Libertine’s CEO Sam Cockerill speaks to Julien Uhlig about the future of low carbon power using Libertine’s technology as part of the EX Venture speaker series
Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology for distributed power generation and electric vehicles, has temporarily turned its attention to the creation of a breathing aid for response to both COVID-19 and future respiratory diseases.
The project, supported by a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, aims to create a low-cost device suitable for deployment in UK care homes to reduce mortality due to COVID-19 infections during 2020, and to provide an effective early stage intervention to reduce mortality in subsequent annual flu seasons.
The device is similar to a sleep apnea machine and delivers continuous positive airway pressure device, providing two pressure levels to reduce breathing effort and assist exhalation.
Libertine usually focuses on smart engine technology, and it is the application of their lab-proven force-application linear actuator that enables a breathing aid with the necessary ‘smart’ control to deliver fine-tuned control of the air pressure and keep patients alive under challenging respiratory disease conditions.
A significant number of COVID-related deaths in the UK, EU and worldwide occur in care homes where elderly residents contract the disease but cannot be hospitalised due to a lack of capacity or the expectation of poor clinical outcomes from later stage medical interventions such as invasive ventilation. Recent studies have shown that the application of bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) respiratory support, using a device like the one Libertine is developing, can prevent a significant proportion of patients at an early stage of influenza-type respiratory diseases from progression to Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Says Sam Cockerill, CEO, Libertine: “A BiPAP device does not require patient sedation and invasive intubation, does not require the same degree of clinical skill and oversight, and does not rely on the availability of hospital services like main-ring oxygen supply. It may therefore represent a valuable early stage and low-cost intervention that can reduce case mortality and the hospital admission load associated with COVID-19 and similar respiratory diseases. All of us at Libertine are enthusiastic about being able to help using our engineering skills and the application of our existing technologies.”
The project is enabled through an Innovate UK Fast Start Competition which aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups.
Libertine staff return from furlough at the beginning of June to complete the four-month project.
Libertine has completed a lab demonstration platform that it hopes will accelerate the development of a new generation of clean, high efficiency opposed piston 2-stroke (OP2S) engines for distributed power and transport applications.
Initial testing of the demonstration engine started in December 2019, aiming to validate the mechanical build, align simulation models with test performance, and demonstrate opposed piston synchronisation and motion control. So far the intelliGEN platform has exceeded performance expectations and demonstrates exceptionally low vibration which will be a key feature for automotive applications.
The platform has now completed a series of short commissioning runs operating at 20Hz and is expected to be capable of operation at frequencies up to 50Hz with compression ratios in the range of 10:1 to 50:1. Such flexibility makes this an ideal platform for both conventional and advanced combustion methods, as well as for low carbon fuels such as biogas, bioethanol and methanol.
Each run generates a detailed quantitative output data set describing the system condition and trends, and which Libertine expects will form the basis of transient control, advanced diagnostics and predictive maintenance functions implemented by its OEM clients.
Libertine’s intelliGEN platform will allow engine developers to ditch the crankshaft, instead using its linear electrical machines and advanced control software to deliver real-time compression ratio control. This feature, not practical with conventional engines, is believed by Libertine to be a key tool for developers of advanced ‘Low Temperature’ combustion systems – as well as to reducing harmful tailpipe emissions formed when an engine starts from cold.
The potential of opposed piston 2-stroke engines has recently caught the attention of Formula 1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds, who says that the best way forward for the sport’s future engine development might lie in opposed piston two-stroke engines.
“The opposed piston engine is very much coming back, and already in road car form at around 50 per cent efficiency,” he is quoted as saying by Motorsport Magazine. “We need to look at what our future power units will look like. At F1 this is what we are engaged in at the moment. I’m very keen on it being a two-stroke.”
Sam Cockerill, Libertine’s founder and CEO, is presenting at the Smart Mobility Start-up Forum in Automotive World at Tokyo Big Sight on the 17th January.
Motorsports Magazine article link.
Libertine has reached the next stage in a project to demonstrate a micro-scale Free-Piston Gas Expander (FPGE) for Organic Rankine Cycle waste heat recovery applications.
Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems have been used in larger scale waste heat recovery applications converting low grade heat to electricity via an organic solvent and a high speed turbine expander. At smaller scales the FPGE has several important economic and operational advantages over turbine-based ORC expanders due to its lower cost, higher expansion ratio capabilities and tolerance of two-phase fluids.
