UK: Liquid air company Dearman is set to bring its zero-emission transport refrigeration unit to market following a £16m investment.
The new investment from private investment firm Park Vale Capital brings the total funds, excluding grant funding, raised by Dearman during 2015 to £19.5m.
As well as enabling Dearman to bring the first application of its technology to market, it will also enable the company to establish initial UK-based manufacturing and achieve widespread international commercial deployment, while continuing to invest in R&D into further applications.
Discussing the announcement, Katherine Priestley, managing director of Park Vale said: “Dearman is an extremely exciting company that is developing unique technology to address a clear global need – clean cold. Although the applications of Dearman technology will bring demonstrable environmental benefits, it is the fact that they are also commercially attractive and even operationally superior that makes the company so promising. We look forward to working closely with the Dearman team to help maximise the impact of their innovation and the value we can create together.”
Toby Peters, chief executive of Dearman said: “To have partnership of this scale, from a company as respected as Park Vale, is a recognition of the potential of our technology, the quality of our team and the rapid progress we have made to date. We have a vision to utilise innovative clean cold and power technology to address global environmental challenges, while delivering economic returns for our shareholders and growth in the communities where we operate. With the support of all our investors I am confident that we can achieve and even exceed that goal.”
The latest round of investment includes continued backing from a broad range of investors, notably including Transmark NV, which is said to have provided substantial investment to date and continue to be actively involved in the business.
The technology is based on the Dearman engine, a novel piston engine powered by the phase-change expansion of liquid air or nitrogen. The developers claim that It will deliver major reductions in carbon, local air pollution, noise and cost. It works on the basis that liquid air – a liquid at temperatures below -194°C at ambient pressure – can be conveniently stored in insulated but unpressurised vessels. Exposure to heat – even ambient temperatures – causes rapid re-gasification and a 700-fold expansion in volume, which can be used to drive a turbine or piston engine.
The addition of waste heat from, say, an internal combustion engine will increase the work that can be extracted from the expansion of liquid air. That expansion also gives off large amounts of valuable cold, which can provide ‘free’ refrigeration or air conditioning, or be used to increase the efficiency of diesel engines or hydrogen fuel cells.
Dearman is developing a broad portfolio of clean cold and power technologies, all of which harness the unique attributes of the liquid air-powered Dearman engine.
The first application of Dearman technology is a zero-emission transport refrigeration unit, which offers a commercially attractive and operationally superior alternative to the polluting diesel powered units that keep refrigerated cargo cool on the road today. There is a substantial and rapidly growing addressable market for this technology and Dearman aims to achieve significant penetration in a number of countries, enabling it to maximise both the environmental and economic impact of its technology.
Commercial trials of the Dearman zero-emission transport refrigeration system are due to begin in early 2016, with further international trials to follow later in the year.
Subsequent applications of Dearman technology, already under development, include an auxiliary cold and power unit for buses and HGVs, a back up cold and power system for the built environment, and a waste-heat hybrid drive system for trucks and buses.