By Karen Peattie

SCOTTISH manufacturer Vert Technologies has secured £60,000 from Innovate UK to fund the development of technology to harvest wasted energy from the UK’s natural gas distribution network.

The grant, from Innovate UK’s £134 million sustainable innovation fund aimed at helping SMEs respond to Covid-19, will be used to optimise the Edinburgh-based firm’s disruptive Conical Rotary Compressor (CRC) technology for expander applications which can harvest energy from natural gas distribution systems.

Large-scale compression stations have traditionally been used to drive the flow of gas through the UK’s fixed natural gas pipeline networks. However, as the pressure required by the majority of end-use applications is significantly lower, much of the energy added to the gas by compression is ultimately wasted.

Vert Technologies believes its CRC technology can be adapted to recover a significant portion of the wasted energy and use it to drive an electrical generator. The company will use its Innovate UK funding to develop the Conical Rotary Expander (CRE), in partnership with G-Plus Technology.

Dr Philip Harris, the chief executive of Vert Technologies, described this latest funding as “another landmark” for the company. He said: “We had already identified that the unique pressure and flow capabilities of our patented Conical Rotary Compressor could be well-suited to an expander application, and we believe that the learnings from this project will enable us to fill a critical gap between established technologies.

“This funding will allow us to explore opportunities in energy harvesting, initially from natural gas distribution but also across a range of other applications in growing markets.”

Innovate UK’s executive chair, Dr Ian Campbell, noted that the “best of British business innovation” had emerged during the pandemic. “Vert Technologies, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development,” he said. “Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hardworking people.”