Energy innovation sees Heliex steam ahead

Posted on 8 May 2017 by Jonny Williamson

East Kilbride-based Heliex Power has built on a legacy of technology and innovation to enable a variety of industries maximise their energy efficiency.

Steam Energy Engine Industry - image courtesy of Pixabay.
Steam is still seen as a technology consigned to the Victorian era, but it offers huge potential to modern industry – image courtesy of Pixabay.

Heliex Power, in partnership with City, University of London, was the first to discover a way of harnessing so-called “wet” steam – a relatively ubiquitous, yet frequently untapped, energy source.

Working together, the pair created the steam expander, Heliex’s core technology which harnesses the energy from standard industrial steam to generate mechanical power.

Heliex’s first use of the expander was in the Heliex GenSet, launched in 2013, where it is used to drive a standard industrial generator, allowing businesses to produce electricity from the wet steam created in many of their processes.

The company has since extended the use of its expander to drive a range of rotating equipment, such as pumps and blowers, with its Heliex SteamDrive. Reportedly, the expander can drive machinery more efficiently and cost effectively than an electrical motor.

Its second new technology, the Heliex AirComp, uses a Heliex steam expander system to drive high-efficiency compressors, providing air. According to the company, this is up to 18% more efficient than using an electrical motor, delivering potential savings in excess of £80,000 a year for a standard 100kW machine.

Compressed air is employed in a variety of industrial applications, such as the running of control systems, cooling equipment, and drive components.

The company’s third new technology, Heliex SteamComp, uses the original steam expander system in reverse. It allows plant operators to re-energise steam which has already been through a process, instead of having to condense and evaporate it again – an energy-intensive process.

Chris Armitage, chief executive, Heliex Power.
Chris Armitage, chief executive, Heliex Power.

The technology is already being deployed by a packaging manufacturer on its production lines and has potential applications in industries such as pulp and paper, tyres, food processing, and chemicals.

Chief executive of Heliex Power, Chris Armitage explained: “Steam is often seen as a technology consigned to the Victorian era, but it still has huge potential and enormous benefits to offer modern industry and society.

“AirComp, SteamDrive, and SteamComp complement our existing technology, which remains a unique proposition for businesses looking to generate electricity from their wet steam. They will also open up new opportunities for us – compressed air, for example, is even more plentiful on industrial sites than steam, making the potential market very large for that system alone.”