4NRg Secures SCORE Funding for Offshore Desalination Unit

4NRg has secured £42k of grant funding from the Supply Chain innovation for Offshore Renewable Energy (SCORE) programme for their innovative desalination unit.

4NRg Secures SCORE Funding for Renewables-Powered Desalination Unit

Research and development specialist 4NRg focuses on the renewable energy sector and in particular coming up with innovative or novel solutions to difficult engineering problems.

In this case 4NRg has been awarded the grant from SCORE to develop their pioneering mechanical desalination unit. Most desalination units require a large commercial power source and as such are often located near to power stations. This method is therefore not suitable for remote areas and is very energy intensive, which is not ideal, particularly in the renewables sector.

Power source is what will set 4NRg’s desalination unit apart from the crowd as it will not use a traditional source of power. 4NRg’s ground-breaking desalination unit will harness the power of sea, through wave or tidal energy, in order to create fresh drinking water.

The offshore sector is one of the top markets identified for the unit due to the remote locations of the working areas, thus meaning that either large tanks of water have to be transported out to sea or there has to be a way to produce clean water for the engineers. Both these options are often costly and inconvenient, but having fresh water is vital when maintenance teams are spending long periods of time offshore, and this will inevitably increase as wind farms are built further from the shore.

This inventive desalination unit is currently only at the prototype stage so the next step for 4NRg is to upscale the prototype to a large enough size for it to be tested. It will then be independently assessed and have the amount of water produced and its quality evaluated in order to illustrate its potential to commercial developers.

This initial pilot project is planned to take 9 months, with the first up-scaled device being ready for testing in 3-6 months, either in a large testing tank or potentially in the sea. Due to the scale of the project 4NRg is planning to hire a project manager and two part time engineers.

Mark Aspinall, Business Development Director for 4NRg, said: “There are other desalination units on the market and in the development stages, but none are comparative to this one due to it not requiring electricity. If all goes to plan this unit could also be widely used in disaster areas where fresh water is often a scarce, yet crucial, resource.

“Receiving the grant from the SCORE programme has really given credibility to our project and reassures others that it has serious potential. The application process was really simple and Richard Salmon helped us through it step by step. He assessed our idea and advised on what we needed to include in our application, therefore taking the hard work away from me so that I could focus on the project itself.”

Richard Salmon, project manager and business advisor for SCORE says: “Helping projects like 4NRg’s desalination unit get off the ground are what the SCORE programme is all about. The potential for the use of this unit within the offshore industry and beyond is vast.

“The SCORE programme is almost six months in now but there is still a large pot of funding to give away. So, we would love to hear from anyone with an innovative idea to benefit the offshore renewable sector.”

The SCORE programme delivers a £2.5 million funding investment through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). SCORE grants range from £2,500 up to a maximum of 30% of the project’s eligible costs, or £50,000, whichever is the lower, and are available to all East Anglian based SMEs in the renewable energy supply chain.

Press release, August 21, 2014; Image: flickr