A game-changing heating system powered by domestic material destined to become waste is under development at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.
The boiler system - which can be used in the home or in commercial buildings - turns items into hot water using patented heat treatment processes. The HERU system was invented by Stratford-upon-Avon company Mission Resources.
Now engineers at the MTC are working with the company to get the system into volume manufacture. Prototype boilers are going through real-world trials in preparation for scaled-up production. The system has the backing of major boiler maker Baxi, and was recently praised in the influential Ricardo Energy and Environment report.
The HERU system takes everyday items destined for disposal such as coffee cups, plastic packaging, nappies, uneaten food or garden material and processes it into energy using a low temperature heat treatment process known as pyrolysis. Using patented heat pipes for even distribution, it converts the energy to heat water for heating systems. The whole system is controlled from a simple touch-screen pad.
The MTC's Business Launch Centre is working with Mission Resources engineers to ensure the most efficient design and build for the system in volume production. It is also working on lifetime cost analysis and component sourcing and costs.
The HERU is the world's first hybrid boiler, meaning it can run from oil or gas if no potential waste material is available, reverting to conventional fuel sources.
The process was invented by Mission Resource's Nik Spencer who has more than 25 years experience in recycling and environmentally sustainable waste management businesses.
He said, "The MTC brings a broad depth of engineering skills from across multiple engineering disciplines and market sectors. This experience and credibility is invaluable as we scale up, ultimately bringing HERU to a mass market."
Dean Baker, director of the MTC's Business Launch Centre, said the MTC team was excited by the HERU project.
"We are thrilled to be supporting Mission Resources to develop and build the next generation HERU machines. Using our product incubation centre we can create a collaborative environment to bring together product designers, engineers, digital modelling and prototyping facilities to make market-seeding HERU units for evaluation. Nik and his team have developed a revolutionary machine which will have a tremendous impact on our environment, and with the support of the MTC we can succeed in bringing it to full market readiness," he said.
Based in the MTC's newly-opened Sopwith Building the Business Launch Centre provides incubation cells for start-ups to develop and manufacture prototypes of their innovative products. They have access to the MTC's world-class advanced manufacturing and research facilities, as well as the MTC's team of engineering and manufacturing experts.
Dean Baker said, "We are able to provide a de-risked environment for start-ups with the support of our product development team from concept to manufacture. Through the MTC's membership we can give young companies the opportunity to draw on the wider manufacturing community to create a successful and sustainable business. Our knowledgeable team offers an end-to-end service to reduce the stress of bringing a product to market."
The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.