Vert Rotors has developed a conical rotary compressor, capable of producing high pressures at variable speeds with low noise and vibration. The invention is a completely new approach to the design of a compressor, although like traditional twin screw devices, it uses a pair of rotors to generate pressure. Vert’s novel step is to place one rotor inside the other, instead of side by side, resulting in greatly improved performance for the same space and weight. Those delegates at YCF’s annual conference last year who heard founder Olly Dmitriev talk about the device will have been impressed by the company’s innovation, ingenuity, and excellence in CNC manufacturing and engineering.
Since then, Vert has moved from investigating different sizes and specifications for the compressor to focusing on market entry. A new CEO has been appointed, Dr Phil Harris (previously CEO at Clear Surgical), who brings to Vert a wealth of early stage company experience from start-up to exit. New heads of marketing and sales have also joined the business.
One of the first tasks undertaken by the new team was a market mapping exercise, to see which aspects of the compressor’s performance were of value in which markets or market niches.
Approximately 80% of UK industry uses compressed air, usually provided by traditional large compressors in a centralised location. As compressor suppliers have been providing the same technology for many decades, the cost of the units has been driven down and efficiency improved, so it would not be possible for Vert to compete directly for the installed base. However, the efficiency of a centralised system depends upon the continuity of usage, and Vert has seen an opportunity to provide stand-alone compressors at times when the centralised supply of compressed air is unavailable, for example at week- ends.
Consequently, the company has developed the A100 unit, a portable, quiet, clean air compressor, weighing 36kg and capable of delivering 100 lpm at 10 bar.
Thanks to a £410k grant from BEIS’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund 7, Vert is currently shipping 30 of these units to selected customers (mainly in the metrology lab sector), where energy usage will be monitored both before and after the introduction of the A100 machines. Results from these pilot sites will be available before the end of this year, and will guide Vert in the development of future products.
A second compressor with similar characteristics, the A150 with a flow rate of 150 lpm, is due for launch in September.
Vert has now developed a strategy of concentrating on the A series of compressors to be manufactured in house. The A150 compressors will initially be aimed at the fibre optic cable blowing market where low noise, portability and 100% duty cycle are distinct advantages, and it is looking at three or four more niche markets with similar size and power requirements to enter next year.
Other specialist applications of the Vert technology will be pursued in collaboration with partners for integration in other products, in fields such as spacecraft and refrigeration. Vert has already signed an MOU with a US aerospace business for one such application.
Vert has been supported throughout its development with investment from Equity Gap, Par Equity, AeroDen, and the Scottish Investment Bank, and has raised approximately £4 million equity in aggregate, in addition to grant funding. The company is now planning to embark on a large funding round to complete by the end of this year, with a £3 million target, which is likely to introduce new investors such as VCs.