Simon Enstone, Business Development Officer

Simon Enstone joins Libertine as Business Development Officer

Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology, has appointed Simon Enstone as Business Development Officer, effective 1 April 2021.

Simon has over 25 years’ experience working in the global automotive industry working across technical, financial and general management disciplines in the UK, Europe and Japan and is a co-founder of Comutiq, a consultancy focused on zero emission mobility.  Until 2015 Simon was Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Planning for Nissan’s operations in Europe and Russia, leading strategy development in Europe including the introduction of zero emission vehicles.

Simon says: “I have been working with Libertine as a consultant since 2019 and am very pleased to now be joining at an exciting time for the company. As society aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, Libertine enables OEMs operating in those sectors that are harder to decarbonize to electrify more quickly through the use of renewable fuels.  Across a wide range of mobility and distributed power applications, efficient and fuel-flexible generator products using Libertine’s technology platform could make a huge impact as countries around the world make the switch to low carbon energy sources.”

Simon is a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from Warwick University with an MBA from Warwick Business School.

Libertine wins £2.6m UK funding to decarbonise heavy-duty vehicle powertrains with MAHLE Powertrain

  • Libertine’s technology will create clean renewable-fuelled range extenders for battery electric trucks

  • Addresses vehicle range, payload and productivity barriers to battery electrification in heavy duty vehicles

  • Offers the efficiency of fuel cells, the durability of conventional engines and the convenience of liquid renewable fuels

  • Development to validate prototype performance against OEM requirements

Libertine has secured £2.6m funding to advance development of its heavy duty vehicle range extender concept.  The 12 month project has been awarded funding by InnovateUK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund to develop and demonstrate a performance validation prototype, building on successful proof of concept testing completed in 2020.

In a joint statement in December 2020, the CEOs of Europe’s leading truck makers agreed that the shift to decarbonised transport must be driven by demand and affordability: Those who operate trucks will not invest in zero-emission technologies if there is no straightforward and affordable way to run, refuel and recharge them.

Libertine’s CEO Sam Cockerill is also a director of Providence Holdings Ltd, whose transport operations move over 150,000 tonnes of potatoes annually, providing a first-hand perspective of this challenge. Sam Cockerill notes “Battery electrification alone is unlikely to meet Providence Holdings’ fleet requirements because of the impact on payload and productivity, compounded by the higher up front costs, limited charging infrastructure and lack of choice when it comes to new vehicle purchases.  Instead, the combination of an economically sized battery, serving the majority of journeys, and an onboard power generator that can use 100% renewable fuels for the remainder has the potential to solve the pain points for transport operators like Providence Holdings and drive significant uptake of net zero capable trucks before the end of the decade.”

Free Piston range extender engines for heavy duty powertrains could offer the efficiency of fuel cells, the durability of conventional engines and the convenience and safety of liquid renewable fuels. Libertine’s linear e-machine and control technology platform solves the piston motion challenge for Free Piston Engine developers, replacing much of the mechanical complexity in a conventional engine with software controlled linear electrical machines to optimise combustion conditions from the first stroke.

During 2020, discussions with prospective OEM customers identified the need for a performance validation prototype as the next key milestone on the path to commercialisation of Libertine’s ‘intelliGEN’ Opposed Free Piston technology.

2021 development will integrate Libertine’s free piston technology with MAHLE Powertrain’s MJI passive pre-chamber internal combustion systems to form a multi-cylinder opposed Free Piston Engine, optimised and calibrated to start and run cleanly on renewable alcohol fuels. The project will also integrate and demonstrate multiple enhancements for thermal management, durability and electrical power conversion efficiency allowing extended run times to validate performance against OEM customer-specified requirements.

Adrian Cooper, MAHLE Powertrain’s Head of New Technology, said “This OEM customer-facing performance validation phase is ideally matched to MAHLE Powertrain’s design and development capabilities. In a world-first we will be integrating our passive-prechamber combustion hardware and control systems with Libertine’s free piston platform, and validating the performance of this novel architecture under load conditions and duty cycles representative of real-world operation.”

Sam Cockerill, Libertine’s CEO, added “This win is fantastic news for Libertine, and for the UK’s ambition to reach net zero across all sectors by 2050. We are grateful for the support of the UK government, which acknowledges the strength of our technical and commercial proposition, and that better engines for renewable fuels will play an important role alongside battery electrification in the UK’s roadmap to net zero.”

The project is the second phase of development to be funded through Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund Competition which supports organisations to develop and demonstrate new products that help the UK’s clean growth led recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and accelerate UK’s transition to net zero.