Brunel are experts in ORC development and are confident the FPGE will work well in micro-scale ORC applications. The FPGE has been installed in Brunel University’s ORC rig which is now being commissioned. The demonstration is of a standalone waste heat to power system and the test data will be used to develop the full specification for a productionised version. Project completion is expected in Q1 2020, resulting in test data and simulation model validation applicable to commercial ORC applications.
Sam Cockerill, Libertine’s founder and CEO, said: “The project’s aim is to complete a lab-based demonstration and model validation of a free piston gas expander within a low temperature Organic Rankine Cycle heat-to-power system. Later versions could replace the cooling loop in Libertine’s Smart Engine platform, raising the potential electrical power generation efficiency of 40-60kWe systems to around 50%.”
This product is a deliverable of the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 4 (EC4) project “ORC integrated free piston expander” (Innovate UK ref. 103497).
Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology for distributed power generation and electric vehicles, has signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with IPT PowerTech Group (“IPT PowerTech”), who deliver complete power solutions for the industrial and telecom sectors.
IPT PowerTech and Libertine plan to cooperate to demonstrate Smart Engine power generation in a mobile telecoms base station application. Following successful completion of this project IPT PowerTech will market and distribute generator products incorporating Libertine’s technology in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia regions.
Commenting on the MOU, Sam Cockerill, Libertine FPE’s CEO, said: “Power generator products using Libertine’s intelliGEN Smart Engine architecture should deliver significantly better efficiency to IPT PowerTech’s customers, and as a result reduce the overall cost of energy generation at their sites.”
Rami El-Richani, Solution Development Manager, IPT PowerTech Group said: “Libertine has a compelling technology platform and we are delighted to be playing a part in bringing it to a market where today’s power generation solutions are expensive to run and maintain.”
About IPT PowerTech Group
IPT PowerTech delivers specialized power solutions to the industrial and telecom sectors in the Middle East, Africa and neighboring countries. Since its inception in Lebanon in 1993, it has grown into a leading group, combining power expertise with telecom infrastructure specialization. Today, it is a market leader in providing power solutions and specialty batteries, telecom infrastructure and managed services, along with T-ESCO and Guaranteed Savings Models. Headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon, IPT PowerTech has expanded its presence to the entire region and is now present in 11 countries, with a regional coverage of more than 50 countries
About Libertine FPE
Libertine makes Smart Engines for distributed power generation and electric vehicles. Smart Engines are expected to produce at least 30% more power from the same fuel input, whilst being cleaner, quieter and easier to use and maintain than today’s power generators. Libertine is enabling this revolution in internal combustion engine performance with its proprietary electronic piston motion control and high-performance linear machines. Smart Engines using this technology will play a major role in global power generation and transport applications for decades to come.
Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology for electric vehicles (EV), has appointed Douglas Montgomery as a non-executive director to represent the company’s minor shareholders.
Douglas is an Investor Director of Westwood Global Energy Group and Speech Graphics. Both are private companies and are developing new products/platforms which require commercialisation for growth.
Douglas says: “I’ve been an investor in Libertine FPE over multiple rounds since 2014, and I’m excited by the potential of the management team and the market opportunity for Smart Engines utilizing Libertine’s Linear Power Systems in a more environmentally conscious society.”
Before 2016 Douglas was an Executive Director at energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie. Douglas was global head of Sales and Marketing, also leading strategy and new product developments, and grew sales from under £10 million to over £240 million p.a. After taking the company private through a management buy-out from Deutsche Bank in 2001 for £25M the company was ultimately sold to Verisk Analytics in 2015 for £1.85Bn.
Libertine FPE has secured a grant from Horizon 2020, the European funding programme for research and innovation.
Horizon 2020 aims to produce world-class science and innovation in Europe. The SME instrument is designed to support EU-based small and medium-sized Enterprises with breakthrough innovations through staged funding and business acceleration services.
The Phase 1 grant will be used to support development of Libertine’s IntelliGEN 20kWe Smart Engine platform for OEMs seeking to create power generators for electric vehicles and distributed power generation applications.
In future, most vehicles will require an on-board electrical power generator. By 2030 it is estimated by Toyota that such ‘hybrid’ electric vehicle sales will outnumber conventional vehicles and battery electric vehicle sales by three to one. These future hybrid electric vehicles will require a revolution in internal combustion engine design and performance to meet stringent regulatory and user requirements for efficiency, emissions, noise and vibration, packaging and fuel flexibility.
Libertine is enabling this next revolution in internal combustion engine performance, using electronic piston motion control and high performance linear machines to ensure optimal combustion conditions during each and every cycle. The ‘Smart Engines’ created by this revolution will play a major role in global transport and power generation for decades to come.
