look in. This is what makes the Archer Trice story so unusual.'
Backed by a consortium of UK, Dutch and German companies, Archer Trice and ICCU are now developing the engine as part of a prototype natural gas fuelled generator designed to power up to 1,000 homes. On top of the improved efficiency that the engine supplies to the generator, its constant output means that excess capacity can be sold to the national grid.
A fully fledged advanced version of the generator will be built in Germany within the next nine months.
'Assuming it works and goes into the marketplace, the potential in terms of market share, earnings and jobs will be very significant,' adds Dr Reynolds.
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