Libertine demonstrates technology to help heavy-duty vehicles go ‘fossil free’, enables improved cold start with bioethanol

Sheffield, UK: Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology for hybrid electric vehicles and distributed power generation, has demonstrated technology that could help leading truck manufacturers to fulfil pledges to make all heavy-duty vehicles fossil free by 2040.

With Libertine’s technology, hybrid heavy-duty powertrains using a combination of renewable grid power and renewable bioethanol fuel could offer OEMs a practical, cost effective solution to help achieve this vital transition to sustainable fuels and ‘net-zero’ (carbon neutrality).

The project, supported by a grant from the UK Government’s Sustainable Innovation Fund, has shown how a ‘Free Piston’ engine can achieve an improvement in cold start performance using bioethanol by briefly increasing the compression ratio at startup, compensating for chamber wall cooling effects that contribute to misfiring under cold start conditions.

Libertine’s innovation is a linear electrical machine and control technology platform which addresses the challenge of free piston motion control, a challenge which has so far prevented the widespread adoption of Free Piston engine technology that could enable a revolution in sustainable fuel use in ‘hard to electrify’ heavy duty powertrain applications.

This technology enables improved cold start performance using wet or ‘hydrous’ bioethanol fuel, a blend of 90% bioethanol and 10% water (E90W10).

Libertine’s intelliGEN opposed free piston platform was modified for use with wet bioethanol, using a direct injection uniflow scavenged two stroke architecture. Bioethanol was supplied by Ensus, the UK’s largest producer of bioethanol. Combustion testing was performed by MAHLE Powertrain at their Northampton test cell facilities.

During November and December 2020 over 100 tests were performed at MAHLE Powertrain test facilities in order to prove key performance metrics of the control platform, establish baseline combustion performance at a constant compression ratio and with a pre-heated combustion chamber, replicate cold start misfiring encountered in other studies, and demonstrate improved cold start performance by using a variable compression ratio. 

Libertine’s CEO Sam Cockerill says: “This is an important result for Libertine that demonstrates the potential of variable compression ratio combustion control strategies made possible by Libertine’s intelliGEN Free Piston platform. Hybridisation with renewable fuels such as bioethanol could play an essential role in the rapid decarbonisation and electrification of transport, especially in heavy duty vehicle and off highway applications where battery technology and charging infrastructure could limit the pace of the transition to net zero.”

Adrian Cooper, MAHLE Powertrain’s Head of New Technology, says “MAHLE Powertrain are excited to be able to utilise our experience in developing, testing and controlling novel concepts to support this successful demonstration of Libertine’s technology.”

Grant Pearson, Ensus Commercial Director says: “Libertine’s work with MAHLE Powertrain and Ensus supports our view that there is a path to a fossil free future using renewable transport fuels such as bioethanol. We are pleased to have been involved in this work, and look forward to further developments in 2021.”

The project was supported through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Sustainable Innovation Fund Competition which supports organisations to develop and demonstrate new products that help the UK’s clean growth led recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and accelerate UK’s the transition to net zero.

On 9th December 2020 Sam Cockerill presented details of the intelliGEN platform’s key performance metrics at a webinar organised by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/7OLVTXNSUsw 

About Libertine

Libertine helps OEMs make better engines for renewable fuels. Libertine’s intelliGEN Opposed Free Piston platform enables development of new products making full use of synthetic, low carbon and renewable fuels. These products will be essential for the decarbonisation of ‘hard to electrify’ transport applications including light and medium duty commercial vehicles, for a proportion of passenger automotive market where vehicle use and recharging constraints are a barrier to electrification, and for a larger range of distributed power generation applications.

www.libertine.co.uk

About MAHLE Powertrain

MAHLE Powertrain, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MAHLE GmbH (MAHLE), is a world leader in the design, and development of high efficiency engines and electric powertrains, providing engineering services in a broad range of powertrain markets, with a strong focus on gasoline, hybrid, electrification, and alternative fuel engines. Although the largest office and test facility is in Northampton, MAHLE Powertrain is a global company with engineering centres in Stuttgart, Ingolstadt and Munich, Germany; Plymouth MI, USA; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Shanghai, China.

www.mahle-powertrain.com

About Ensus

Ensus UK Ltd operates one of Europe’s largest bioethanol plants at Wilton on Teesside in North East England. Locally grown feed quality grain is refined to produce over 400 million litres of bioethanol and 350 thousand tonnes of high protein animal feed. Up to 250 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide from the production process is cleaned and liquefied each year by a partner company to be used in soft drinks and food production. Since July 2013, Ensus has been a member of the CropEnergies Group which is one of the leading European manufacturers of sustainably produced bioethanol mainly for the fuel sector today.

www.ensus.co.uk

Keith Jackson appointed as non-executive Chairman

Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology, has appointed Keith Jackson as non-executive Chairman, effective 1 October 2020.

