Later On

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Fascinating technology

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Just when you think some technology is totally stable and all problems resolved, some innovation crops up that presents measurable improvements. Like this:


This odd-looking swirly-shaped pipe (pictured) is a green technology from a new British company called HeliSwirl. It’s a swirly-shaped pipe. It’s also a low-carbon technology – not because it is made with low-carbon materials or through some new energy-stingy manufacturing process, but because, well, because it’s swirly shape helps fluids flow through it more easily, requiring less power to run the pumps that pump the fluid. It exists in part because U.K.-based incubator Carbon Trust helped fund it with a research grant.

Carbon Trust is a private company, set up by the British government in response to the threat of climate change and given the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by working with business and the public sector to develop commercial low carbon technologies and help organizations reduce their carbon emissions and – this is key – to help the U.K. capture the commercial opportunities of low carbon technologies.

Instead of flowing in straight lines, our blood swirls through our arteries in a helical motion. This inspired new technology that replicated the swirling flow in specially designed pipes – significantly improving fluid flow and enabling pumps to run at lower power. HeliSwirl, with research and development, incubator and investment support from the Carbon Trust, is now busy developing its low carbon technology to appeal to a wide range of industries, including oil and gas production, petrochemical processing, and water and wastewater processing.

The Carbon Trust incubator has helped HeliSwirl to successfully establish themselves in the market, with support that included mentoring them through their business planning, company formation and staffing. As well as providing a £100,000 research and development grant to HeliSwirl, the Carbon Trust has also made a substantial equity investment in the promising new company.

Who would have thought the design of a pipe could be a “green” technology?

And HeliSwirl is just one of Carbon Trust’s projects, according to a London Telegraph profile of Carbon Trust…

Rachael Nutter, the Carbon Trust’s business incubator manager, says: “We provide commercialisation support. It’s all about how you take innovative low-carbon products to market and how you raise the money to get there. Companies need to understand who will buy the product and why, and how they will make money from the idea.”

She says the incubator programme is most interested in technologies that have the potential to become commercially viable in the next few years and to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. “There has to be the foundation of a credible case to take to investors,” says Ms Nutter, “and solid patents need to be in place to protect organisations’ intellectual property. A strong and committed management team is also key; we can help build that team where necessary.”

Altogether, 51 companies have been through the incubator. The Carbon Trust typically works with companies for 12-18 months and takes businesses to their first rounds of funding or a licence deal. Seventeen organisations are currently supported by the incubator and 21 companies have succeeded in raising over £50m private funding to date; three others have secured licence deals and three have achieved IPO (Initial Public Offering).

Carbon Trust is one to watch for cool eco-friendly innovations and possible investment choices.

Written by Leisureguy

19 October 2007 at 11:52 am

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