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01 August 2012
Fusion IP, the university commercialisation company which turns university research into business, has announced a new portfolio company, Fault Current Limited ("FCL"), formed under its exclusive agreement with Cardiff University.
Fault Current Limited, which is founded on the invention of Dr Jeremy Hall from Cardiff University’s School of Engineering and breakthrough intellectual property developed at the School’s specialist Wolfson Centre for Magnetics, has developed a unique magnetic fault current limiter that protects utility electrical distribution networks from unanticipated power surges. These power surges can be caused by failure of aging equipment, severe weather such as lightning strikes, accidents or even by acts of wilful destruction. Such faults can damage major expensive components and, if not cleared quickly, can lead to lengthy and costly blackouts.
In addition, the need for fault current limiters is driven by a dramatic increase in a system’s fault current level as energy demand increases and more clean energy sources, such as wind and solar, are added to an already overburdened electrical infrastructure.
Used in an electrical network substation, fault current limiters are Smart Grid systems that can help protect the grid by absorbing the destructive nature of faults, extending the life of existing network equipment and allowing utilities to defer or eliminate costly equipment replacements or upgrades. Estimates from Europe and the USA suggest investing in Smart Grid Technologies, such as fault current limiters, can save billions of dollars in replacement cost, increase safety, reliability and power quality.
Unlike competing faults current limiters currently in service, Fault Current Limited’s unique solution is a completely passive, ‘fit and forget’ permanent magnet device, that requires no external power or back up, recovers automatically when a fault is cleared and requires minimal maintenance.
Professor Phil Bowen, Director of Innovation and Engagement, School of Engineering, said "The School congratulates Dr Hall on the second spin-out company to emerge from the School in the last four years, after the successful launch of Mesuro Ltd in 2009. Innovation is one of the cornerstones of the School’s research outputs and we are delighted that innovative technologies being developed by our researchers are out there successfully competing in the marketplace, supporting the Welsh economy. This is an excellent example of the University and industry working together to create green energy solutions which will benefit the whole community"
Commenting on the launch of the spin-out company, Dr Jeremy Hall said "Here in the Wolfson Centre for Magnetics at Cardiff we work very closely with industry and we recognise the need to make the supply of energy safer, more efficient, and cost effective. This new technology will be a valuable tool for enabling the integration of renewable energy generation safely and reliably into the grid and should allow power companies to make significant cost savings. This is an excellent example of the University and industry working together to create solutions which will benefit the whole community".
In accordance with its agreement with Cardiff University, Fusion will start with a 60% shareholding in , Fault Current Limited.
David Baynes, Chief Executive Officer of Fusion IP, commented: "This is a great example of a brilliantly simple idea being turned into a potentially world class product. We look forward to working with the FCL team, as they develop this groundbreaking solution to a major global problem for the power network providers."
Martin Ansell, Chairman of FCL, commented: "Governments, regulators and utilities around the world are faced with binding commitments to connect clean, renewable generation, to an aging electrical infrastructure conceived more than 100 years ago. An enabling technology such as FCL's innovative fault current limiter is essential in the quest to deliver reliable power and meet our clean energy challenges".
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