Keith is also non-executive Chairman of Ilika, an AIM-listed pioneer in a ground-breaking solid state battery technology and manufacturer. He is Professor of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at University of Sheffield and is sponsored by the Royal Society as an Entrepreneur in Residence.

Keith says: “I’m very pleased to be joining Libertine at an exciting time for the company. Libertine aims to help OEMs make better engines for renewable fuels. Across a wide range automotive and distributed power applications, efficient and fuel-flexible generator products using Libertine’s technology platform could make a huge impact as countries around the world make the switch to low carbon energy sources.”

Keith was founder and managing director of Pi Technology, an automotive control systems company whose engine controls are used on millions of vehicles around the world. Following the sale of the company to a major OEM he joined Rolls Royce Engines PLC where he worked as Chief Technology Officer in the electrical power and control systems group and later became the Chief Technology Officer at Meggitt PLC until May 2019.

Keith is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, a previous Rolls Royce Engineering Fellow and Royal Aeronautical Society Fellow. He is a Computer Science graduate from University College London.

Dr Srinivas Mallampalli appointed as Chief Technology Officer

Libertine FPE (“Libertine”), the creator of Smart Engine technology, has appointed Dr Srinivas Mallampalli as Chief Technology Officer, effective 12 October 2020.

Srinivas joins Libertine following seven years of experience at General Electric (GE) Global Research in India and the US, where he led global R&D teams on project applications ranging from appliances, healthcare, aviation and oil & gas.

Srinivas says: “I’m excited to take on this new and challenging role at Libertine. Leading advanced R&D teams at GE across diverse applications has equipped me with a multi-disciplinary, system-level view of problems which is directly transferrable to the technical problem-solving required to help bring Libertine’s linear e-machine and control technology to market.

I was impressed by Libertine’s ambition to accelerate the adoption of low carbon electric propulsion. Libertine’s technology could have a huge global impact in the next few years, helping OEMs make better engines for renewable fuels such as bioethanol. The same linear e-machine platform technology can be applied in other applications like energy storage, hydrogen compression and Stirling engine power generators.”

CEO Sam Cockerill says: “Srinivas brings deep technical expertise across a number of linear machine applications included high-efficiency, cost-effective motor design and control for household appliances; precision machines for healthcare; and electrical machines that need to work in challenging downhole conditions for oil and gas applications. I’m delighted to welcome Srinivas on board to help expand our technical team as we build momentum with our global client base”

Srinivas holds a Master of Technology in Power Electronics, Electrical Machines and Drives from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He also holds a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Anna University, Chennai, India. In 2020 Srinivas completed his PhD at the Electrical Machines and Drives group at the University of Sheffield.

 

Libertine releases open source designs for low cost AMBU bag squeezer

Libertine FPE (“Libertine”) has released its open source design for a low cost ‘digital force’ AMBU bag squeezer for developers of non-critical-care breathing aids.

The project, supported by a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, successfully create a low-cost bag valve actuator device which can be manufactured using 3D printed parts.

Libertine has released design specifications including CAD files, electronic schematics and control software on the open-access platform GitHub to support more widespread development of low cost breathing aids using the Bag Valve Mask actuator (BVA) module and bag squeezer assembly (BSQ).

Initially developed as a non-critical care option for the COVID-19 pandemic, since the project’s commencement treatment options for COVID-19 in the UK and globally have advanced rapidly with oxygen therapy and steroids now playing a key role in limiting the progression of pre-intensive care cases and improving case mortality. However the low cost design may still provide a basis for breathing aids to reduce future mortality from a wide range of respiratory diseases, especially during annual flu seasons.

Videos showing five prototype systems running at the completion of the project, and a section through the BSQ assembly are online here:

https://youtu.be/F1VjVqLDZy4

https://youtu.be/e5LfYd8QOnc

The complete design documentation pack can be downloaded here:

https://github.com/Libertine-FPE/Open-airway

A limited number of evaluation systems are available for interested developers. For more information, please contact fpe@libertine.co.uk

 

Libertine developing breathing aid for COVID-19 response

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 demonstrates intelliGEN opposed piston 2-stroke developer platform

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.

Notes: You can see an example run here and an animated concept for the engine platform here.

Motorsports Magazine article link.

Libertine and Brunel reach milestone in Free Piston ORC demonstration project

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).