Libertine is currently in discussions under NDA with two leading OEMs in Europe, in addition to prospective partners bringing expertise in renewable fuels and advanced combustion development. Through its proprietary real time compression ratio and adaptive piston motion control technology, IntelliGEN will support all bioethanol fuel mixes from E10 currently in widespread use in Europe to higher E20 and E85 mixes, offering greatly enhanced combustion efficiency and emissions performance.
During 2019 Libertine will be seeking Phase 2 support to launch and evaluate pilot intelliGEN systems in the UK, France and Germany during 2019-20 with support from European partners.
Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.
Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.
By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. What is Horizon 2020?
Libertine makes Smart Engines for Electric Vehicles and distributed power generation. In future, most vehicles will require an on-board electrical power generator. Smart Engines running on a variety of cleaner and sustainable fuels are considered to be an essential part of this future – not only on board electric vehicles, but also in a wide variety of distributed power applications. Smart Engines are expected to produce at least 30% more power from the same fuel input, whilst being cleaner, quieter and easier to use and maintain than today’s power generators. Libertine is enabling this revolution in internal combustion engine performance with its proprietary electronic piston motion control and high-performance linear machines. Smart Engines using this technology will play a major role in global transport and power generation for decades to come. The addressable market for Libertine’s technology is estimated to be in excess of US$100 billion by 2025.
Sheffield, UK: Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology for electric vehicles (EV), has appointed Roger Allcock as Operations Director.
The appointment follows Libertine’s raising of a further £770,000 investment to develop ‘smart engines’ for electric vehicles.
Roger has been working at a senior level in the UK’s electrical machines and drives industry for over 30 years. His experience spans a wide range of product types including permanent magnet and induction motors and bespoke power electronics, and within the motorsport, aerospace, and oil & gas sectors. For the last ten years Roger’s focus has been on the development of hybrid electrical systems using high performance permanent magnetic devices.
Sam Cockerill, CEO of Libertine, said: “Roger joins Libertine as we are seeking to develop the manufacturing and operations functions as the organisation grows. With new investment, new talent, and new partnerships worldwide we are in a strong position to deliver our ‘smart engine,’ which could produce at least 30% more power from the same fuel input whilst being cleaner, quieter and more compact that today’s technologies.”
Roger is a past Chairman and Treasurer of the UK Magnetics Society and a Fellow of the IET.
Libertine FPE Ltd – the Sheffield-based company which is developing ‘smart engines’ for electric vehicles – has raised a further £770,000 investment.
The latest funding round was led by NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and included investment from Envestors and ShadowFoundr as well as several existing shareholders including Sir Robin Saxby.
The investment follows the £500,000 raised from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance in July 2017 which marked the first Northern Powerhouse Invesment Fund equity investment in Sheffield City Region.
The new capital will enable the company to build and demonstrate a number of prototype ‘intelliGEN’ smart engine modules incorporating its e-machine and control technology, engage with automotive manufacturers, and further develop the business in preparation for a Series A investment round in 2020. This second funding round will remain open to new investors until the end of June and brings the total raised by the company to over £4.8m.
Founded in 2009 by Sam Cockerill, an engineer with a background in the biofuels industry, Libertine makes smart engines for electric vehicles and distributed power generation. A smart engine has the crankshaft replaced by software-controlled electrical machines that govern piston motion to optimise the combustion process. Smart engines could produce at least 30% more power from the same fuel input whilst being cleaner, quieter and more compact than today’s power generators. Libertine currently employs seven staff and expects to create a further five jobs in the year ahead.
Sam Cockerill, CEO of Libertine, said: “This new investment comes at a very exciting time for Libertine. Successfully completing this first close represents an important milestone for us as we work to bring our smart engine technology to market.”
Ashwin Kumaraswamy, Investment Director at Mercia, said:
“Libertine is enabling a revolution in engine performance with its proprietary electronic piston motion control and high-performance linear machines. Smart engines using this technology will play a major role in global transport and power generation, with the market estimated to be worth over US$100 billion by 2025. This second round of funding will take the company one step closer towards its goal.”
Grant Peggie, Director at British Business Bank, said: “We are pleased that NPIF continues to support high-growth and innovative businesses in the North, providing vital funding to recruit new staff and for expansion into new markets. This investment demonstrates how this funding can make a real and measurable difference to businesses across the Northern Powerhouse region, which helps create a more prosperous regional economy.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.