Most industrial facilities need some form of compressed air, whether that is for running pneumatic tools and actuators, or blowing bulk solids and powders through pipes. In fact, according to the Carbon Trust, approximately 10% of all electricity supplied to the industry is used to compress air, and in some industries, this can be account for over 50% of the total site electricity use. That equates to over 10TWh of electricity every year and 5 million tonnes of CO2, a significant financial burden for businesses and environmentally damaging.
Despite their ubiquity, the majority of compressors are based on aging designs that have evolved very little in the last 80 years. Changes that have been made to compressors over the years have been gradual, failing to significantly address fundamental design inefficiencies.
This is where Lontra’s Blade Compressor® comes in, the first digital by design compressor with a revolutionary geometry set to disrupt the market.
Lontra’s Blade Compressor® has completely new geometry, a step-change in gas compressor technology. Best imagined as a piston and a cylinder – but with the piston wrapped around inside so that it moves continuously, without stopping and starting.
This means that it has an almost continuous cycle, drawing in the air behind the piston or “blade” and compressing air in front, resulting in a smoother cycle that is quieter and produces less air leakage.
The Blade Compressor®’s broad sealing areas allow for excellent efficiency at relatively low rotational speed – another factor that contributes to its extraordinary reliability and working life.
The simple and effective sealing properties mean that the Blade Compressor® is oil-free by default, which is particularly significant in pneumatic systems in the pharmaceutical and food and drink industry where air purity is crucial for maintaining hygiene standards.
The compressor has also been designed from the outset to include the latest IoT sensing and reporting to maximize uptime and minimize already low lifetime costs.
Lontra’s Blade Compressor® in action
The benefits of the technology have been demonstrated at Severn Trent Water, one of the first companies in the UK to trial the Lontra Blade Compressor®. Since its trial in 2012, the technology has been working around the clock to aerate wastewater and has delivered energy savings of 21 percent, with a potential £1.8M reduction in the annual energy costs for the business.
Following the trial, Lontra signed a global licensee agreement for the Municipal and Regulated Wastewater Market with multinational Sulzer which has the ability to ship the product across 150 countries.
In 2015, Sulzer built 40 trial compressors using the unique Lontra Blade Compressor technology, with 16 placed in customer sites across Europe and the rest added to a hire fleet.
At the end of 2018, these units had accumulated almost 300,000 hours of run time with over 16,000 start-stop sequences on real treatment plant sites. As part of this product validation, four units with an average of 12,500 hours of use were selected for a detailed inspection.
The results confirmed the underlying reliability of this new technology. All four units, when re-tested performed with no degradation in efficiency from when they were first manufactured and showed no appreciable wear despite running for a sustained period.
Lontra’s successes have continued to highlight the potential of the technology in other industries and the design is gaining momentum across the engineering sector.
As energy demand escalates across all aspects of our global society, energy costs rise and businesses face increased competition. The Blade Compressor® has the potential to provide the industry with a “triple win”, offering businesses significant opportunities for improved reliability, reduced energy use, and the associated environmental gains.